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What accommodations are reasonable during and after pregnancy?

If you're pregnant, do you know your rights at work? What should you expect your employer to do (or not do)?

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (among other things) requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant women and new mothers. However, there are some guidelines that have to be followed to avoid problems. These are some important facts that employees need to know:

You can't expect your employer to offer accommodations

You have to ask for the accommodations. They aren't automatic because it would be discriminatory for your employer to assume that all pregnant women need the same accommodations -- or any accommodations at all. If you need something from your employer, speak up.

The goal is to keep you working as normally as possible

You and your employer likely have the same goal: You want your pregnancy to affect your job as little as possible. In order to make that happen, it's reasonable to ask for the following sort of things (depending on your job):

  • Flexibility regarding doctor's visits, especially close to your due date
  • A change in schedule, including the use of flex time
  • The ability to stand or sit as necessary to relieve discomfort
  • Adjustments to your routine duties, especially any that require heavy lifting or bending
  • The ability to work remotely (from home) when possible
  • Extended bathroom breaks

Your employer will take the cues from you -- so the clearer you are about your needs, the easier it will be.

When you return to work following the birth, you have a legal right to keep nursing

If you choose to nurse, your employer is required to give you additional accommodations following the birth of your child. That includes the right to reasonable breaks in order to express your milk and a private space to do so.

Remember -- discrimination based on your pregnancy and/or decision to nurse is illegal and may be a form of sexual harassment.

Source: Integrity HR, "10 Things Employers Should Know About Accommodating Pregnant Employees," accessed May 10, 2018

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