It isn’t always easy to know as an employer how you are supposed to accommodate the different needs of your employees — particularly when they are pregnant.
Pregnancies seldom go exactly as anticipated, and they can vary — a lot. Where one woman might sail through a pregnancy without missing a beat at work, another might struggle daily with nausea, fatigue and other complications.
As an employer, it’s your job to make sure that you accommodate employees on both ends of the spectrum as needed. Failure to do that isn’t really an option, because that amounts to gender and/or disability discrimination under the law.
Here are some things that you should consider when you have a pregnant woman on your team. First, keep in mind that this is a temporary condition. Whatever adjustments you need to make aren’t going to last forever. Knowing that should make it a little easier to accommodate your pregnant worker wherever necessary.
Be responsive. As soon as a pregnant employee notifies you that she needs accommodations — even if she doesn’t use those exact words — take action.
- Review her job duties and ask what might be a problem. Don’t assume that you know.
- Set a follow-up for another review later in the pregnancy or make it clear that your door is open and you can readjust things as necessary if the situation changes. The accommodations she needs early in the pregnancy could be different by the end.
- If you have a light-duty program, ask if reassignment to that program would be helpful.
Do not ask your pregnant employee if she intends to return to work after the birth. You should also not ask if she plans any more pregnancies.
Make it clear to other employees that harassment of pregnant employees is not acceptable or tolerated. That includes inappropriate jokes about birth control or her weight and snide comments about any accommodations you are making.
Ultimately, fostering a company culture that’s welcoming to pregnant employees is a smart move. You’ll reap the rewards not only by avoiding employment litigation but also by nurturing the relationship you have with a significant portion of the workforce.
Source: Entrepreneur, “What Accommodations Must Be Made for a Pregnant Employee?,” Jonathan Segal, accessed March 30, 2018