Last week I wrote about when do you tell work you’re pregnant and it sparked some interesting side conversations that I thought I would write about this week.
So … if you recall, I mentioned a friend of mine last week that was worried about telling her employer she was pregnant. Aside from the points mentioned last week, she feels she has a whole other element to worry about. She is concerned with her job stability in this tough economic environment. She works for a company that is potentially looking to make wide sweeping cuts and is worried about becoming a target. We discussed this for a while and concluded that her paranoid hormones were partially to blame. We both know that technically you can’t get laid off just because you are pregnant, and she has a proven track record of success so in theory, she should not have anything to worry about.
On the flip side, I had a situation when I was recently getting ready to go out on maternity leave. There was a job opening within my department, that given normal circumstances (i.e. if I wasn’t 9 months pregnant and getting ready to take 4 months off) would have been my ideal job. I discussed this with my boss and asked if there was any way they would still consider me for the position. Again, I could barely belly up to the table we were discussing this at because I was so hugely pregnant. So while I knew they couldn’t technically factor that into the interview process, I could not ignore the fact that I was asking for something that I could not commit to for another 4 months or so. My boss was overly careful not to even mention my pregnancy in any of those discussions and encouraged me to apply for the job. Ironically labor contractions started at the exact time of my first interview! To me that felt like a sign that the timing just wasn’t right personally and I pulled out of the running.
So, while I work for a very large company that is extremely sensitive to lawsuits, some may even say you actually gain job security when you are pregnant. However, I have heard of some instances where women ARE impacted at work the minute they announce they are pregnant – whether directly or indirectly or maybe even unintentional, it does happen.
So I thought I would do a little digging into what the laws are. Before I go any further, I just want to say – I am by no means an expert on any of this!! I know the laws vary based on employer as well as your individual status within a company (i.e. how many hours you work/how long you’ve been there). I strongly suggest you check with your HR department if you have any questions specific to your own situation or check out the links provided below.
You’ve probably heard of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but if you’re like me, you may not know exactly what it means or what you are entitled to. In a nutshell, FMLA provides eligible employees with up to 12 work weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave a year. Many employees also provide your normal pay for a portion of this time or you may be eligible for short term disability pay. FMLA also requires group health benefits to be maintained during the leave as if employees continued to work instead of taking leave (you do have to continue to pay your portion during the leave).
FMLA applies to your company if there are over 50 employees within 75 miles of the worksite, and at least 50 of your employees work 20 or more work-weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. If your company is a public agency, you are subject to provide FMLA regardless of the number of employees employed. All schools, private or public, are considered public agencies.
To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must work for a covered employer, have worked for that employer for at least 12 months; and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of the FMLA leave.
For more detailed information, check out this site: http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/fmla
Hopefully this is helpful information if you are in a situation where you are pregnant and concerned with your status at work. If anyone has any additional information that would be beneficial, please share!
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