A common misconception I’ve heard about surrogacy is that surrogates are not allowed to work while pregnant, like they live in some kind of a glass box for 9 months and don’t have a life of their own. I’d like to not only to squash these rumors, but also to explain all the details and provide insider insight. Hint, not only can you work as a surrogate, I highly recommend you have some kind of employment because otherwise you can be leaving a lot of money on the table.
In this guide I will explain the kinds of jobs that are best suited for surrogates, jobs that are prohibited, and outline how lost wages works for surrogates.
Surrogates Must Be Financially Stable
Surrogacy Compensation is Not Your Job
I’ve seen many angry comments on social media saying that surrogates are extremely underpaid for their job as a surrogate, especially when we are talking about a base compensation of $45,000. Well this would be true if surrogates were actually being employed by the surrogacy agency, but that is not how it works. While surrogates do get compensated for their service of carrying a baby for the intended parents, it is not her “job” and shouldn’t be categorized as employment.
A surrogate must be financially stable and have income outside of her surrogacy compensation. It could be income from a job, or household income for a spouse or partner. But either way, she should be able to pay for the roof over the head of herself and her children, along with all the other expenses life throws at us.
Surrogates Cannot Be on Financial Assistance from the Government
Another hot button issue is that a surrogate cannot be on financial assistance from the government in order to qualify. This goes back to my statement above, surrogates must be financially stable. This includes state-issued health insurance, cash aid, food stamps, subsidized housing, Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), etc. Basically any kind of money from the government.
If a woman and her children are dependent on financial aide from the government, then surrogacy may not be a good option. She could possibly lose health care coverage for her children, which could cost her far more than she will earn in base compensation. It’s a common predicament, and it needs to be taken seriously.
Having a Job While Being a Surrogate
The Best Jobs for Surrogates
Many surrogates work traditional jobs and have fulfilling careers while pregnant with their surro baby. As we covered above, all surrogates must be financially stable and able to support themselves and their family outside of the surrogacy income they earn during the journey. This often means that a surrogate is employed, either part time or full-time.
The best kinds of jobs for pregnant women include (but are not limited to) admin and clerical jobs where she can sit down at a desk, work from home jobs, teaching, some service industry jobs and many more. The most important thing is that the surrogate have the opportunity to get off her feet, and her co-workers and bosses are supportive of her journey.
Is it safe for a surrogate to work while pregnant?
The answer to this question completely depends on the type of job that she has. If she works an administration type job where she sits at a desk most of the day, then there’s very little risk to herself or the surro baby. If a surrogate is employed in an atmosphere considered hazardous to a pregnant woman, then she may either have to change jobs or position within the company in order to be a surrogate. Examples would be work locations where there’s toxic chemicals or large machinery, and/or her job requires her to lift heavy items, carry out physically strenuous tasks, or be exposed to harmful elements.
At the time of matching the surrogate with the intended parents, there needs to be an in depth conversation about her job and how multiple scenarios can play out in a journey. There shouldn’t be any surprises to anyone about how her employment will affect the possible lost wages. A surrogate with a very pregnancy-friendly job can be more of a perk to intended parents, and it can possibly increase her base compensation.
What happens if a surrogate can’t work while pregnant?
What if a surrogate has to take medical leave from her job? Does she get compensated for lost wages? Yes. For doctor-recommended medical leave from her job, the parents would have to pay the surrogate lost wages. This can happen when a surrogate is put on bedrest, especially if she’s carrying twins.
All About Lost Wages for Surrogates
Lost wages is when the intended parents are legally required to pay a surrogate money to reimburse her salary that she lost out on because of her journey. Lost wages payments can start early in the process, usually when she has to travel for medical screening. Each time a surrogate has to use her PTO, sick pay, or any other time off work, the intended parents are on the hook to pay her for that time.
Surrogate Postpartum Lost Wages
Lost wages are also applicable for the postpartum recovery period. The surrogate is entitled to 6 weeks paid lost wages for a vaginal delivery, and up to 8 weeks paid lost wages for a c-section delivery. It is up to the surrogate and her employer when she returns to work and whether she takes the full amount of designated maternity leave. Many surrogacy agencies will require the surrogate to apply for the state paid maternity leave, and then the intended parents will supplement the remainder of her income until she reaches her full pay.
Intended Parents Not Wanting to Pay Lost Wages
Lost wages can definitely become a point of friction in a journey. Intended parents can always expect to pay some lost wages, but when it becomes frequent and the lost wages bills start adding up, things can get tense. If the surrogate’s job is not working out with her pregnancy and she’s required to take a medical leave, then the parents are legally obligated to pay her for lost salary.
There have been rare cases where the surrogate was aware of the legal obligation the intended parents had, and then decided to be shady and find ways to force them to pay her lost wages while she didn’t work. Again, this scenario is rare, but I know of cases where it became clear after she was pregnant that a scheme was hatched.
Surrogates Who Are Unemployed
If a surrogate remains unemployed for her entire journey, then she will never be able to collect lost wages. Which also means that she is never compensated extra for her time, beyond her base compensation. In my opinion this is leaving money on the table for surrogates. I’m not saying you should go crazy trying to get lost wages, but I think your time is valuable and the only way to quantify it is to have an hourly rate you are paid.
Lost Wages and Surrogate Contracts
When the Gestational Agreement contract is drafted, the current pay rate of the surrogate is included in the contract. This is to establish what her lost wages rate will be. The surrogacy attorney will ask for your last 3 paystubs to verify your average compensation.
If a surrogate is unemployed at the time of contracts, the intended parents can have a clause put into the contract saying that if she does obtain employment during the course of her journey, they are not obligated to pay her lost wages. This is not due to being malicious or mean, they most likely simply can’t afford it. Many intended parents intentionally match with unemployed surrogates because they have a lower budget for their journey, and there’s potential for huge lost wages bills down the road.Learn More