Pregnancy can be a very exciting time, but it is also a time when women may be unusually limited what they can do on the job. They may not be medically cleared to lift as much as they usually would, for example, even if they are quite strong.
They may find themselves getting fatigued after only minimal physical activity. Some women develop serious health conditions, like gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia, that create even more limitations on what they can do. Ideally, women can ask their employers to provide certain forms of support during pregnancy that will protect them from medical complications, and there are a few ways that they can more effectively go about addressing their concerns.
Get a doctor’s recommendations in writing
One of the most effective ways to convince an employer that certain accommodations are necessary will be to provide documentation from their physician. A doctor’s note explaining how a woman needs to limit certain types of activity or how much she lifts can make all the difference when talking to an employer. Whether a woman needs to be able to work from home or to change job responsibilities, a physician’s note will make it much more likely for her employer to acquiesce to her requests.
Request a meeting with management or human resources
Simply mentioning to a team lead or other supervisor in passing that one is pregnant will not be enough to trigger changes to job responsibilities or obtain necessary accommodations. Workers often need to have an in-depth conversation with human resources or management to achieve the desired outcome. Sometimes, an initial email outlining a doctor’s note and a woman’s pregnant status can be enough to get the ball rolling. Companies may not be able to provide exactly what a physician recommends, but they may be able to offer alternate accommodations that will achieve the same goals regarding the worker’s health needs.
Have resources ready in case of a dispute
Some employers have never had to accommodate a pregnant worker before or have historically been able to avoid consequences for discriminating against women during pregnancy. Workers need to know their rights and to be able to refer their employers to the right resources. Referencing specific laws, like the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, can make a big difference for those who need accommodations during pregnancy. Workers may also want to keep personal documentation of attempts to address their pregnancy-related limitations so that they can hold their employers accountable for refusing accommodations or otherwise discriminating against them.
Learning more about the rules that govern pregnancy accommodations may help women balance the need to keep working with the need to stay safe during pregnancy. Seeking legal guidance whenever related questions arise is always an option.