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What are accommodations that employers should make for pregnancy?

When employees become pregnant, many employers, even those big employers who should know better, act like they have never dealt with a pregnant employee before. This may happen due to a lack of manager and supervisor training, but whatever the reason behind a certain situation, pregnant employees deserve fair and legal treatment.

With that in mind, employers can make several accommodations, and these changes really should not affect the big picture or their bottom line.

Policy modification

If a policy calls for employees to stand while working, pregnant employees may be entitled to modifications that let them sit. The same idea applies to rules relating to the dress code and foods and drinks the employer allows the employee to have.

Flexible scheduling

Employees should allow pregnant employees to take water and bathroom breaks and to limit their overtime. Employers can also be flexible with arrival times and leave times plus times needed out of the office for doctor appointments and to deal with sickness and pregnancy-related conditions. Telecommuting, if feasible, could be a great option.

Fewer physical demands

Sitting instead of standing is not the only way employers can help with the physical toll of pregnancy. They can also change employees' workstations, chairs and parking spots. Lifting aids and stools are also helpful, and some of an employee's duties may need a temporary reassignment.

All that said, it is not employers' place to tell pregnant employees what they should do or to make decisions for them. For instance, an employer may think it is being generous by telling a pregnant worker, "You are not allowed to work any more overtime because it is hard on your body," but the employer has no idea of the particulars of that employee's situation. It could be that this pregnant worker can handle the demands of overtime (and needs that money!). Maybe a previous pregnant worker preferred not to do overtime, but this is a different person.


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