By Jennifer Outcelt
Just in the last year, our small company has welcomed four new bouncing babies. As you can imagine, everyone in the office has become very familiar with the maternity (and one paternity) leave drill by now. With the announcement of each new baby, our office was filled with celebration and the parent to be was treated with exceptional respect, support, and fairness. They were all given appropriate legal accommodations in addition to generous company provided perks. So, when I found out that I was pregnant with the 5th baby within that 1 year, I knew that my company would have my back (and my growing front).
Unfortunately, that is not always the case for many women and men in the work place. There are many parents who are not granted their federally mandated rights during pregnancy, maternity leave, and their post-partum return to work. While expecting a new baby should bring you joy, preparing for a leave of absence often brings uncertainty and financial stress. It’s not necessarily that employers are out to rob you of your benefits, but that many employers do not know what they are required to provide and the employees have no idea what they are entitled to. This lack of understanding can leave both employers and employees at risk, albeit in different ways.
The best solution (and honestly the solution to most workplace situations) is awareness, education, and self-advocacy. I wanted to share some resources on maternity and family leave for both parties. Please take a moment to peruse the information and perhaps learn a bit more about employer and employee rights.
(Website with a great overview on workplace maternity rights)
(Broker Briefcase document on the Pregnancy Discrimination Act)
(Broker Briefcase document on the Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination)
(Website with more resources from the DOL about workplace nursing rights)
(US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website about legal rights for pregnant workers)