Not all mothers are created equally in Australia:
AFTER many unsuccessful attempts at getting pregnant and enduring miscarriages, Susan* and her partner had the baby they had long wanted with the help of a surrogate. But they did not get the support they expected from her employer, the state government, with paid parental leave.
Soon after approaching her human resources department, she was told she was not eligible because the award only covered parents who had given birth to their children or to those who had adopted them. ”I’ve got a baby, the woman who adopts has got a baby, the woman who, fortunately for her, has had a baby; we’re all in the the same boat,” she said. ”We all, thank god, go home with a baby but those two get paid parenting leave and I don’t.”
Surrogacy Australia said it was aware of several recent cases of other public sector workers who had used a surrogate and been refused paid parental leave. The Crown Employees (Public Service Conditions of Employment) Award 2009 has provisions for maternal and adoption leave only and the Premier’s personnel handbook stipulates these do not apply to ”foster or surrogacy situations”.
The Herald understands some workers on the award who have had a baby through surrogacy have been able to claim or negotiate leave but that this is occurring inconsistently. ”Depending on the particular circumstances of the surrogate parent, an employee covered by the award may be able to take advantage of these leave provisions,” the Minister for Finance and Services, Greg Pearce, said.
Susan has lodged a complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Board, which has now been referred to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal.
The secretary of Surrogacy Australia, Sam Everingham, said many private employers had put in place non-discriminatory parental leave policies. The federal government’s paid parental leave scheme is also available to eligible parents who have their children with a surrogate.
The Greens MP David Shoebridge called on Mr Pearce to clarify the law. ”There needs to be commitment to reform so that surrogate parents get equal access to parental leave benefits.”
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