Maternity Leave Laws
Need a sample maternity leave policy? Information on pregnancy disability leave? We can help with the latest on topics like disability maternity leave.
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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.
Q. A while ago two of our employees developed a romantic relationship. They are now expecting a baby and both workers put in a request for family leave to bond with their newborn. Are we required to give both workers leave for the birth of their child—even if they are not married?
Regularly remind bosses that they should never comment on an employee’s pregnancy, pregnancy-related problems or the desire to have children. Only two responses are appropriate: Congratulate the employee when things go well and offer condolences when they do not. Anything else may be interpreted as discrimination based on pregnancy.
It can be complicated to handle a pregnant employee when she can’t perform some part of her job. That’s because three federal laws—the ADA, the FMLA and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act—intersect to provide protection for some pregnant workers who have medical restrictions.
A recent decision by the California Court of Appeal illustrates just how complicated and costly it can be to discipline an employee who is on protected leave.
If an employee is experiencing pregnancy complications, it may not be enough to provide four months of leave under California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law. For practical purposes, four months is the minimum leave employers are required to provide. You may owe more time off under the California FEHA, as long as it doesn’t create an undue hardship on your business operations.
What not to say to a pregnant worker: “The baby is taking a toll on you.” Surprisingly, that’s exactly what a four-month-pregnant waitress was told when she was cut from the weekly schedule and then fired. The employer will now pay $20,000 to settle her pregnancy discrimination suit.
Q. Is it a violation of the PDA to fire a pregnant employee for excessive absenteeism and lateness?
Here’s a good reason to make sure pregnant employees don’t experience bias: The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act protects against pregnancy discrimination and holds personally liable anyone who aids or abets discriminatory practices.