Pregnancy is a beautiful journey that brings a wave of joy, but it also raises questions about how it meshes with your daily work routine. A common query many expecting mothers have is whether they can be put on light duty during pregnancy. It’s not just a workplace concern; it’s a matter of balancing your well-being with professional responsibilities.
In this blog, let’s chat about the real stuff – your rights, what your employer can do to support you, and how to find that balance where your health and job happily coexist.
Navigating Pregnancy and Your Job
Welcoming a new life into the world is exciting, but it also comes with considerations for your well-being at work. If certain job functions become challenging or unsafe due to pregnancy, it’s important to know that you have rights. Any employment law attorney would argue that there are federal laws that grant you the right to request reasonable accommodations that ensure a safe and healthy work environment during your pregnancy.
These accommodations could take various forms, such as additional breaks, the option to sit instead of standing, specialized ergonomic office furniture, changes in shifts, the elimination of certain duties, or even the opportunity to work from home. As a pregnant woman working for an employer with over 15 employees, federal protections are in place to guard against pregnancy-based harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
Two key pieces of legislation, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), provide the legal framework for your protection. Under these laws, you have the right to request and receive adjustments to your work duties, ensuring that you can continue to perform your job without compromising your health.
Eligibility for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a labor law ensuring that employers with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius provide essential leave for family and medical needs, including pregnancy.
If eligible for FMLA, employees can receive up to 12 weeks of leave. To qualify, an employee must have logged at least 1,250 work hours in the 12 months preceding leave and have been with the company for 12 months. Employers must grant FMLA leave when all criteria are met, and it is illegal for them to deny this benefit or retaliate against employees upon their return.
Understanding Light Duty During Pregnancy
In some instances, pregnancy can impact a woman’s ability to perform her job even with reasonable accommodations. When this happens, she may consider taking leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, employers, in certain cases, might propose an alternative – a light-duty assignment, allowing the employee to continue working without taking leave.
It’s crucial to emphasize that while employers can present light-duty assignments as an option, pregnant employees still retain the legal right to take FMLA leave. No pressure should be exerted on them to opt for a light-duty assignment. According to federal law (29 C.F.R. 825.207(e)), any light-duty assignment offered should not be counted against the employee’s FMLA allotment.
Under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines, employers are obligated to offer temporary light-duty assignments to pregnant employees who are unable to perform their regular job duties, even if they do not pursue FMLA leave. This obligation extends to cases where similar accommodations are offered to non-pregnant employees facing comparable work restrictions due to health conditions.
Striking the Right Balance
Going through pregnancy while holding down a job means knowing your rights and finding a sweet spot between your health and work duties. The laws like the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are there to back you up. They give you the power to ask for reasonable changes at work to keep things safe and healthy during your pregnancy journey, and they shield you from any unfair treatment.
When it comes to work adjustments, some companies might suggest light-duty tasks as an alternative to taking time off under FMLA. It’s crucial to remember, though, that you have the right to choose FMLA leave without anyone pushing you toward a light-duty option. The rules from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) say that bosses should offer temporary light-duty tasks if you can’t do your regular job, even if you don’t go for FMLA leave. Understanding these bits helps you make decisions that put your well-being and job on a balanced scale during this special time.