Saturday, September 3, 2011

Maternity Leave for Adoption, Parent by Surrogate, or Only Parent by Birth?

From the Canadian Globe and Mail:
When is a parent just a parent?

A New York woman is suing her bosses after they cut her maternity benefits to just five days because she had her twins with a surrogate. Five days is what a parent adopting a child gets at the pharmaceutical company, compared to 13 weeks if a woman carries the baby herself.

* * *

According to court document, Ms. Krill wrote to her bosses saying, “treating her differently than other employees having babies is not fair and is placing me in an untenable condition.”
Responding to the New York case in an interview with ABC news, a law professor pointed out that it would be difficult for a company to award maternity benefits to a mother who did not give birth, and not extend them to fathers.

Canadian parents who qualify for far longer benefits (at least 35 weeks in parental leave however your new child arrived in your arms) can be grateful they aren’t looking at a five-day speed bonding exercise with their baby.

But a similar issue has also gone before the courts here where an adoptive parents receive parental leave benefits from the government, but not the additional maternity benefits available only to women who give birth. The same would apply to parents of babies delivered through surrogacy.
An adoptive mother from Vancouver took the government to court in 2007 arguing that the shorter benefits were discriminatory , but lost at the Federal Court of Appeal.

The court ruled that the she did not qualify for additional benefits because she didn’t undergo the “physiological and psychological experience” or pregnancy. The Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear her appeal.
What do you think?  Is maternity leave designed to benefit parent-child bonding?  for recovery from physical/psychological effects of pregnancy?  And what, if anything, do these rules do for surrogates who give birth but do not parent or for birth mothers who give birth but do not parent?


Anonymous said...


Canada has both maternity leave benefits and paternal leave benefits. Maternity leave is only for those who gave birth including surrogates and is 15 weeks duration.

Parental leave is for 35 weeks and can be used by either parent or split between parents but cannot exceed 35 weeks.

That gives a year leave when you add in the 2 weeks mandatory paid vacation leave which your employer accrues for you even though you are not at work...that is the way it works.

What are EI maternity benefits?

EI maternity benefits are offered to biological mothers, including surrogate mothers, who cannot work because they are pregnant or have recently given birth. A maximum of 15 weeks of EI maternity benefits is available. The 15 weeks can start as early as eight weeks before the expected date of birth, and can end as late as 17 weeks after the actual date of birth.

Military families can get up to 104 weeks paid.

Can both parents apply for EI parental benefits?

Yes, but they have to share the benefits. In total, there are 35 weeks of parental benefits available to eligible parents of a newborn or newly adopted child.

There are many ways you can decide to use your parental leave. For instance, one of the parents can take the entire 35 weeks of benefits, or both parents can share them.


•If the biological mother wants to return to work after her maternity leave, the other parent can then take the 35 weeks of parental benefits.

•If one spouse decides to take only 10 weeks of parental leave before returning to work, the other spouse can use the remaining 25 weeks of benefits.

•If one spouse decides to return to work after taking a few weeks of parental leave, but then realizes a few weeks later that he or she would prefer to stay home with the child, he or she is still entitled to the unused weeks of parental benefits, as long as the 52-week period after the birth or adoption placement has not expired.

theadoptedones...could not post via wp id...

Amanda said...

I think maternity leave is designed both for healing (my OB considers the healing process to last at least 6 weeks) as well as for parent-child bonding. I think mothers who give birth as well as mothers who adopt should all get paid maternity leave. I also believe in fathers getting paid paternity leave. (Not to be mistaken for supporting adoption, mind you, I think families having time together without the stress and distraction of work, from time to time, is a good thing).

Susan said...

I think the real question here is why is our country so backward that our parental leave and healthcare are at the whim of employers, and some of those employers think that 5 days is sufficient time to establish family bonds with a new child.

Kristi said...

I worked for a major pharma when we adopted our two youngest children. I did not get any maternity leave whatsoever (I chose to take 4 months off unpaid each time). However they did give a significant adoption benefit to help pay for it, $5k at that time, and they've since increased it to $10k. I was surprised to learn that there was no parental leave at all except for medical leave for mothers giving birth, nothing for fathers either. But I did appreciate the financial assistance, it made the difference between us adopting or not.