Is being a surrogate mother a profession?

Dear Rita: Over a year ago one of our employees at our preschool program became a surrogate mother. She was paid to cover her expenses for carrying the baby, and she had a beautiful baby boy who is now at his new home. Now, only eight months later, she's doing it again! Do we have to give her the same leave and job protection that we would give any other pregnant woman? And since she is, in effect, getting paid for being pregnant, does this qualify as a second job that is in conflict with her position with our agency? -- A New One On Me

Dear A New One On Me: What I don't know is the etiquette on baby showers for surrogate moms! What I do know is this: pregnant surrogate mothers enjoy the same protection as any other pregnant employee. As you may know, nonprofits with 50 or more employees (working within 75 miles of each other) are covered under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If the employee works at least 1,250 hours before taking a second leave of absence, she is entitled to unpaid leave for up to three months, continued medical benefits during the leave, and has the right to return to the same or similar position. In addition, many states offer a pregnant woman additional leave beyond the three-month FMLA leave and guarantee return to the exact same job. These more generous state laws can apply to your nonprofit if you have as few as five employees. So, in addition to the FMLA requirements, be sure to check your state laws as well as your own personnel policies.

In terms of the part-time job question, pregnancy is considered a condition, not a job (even when there is compensation involved). All pregnant women should be treated the same, regardless of why they are pregnant or what will happen to the baby. And, no, the pregnant woman has not taken a second job that conflicts with her current position.

Now as for that baby shower . . .

Ask Rita in HR is a column in Blue Avocado written by Pamela Fyfe and Ellen Aldridge, two HR attorneys at the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group. They advise nonprofits on a wide range of employment law to help keep them out of court.

Comments (8)

  • Anonymous

    Someone will always find a way to abuse kindness and consideration.

    Jun 02, 2010
  • Anonymous

    Are they still entitled to time off/family leave to be with the baby? even if another family now has the baby?

    Jun 02, 2010
  • Anonymous

    This is so utterly offensive to me and an example of the unfriendly environment women must endure to earn a living while pregnant or after giving birth in the American workforce.

    Jun 08, 2010
  • Anonymous

    How would this be any different from a woman who was pregnant with her own baby? I think this matter is not the employers' purvey from an HR point of view. People are quick to judge others, as in this case someone thinking that the woman who is pregnant is doing it to get a leg up or to abuse the system. Being a surrogate is a noble thing to do for someone else who, for one reason or another, can't biologically conceive.

    Jun 11, 2010
  • Anonymous

    I totally understand where "A New One on Me" is coming from. This employee has chosen to become pregnant and is being justly compensated for doing so. Whether it is a noble act of kindness is not in question. She could (nonintentionally) be putting a strain on a small, struggling nonprofit by being supported with benefits while receiving unpaid time off for 3 months, every 8 months. What is the organization supposed to do for those 3 months? Hire and train a temp?

    Allow me to preface my comment with:
    I'm a woman.
    I run two nonprofits.
    No, I'm not lying.

    www.infrastructureacademy.org

    Jun 16, 2010
  • Anonymous

    I think its non sensical for her to be provided with benefits and her position still in effect after she has the baby. because from that perspective..hypothetically she could get pregnant over and over for the rest of her life and that small non profit is expected to pay for her lazy ass? i dont care if shes doing it to abuse the system or be noble. you have responsibilities to your job..and one of those responsibilities is to do the damn job.shes not getting pregnant with a loved one ..shes using her body as a farm to grow babies. id say thats a second job no?its on purpose and dilberate..system is screwed

    Oct 03, 2010
  • Anonymous

    Too many personal responses on this one given the number of nonprofit women executives who are likely astounded by the situation. This is a public policy question and legislatures and the courts have provided provisions to protect the health of the pregnant woman and the child. Not sure I want this discussion in the legislatures again so live with it. Incidently...not the rest of her life - child bearing is somewhat less than that in the modern era. Suspect externalities of a nonlegal nature will impact the woman - body changes, family and friends concerned, hostile comments from other staff and all the rest. If she does a great job while she is around, hold her dear. if not then deal with her as you would any other employee who is not delivering ( in the work context)!!

    Dec 04, 2010
  • Anonymous

    I would not think she should receive benefits. If I contracted to move boats from one port to another, in addition to holding down a regular job, then I would have to take an unpaid leave to do so, unless I had enough time earned. If I moved the boats for nine months out of 12, I assume the IRS , and most HR, would consider boat-moving as my primary job. But this is different, of course. There are additional health factors. Also, it would seem the company insurance rates would increase, covering a "job" that is not the job the woman was hired to do. I think the insurance company could argue that they do not have to insure employees for conditions acquired in the pursuit of money, (or nobility). The woman is selling a product on company time. I would take it up with the insurance company, and, yes, with the legislature.

    Jul 17, 2011

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