How to Better Accommodate Pregnant Women in Your Office
It’s important to know what your office can and should do to support pregnant women in the workplace. Certain support policies are required by law, and there are legal ramifications to not following proper guidelines. If you don’t address the contingency of pregnancy in the workplace, you will have trouble creating a culture of trust.
Keep Support Open
Your office should have a clear support system for pregnant women. Otherwise, they might worry about whether their position and livelihood are threatened. They could feel they should hide a pregnancy because of uncertainty about how they will be treated. Let your employees know that their job is safe and that they can come to you. Inform them that if they are ill or having issues related to pregnancy, they won’t be punished for it. Figure out ways to support women who need to make their prenatal appointments during work hours. It’s also a good idea to create a support system of other workers who can help a pregnant employee with practical issues. This will help her know where to go with questions about benefits, insurance, and childcare.
Know the Legal Requirements
Office management needs to be aware of the legal requirements for pregnant women. Pregnancy discrimination can have serious consequences for your business. Discrimination occurs when you penalize a pregnant employee in any way for her condition. Employees can document this behavior for legal action. You can’t fire or demote a pregnant employee because she is pregnant, and you can be sued if you try. Most states require you to work with a pregnant employee who needs accommodations due to her pregnancy. Make sure you know how long your employee can be away from work after having the baby, and have a place for your employee to pump milk if she wishes to after she comes back.
Talk It Over Early
If an employee is completely unaware of how pregnancy is handled at your office, she might have justifiable concerns about discrimination in the workplace after letting you know she’s expecting. Don’t wait to talk about your company’s attempts to accommodate pregnant women. Your policy should be transparent and explained thoroughly by your human resources department to all employees. Everyone in your organization should be aware of it.
Don’t avoid talking to pregnant employees about their needs. An open atmosphere in which everyone feels free to ask questions will promote the most comfortable and productive environment. Know what rights a pregnant employee is entitled to and be sure to accommodate them in any reasonable way you can.