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Maternity Leave 101: Your Rights as an Expectant Working Mom

Posted by Amber Boyd | Mar 15, 2024 | 0 Comments

Hey mom-to-be! If you're reading this, chances are you're a working woman navigating that bizarre new world of being pregnant on the job. Congrats - you're already nailing the #GirlBoss multi-tasking game!

While growing a tiny human is one of life's greatest miracles, being a pregnant employee can honestly kind of suck. The fatigue, nausea, and hormonal rollercoaster are hard enough without having to field backhanded comments about your growing bump or worries about job security.

But here's the deal - you have rights when it comes to maternity leave and discrimination protection. As working mamas, it's crucial we know them and claim them without apology.

So let's get into a quick Maternity Leave 101 class! Brush up on the need-to-knows about your rights as an expectant mom in the workplace:

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed in 1978, this amendment to the Civil Rights Act prohibits treating pregnant women differently than other employees with similar abilities. Your pregnancy cannot be the basis for employment dismissal, lighter duty assignments, or pay deductions - unless undergoing such would be considered too risky.

The Family and Medical Leave Act If you've been at your job for a year+, you're guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid, protected maternity leave annually under FMLA. During this time, your job is secure and you can keep health insurance coverage. Many companies are required to abide by FMLA or offer paid leave policies.

What About Paid Leave? Unfortunately, the U.S. is the only developed nation without federally mandated paid maternity leave. However, some states do provide short-term disability benefits or paid family leave through employee-paid payroll taxes. It's worth looking into your state's policies!

Health Insurance & Breastfeeding Rights Health insurance providers are required to cover pregnancy essentials like prenatal visits, gestational diabetes screening, breastfeeding gear, and contraception services. You also have the right to breastfeed or pump during work hours.

Requesting Accommodations Don't hesitate to request workplace accommodations like being excused from travel, avoiding harsh chemicals or foods, or modifying duties that could be considered hazardous. Employers must comply with reasonable requests related to pregnancy complications.

Okay, so now you're versed in your basic maternity leave rights and protections. But of course, actually claiming them without fear or guilt-tripping is a whole other battle. That's why it's so vital for us working mamas to lift each other up and speak out against pregnancy discrimination!

If you ever feel mistreated, sidelined, or denied reasonable accommodations relating to your pregnancy, don't just shut up and suffer through it. Report it to HR, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and if needed, explore legal action with an attorney. Your rights exist to be exercised!

Beyond flagging offenses, we've got to create cultures of support and empowerment for expectant workers and moms. Celebrate pregnancy announcements at work. Offer advice for negotiating maternity leave. Check in on mamas returning from leave. Mentor other working moms. Let's have each other's backs!

The more we normalize pregnancy on the job and fight institutionalized discrimination together, the closer we'll get to workplaces that truly accommodate and appreciate the feminine life force that is motherhood. It's a tough job being a working mom, but our rights make us unstoppable. Embrace them, claim them, and continue paving the way for mamas rising through the ranks.

We've got this, girls! Just remember - you're merging onto the motherhood highway, but you don't have to exit the career path. You've got rights in the driver's seat, so buckle up and keep crushing it.

About the Author

Amber Boyd

Amber K. Boyd is a versatile professional with strong experience in managing complex litigation matters. She founded Amber K. Boyd Attorney at Law in 2013, where she is the sole practitioner. Ms. Boyd specializes in employment law with a focus on discrimination cases. She also has deep expertise ...


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