Maternity Leave Laws

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When a formerly high-rated em­­ployee suddenly finds herself on the receiving end of a poor evaluation, she’s likely to look for a reason—such as her recent announcement that she is expecting a baby.
Ordinarily, if an employer can show it decided to terminate an employee before she announced her pregnancy, a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit won’t succeed. But employers that try to make a better case for termination by whipping up a new performance appraisal that emphasizes poor performance can wind up handing the employee an easy lawsuit victory.
Beginning Jan. 30, most ­employers with employees working in New York City will be required to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees.
Here’s a simple message you can pass on to bosses dealing with pregnant employees: Tell them the only appropriate response is to offer the mother-to-be a congratulations when she announces her pregnancy.
Laredo-based Platinum PTS will pay a former employee $100,000 to settle charges it violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. According to her complaint, the former employee was fired after she asked for time off following a miscarriage.
Let's say someone requests a series of leave extensions for medical reasons. You approve them over several months until she’s used up all available accumulated leave—and then approve unpaid extensions in the hope she’ll return soon. At that point, you are free to ask if her doctor can provide a definite return date. If the answer is no, you can safely terminate her.
The EEOC is suing a Chick-fil-A res­­tau­­rant in Concord, alleging violations of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act that almost any savvy HR professional would have known to avoid.
Here’s an important tip to pass on to all supervisors: Never speculate on why an employee may be performing poorly. Focus on the work and leave the psychoanalysis to experts. That’s especially true when you think an employee’s work may be affected by pregnancy or pregnancy-related complications.
Q. We are a small company and have seven employees. One of our employees recently went out on a leave of absence for pregnancy. During that time, we hired a replacement worker to do the same job. The replacement only worked part time, but was still able to complete work that our employee did full time. When our employee returns to work, we would like to change her job status from full time to part time. Is this legal?
Some things are best left unsaid. That includes any comments about how hard it must be for a mother to have a career and raise children. Tell managers to keep the topic out of their office chitchat.