Adjustments Pregnant Workers Can Legally Ask For
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, and working while pregnant is totally possible, but you have your limits.
Pregnant workers legally have the right to work adjustments in order to stay healthy and strong. There are laws that allow pregnant workers to make necessary adjustments without fearing for her job. Here are 4 things pregnant workers can legally ask their employer for.
Adjusted Work Hours
Legally, pregnant workers can ask to have their hours and breaks adjusted within reason. 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.
You can ask for other schedule changes as well if you feel it impacts your work or pregnancy. You can even have your breaks adjusted so they’re more staggered. Your employer must understand that you will need to take breaks to attend to your pregnancy during and after such as pumping for breast milk.
Safer Working Conditions
There will be tasks you just simply can’t do anymore, or that are highly unsafe for you to do. For example, let’s say you’re a nurse or a cleaner 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 infection 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. As your pregnancy progresses, you might become even more limited to what you can do. Ask your employer to have monthly meetings during your pregnancy, and be open about 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. This is incredibly difficult if you’re pregnant, especially during an 8-hour shift. You can legally ask your employer to make certain exemptions for your condition. This can be as simple as allowing you to sit while working.
Another policy exemption is what you’re allowed to wear. It’s unlikely that your employer will allow you to wear anything you want to, but you might not be able to wear everything you’re supposed to. This is especially true as your body begins to rapidly change. 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 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for and have a baby. Check your state laws and HR department’s policy to see what additional maternity leave you’re entitled to.
In addition to maternity leave, pregnant workers may need additional time off 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 requested. Be sure to always have receipts and evidence behind your needed time off.
Consider What Adjustments Your Pregnancy Needs
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. Ask yourself if you:
- Have to stand frequently
- Carry heavy objects
- Interact with hazardous materials
- Have a high-risk pregnancy or special condition
To legally protect yourself as much as possible, meet with your employer to discuss your necessary adjustments. Your employer cannot refuse to make any necessary adjustments, this is discrimination. They can, however, revoke hazard and overtime pay.
Please note that there are no legal protections for a pregnant worker’s pay. Depending on the type of work you do, you may be receiving additional hazard pay for fulfilling certain tasks. Your pay could dramatically change because of what you’re able to do.
Keep a paper trail of this meeting, and get every agreement or denied request in writing. You can always ask a lawyer if you’re entitled to more than what your employer is giving you.
What To Do About Workplace Discrimination
Your workplace cannot discriminate against you for being pregnant. It’s discriminatory for employers to deny a pregnant worker’s need for necessary adjustments. You have the right to sue your employer if you’re harassed or belittled over these changes.
If you’re harassed, file a complaint with your HR department. Next, speak with a lawyer about the next steps you should take, what to expect, and what compensation you can get for your suffering.