Being Pregnant at Work Just Got a Whole Lot Easier

pregnant woman at workIt's been 30 years in the making, but the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has finally gotten around to reevaluating their pregnancy guidelines, and it's great news for all the pregnant ladies out there. The new guidelines about workplace pregnancy discrimination outline everything from disclosing your growing bump to your right to lactate, and expecting moms (and even pregnant-ladies-to-be): it's your time to rejoice!

Until now, the laws have been a bit open to interpretation, so employers and courts were free to bend them how they saw fit. But no more. Even if you live in one of the worst states for working pregnant women, this applies to you. So if you're currently pregnant, are planning on getting pregnant, or have a pregnant coworker, here are some main new guidelines to remember:

  1. Women don't have to disclose their pregnancies -- Sharing pregnancy news with the world is a huge deal, so if you choose to keep your pregnancy from your boss, he or she cannot hold it against you. Want to keep it a secret? Go for it. It cannot be a factor in your hiring process and beyond.
  2. Pregnancy announcements cannot change a woman's work status -- If you decide to take the step and tell the office you're expecting (and there are great ways to make the pregnancy announcement at work), more power to ya! You cannot be denied bathroom breaks or be fired, demoted, forced to take leave, or changed in position just because of that growing baby bump.
  3. Light duty work must be available -- If it's an option for men, it must be an option for women. Period. And that most definitely includes the pregnant crowd. If you cannot do heavy lifting, you know, since you have that giant belly and all, employers must have light duty work available for you. Especially if they have the same options for individuals with back problems or other physically limiting health conditions.
  4. Women have the right to lactate on their own schedule -- If you're a breastfeeding momma, you have not been forgotten! The new guidelines now consider lactation to be a medical condition (um, finally?) and entitle workers to special accommodations at work. The EEOC's report states that "if an employer allows employees to change their schedules or use sick leave for routine doctor appointments and to address non-incapacitating medical conditions, then it must allow female employees to change their schedules or use sick leave for lactation-related needs."
  5. Parental leave applies to both parents -- That's right, dads! Under the EEOC's new guidelines, mothers and fathers have equal leaves to bond with their child after birth. Moms do get a little bonus, though, to recover physically from giving birth, but both parents are treated equally when it comes to parental leave.

What are your thoughts on the new guidelines?


Image © Mitchell

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