Parents in surrogate motherhood arrangements to get leave

Employers will be required to give two-month leave to parents in surrogate motherhood arrangements, under new proposals passed by Parliament yesterday.

The rights will benefit mothers who commission other women to carry babies on their behalf, placing them on the same pedestal with those who nurse their own pregnancies.

Fathers of such children will also be entitled to a two-week paternity leave.    

“Where a child is born as a result of a surrogate motherhood agreement, an employee who is a commissioning parent shall be entitled to (a) two consecutive months parental leave with full pay from the date the child is born in the case of a female employee; and (b) two weeks paternal leave with full pay, in the case of a male employee who is married," reads an amendment introduced by the Labour committee to the Employment (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The Bill, which is the brainchild of Gilgil MP Martha Wangari, has also extended similar privileges to parents who adopt children in foster homes or those already under the care of other parents and guardians.

The MP said said although she had pushed for more days in her Bill, there was a need to strike a balance between the needs of employees and employers in such situations.

Chair of the Labour committee Peter Mwathi argued that two months would provide adequate time for the commissioning mother to bond with her child.

"There is need to accord special consideration for parents as a surrogate agreement presents a unique situation where the primary care give is not the mother. It is the commissioning parents that provide care of the child and therefore requires sufficient time," he said.

Emuhaya MP Omboko Milemba argued that the leave window will allow completion of the adoption process of such children.

Under the country's laws, a child born through a surrogate arrangement still needs to be adopted through a court process.