Female Employee Pregnancy Rights and Maternity Leave

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Despite many laws that are in existence to protect expectant women from discrimination at the workplace, studies show that pregnant women still face various challenges in the office. Reports indicate that some bosses fire their employees simply because they are expectant. In America, around 5,370 cases of pregnancy discrimination are filed to government agencies every year.


Nevertheless, according to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, it’s illegal to be biased against women with young ones in the workplace. Some of the policies you need to learn more about concerning this law include:

I. A firm can’t refuse to hire a woman simply because she’s pregnant 

This practice is quite common especially with those applying for low-wage jobs, it also occurs at companies that depend on expectant women as their primary customer base. Additionally, some employees refuse to give jobs to younger ladies out of the fear that they may become pregnant in the future, thus interrupting their productivity in the office.

II. An employer can’t fire a woman from work because she’s expecting a baby

Sometimes, bosses try to disguise their biasness towards these people behind good intentions. For instance, they may claim that retrenching them is for their own personal safety. But in other cases the discrimination can be more blatant. In whichever case, it’s still illegal.

Even when a job involves handling toxic chemicals or working with heavy objects, employers should not lay off pregnant women unless they consent to it first. Courts are adamant that decisions concerning the safety of a woman and her fetus can only be determined by the employee and her physician, not the boss.

III. New mothers can pump breast milk at the workplace provided it’s in a safe place. 

A firm can’t lay off or discriminate against women simply because they are lactating. The Affordable Care Act requires companies and employers to provide reasonable breastfeeding breaks to lactating mothers, this should be done for up to 1yr after the child is born. Additionally, employers are mandated to provide a safe and secure venue other than the washroom to do so.

However, there’s an exception for small firms. If a company with less than 50 workers can prove that providing breaks or private space to pregnant women would cause ‘unnecessary hardship’ to the firm, it may be exempted from this policy.

IV. In some instances, pregnancy-related conditions can entitle women to certain special treatments. 

A normal expectancy without any complications is not regarded as a disability under the federal law, hence it doesn’t entitle an employee to special treatment. However, women with pregnancy-related challenges or temporary impairments must be given special care just like other staff members with medical impairments. If a firm has a solid policy in place, the expectant woman can for example be given light duties due to her condition.

Other reasonable accommodations that can be put in place include; changing her work-schedule if she has intense morning sickness, or allowing the woman to keep a bottle of water at her work station. In such cases, the worker should provide the employer with a doctor’s note, determining that there’s a medical problem which may briefly limit her productivity.