Work Adjustments Due to Pregnancy
If you’re pregnant, you may find that even some of the basic tasks at your job have gotten way harder. Pregnancy takes a large toll on your body, even for those who have had a previous pregnancy. Working while you’re pregnant is totally possible, but can be extremely dangerous.
Pregnant workers will need to have certain adjustments to their work to stay healthy and strong for the baby. Legally, pregnant workers can ask for these reasonable adjustments. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act all allow pregnant workers to make necessary adjustments without fear of losing of their job.
In this article, you’ll find the adjustment you’re legally entitled to while you’re working. If you find that your workplace has become hostile due to your pregnancy, read our full article on pregnancy discrimination. Here, you’ll find X things pregnant workers can legally ask their employers to do.
Adjusted Work Hours
Legally, pregnant workers can ask to have their hours and breaks adjusted within reason to help with their condition. During your pregnancy, you may find your energy changes throughout the day. For example, pregnant workers commonly experience morning sickness. If you normally work in the morning, you can ask to have your hours changed. They way, your work will not be affected by your morning sickness.
Similarly, if you’re used to working 5 days in a row, you may notice your energy start to change. You can also ask your boss to change your schedule so you
In addition to adjusted shift schedules, you can also ask to have your breaks adjusted as well. This also includes break times to breastfeed or pump breast milk during post-pregnancy.
Safer Working Conditions
There may be some tasks you find yourself unable to do, or that are highly unsafe for you to do. For example, let’s say you’re a nurse or a janitorial staff at a hospital. You may feel unsafe completing certain tasks that come in close contact with hazardous waste. Due to your pregnancy, you’re at higher risk of infect and need adjustments to accommodate your health.
As long as the request is reasonable, pregnant workers can legally ask to have certain tasks and duties adjusted. Pregnant workers may also find that as their pregnancy progresses, their ability to do even more tasks may be limited. Ask your employer to have monthly meetings during your pregnancy, and be open with how you’re feeling physically and mentally.
Certain Policy Exemptions
Your work may have a policy that all employees remain standing while they’re working. Pregnant workers may find this incredibly difficult, especially if they need to ensure an 8 hour shift. You can legally ask your employer to make certain exemptions for your condition. This can be as simple such as allowing you to sit while working.
There may be other exemptions your employer will have to allow as well. For instance, your employer may require employees to wear certain clothing. As your body begins to change, that clothing may not fit like it used to. However, it’s unlikely that your employer will allow you to wear anything you want to- you can’t just show up in pyjamas! Be sure to discuss clothing options that are both appropriate and comfortable with your employer.
Additional Time Off
The Family and Medical Leave Act allows workers to receive time off to care for and have a baby. Check your state laws and with work’s HR department to see what additional maternity leave you’re entitled to.
In addition to maternity leave, pregnant workers may need additional time off of for:
- Medical exams and scans
- Midwife and doctor’s appointments
- Antenatal and parenting classes
There’s no law that says an employee can only request a certain amount of time off. However, your employer can legally deny you time off without a doctor’s notice or scheduled receipt for the reason time off is requested. Be sure to always have receipts and evidence of your reasoning behind needing time off.
Consider What Pregnancy-Related Adjustments You Need
Now that you know what you’re legally entitled to as a pregnant employee, think of some of the ways your pregnancy can affect your work. Do you have to stand frequently, carry heavy objects, or have a high-risk pregnancy that will require more time off? Be sure to assess the different adjustments that will have to be made during your pregnancy. Likewise, you should also assess ways that your pay could potentially be affected.
Currently, there are no legal protections for pregnant worker’s pay in relation to how they’re paid. Depending on the type of work you do, you may receive additional hazard pay for fulfilling certain tasks. However, as your pregnancy progresses, you may ask to stick solely to duties that are safe for you to do. Your pay could become dramatically affected because of this.
When you meet with your employer to discuss some of the necessary adjustments, be sure to mention your pay as well. Your employer cannot refuse to make any necessary adjustments, this is considered discrimination.
What To Do About Workplace Discrimination
Your workplace cannot discriminate against you for being pregnant. One of the most common forms of discrimination is employers denying a pregnant worker’s need for necessary adjustments. Another common form of discrimination is fellow co workers harrassing pregnant workers or belittle them for their changes.
If you’re being discriminated against in your workplace, file a complaint with your HR department. After you’ve filed your complaint, speak with a lawyer about the next steps you should take, and what to expect. If you want to get free legal advice on what you’re legally entitled to as a pregnant employee, call the number at the top of your screen to speak to an employment lawyer near you today.