When a worker announces their pregnancy, you probably have two reactions. As a supportive manager or boss, you likely feel excitement and happiness for someone adding to their family. However, as someone with responsibility for keeping the company running, you will inevitably also worry about what that pregnancy might mean for your company’s operations.
It is crucial to understand pregnancy discrimination and employment laws so that your company doesn’t inadvertently run afoul of them. There are many ways to avoid pregnancy discrimination, but the following three tips can go a long way toward protecting your business and your expectant employees.
Have a clear policy on pregnancy leave
If your company is big enough, an expectant worker can potentially ask for unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Even if your company is small enough to avoid the legal requirements of the FMLA, you still have to consider the needs of new parents when you start your workplace policies. Allowing for paid leave or having a system in place to accommodate new parents can decrease the likelihood of someone alleging discrimination.
When a pregnant worker needs accommodations, try to help her
Some women are able to work even in highly demanding and physical jobs for the entire length of their pregnancy. Others develop complications like pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes that affect what work they can do.
If your employee is subject to rest requirements, you might consider whether they can work remotely. If they need time off their feet or have limitations on their lifting abilities, changing your job responsibilities temporarily in response to a doctor’s recommendations are crucial to avoiding allegations of pregnancy discrimination.
Documentation is crucial if you discipline a pregnant worker
Pregnancy doesn’t just have physical complications. It can wreak havoc on a woman’s hormones and emotions as well. Pregnant workers may be more prone to insubordination or fights with co-workers. If you do have to discipline or even terminate a pregnant woman, careful documentation of every infraction in writing will be crucial to showing your decision was not discriminatory.
Understanding the laws that protect pregnant workers can help your company avoid breaking them. If you have questions or concerns, an experienced attorney can help.