The United States objectively has some of the tightest policies regarding pregnancy, maternity, and paternity in the workplace. Too many organizations lack proper accommodations for expecting parents. Even after the arrival of the baby, this country’s norm is for mothers to snap back into the grind within a mere matter of a few months. Taking note of this tough hand that we’ve been dealt, let’s take a look at how HR can provide not just adequate, but exceptional support and accommodation for their Moms and Dads-to-be.
Create Inclusive Policies
Our Moms here at GoCo get 12 weeks of paid maternity leave. Our Dads get 4 weeks, fully paid as well.
Health insurance benefits will remain as is during the leave.
Something our team at GoCo likes to do for the new parents on our team is to help them out with a Food Train! We put together a schedule and take turns to provide premade, home-cooked meals for our moms and dads so that they can spend more time with their bundles of joy. We truly are a family, and this is the type of thing family does for each other!
Break Time For Nursing Mothers
We provide nursing mothers with a designated space to feed the baby, separate from the bathroom. Our moms can rest assured knowing that they have complete privacy and respect from co-workers and the public.
Important Laws to Abide By
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978
This law prohibits sex discrimination based on pregnancy. Employers are not allowed to enact any type of negative consequences onto an employee due to factors caused by or related to their pregnancy. This Act itself does not require any extra accommodations to be made for pregnant employees, but any decent employer knows that they should do everything in their power to help out their expecting team members. It would be pretty difficult to come up with a valid, non-discriminatory reason behind not providing suitable accommodations, so it's important to take the necessary steps to make your pregnant employees comfortable and happy in the workplace.
The Family and Medical Leave Act
Granted that a set of prerequisites are met, such as having spent one year at a place of employment and that the employer has a team of at least 50 people, this Act permits expectant parents to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave following the arrival of their child. For employee satisfaction and morale purposes, we recommend you opt to pay your employees while they’re on leave. Ushering a new child into the world, while incredible and exciting, is also astoundingly expensive. It makes no sense to cut your employee’s check when they likely need it most. Treat your employees well and observe how they treat you in return!
The Americans with Disabilities Act
Obviously, pregnancy itself is not a disability. However, some conditions that may arise alongside or because of pregnancy may fall under the ADA, such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes. If the ADA is invoked, the employee in question is eligible for accomodations, potentially including early leave. It’s best not to question the severity of any particular condition, seeing as that would only result in trouble for both you and your employee, as well as a broken relationship with your team member.
Tips For Your Organization
Properly Train Your Managers
The last thing you want on your hands is a case of a manager disrespecting and/or disregarding a pregnant subordinate. If such a situation should arise, that employee will most likely (and rightfully so) stir up quite the storm for HR. To avoid this all together, make sure your upper-level employees are properly trained and equipped to handle pregnancy in their teams with kindness and grace,
Reduce Physical Demands
Working while pregnant has been deemed as safe, for the most part. However, if your pregnant employee is normally tasked with more physically demanding tasks, consider reallocating those tasks to other team members and let your expecting employee take more of a passive role as their pregnancy progresses. Not only is this better for the health of your team members, but it’s also just a nice thing to do.
Emphasize Your Support and Reassure Your Employee
Navigating pregnancy can be scary, especially considering having to balance expecting a child with professional obligations, alongside everything else that life puts on our plates. Do your part in reassuring your employee that you’ve got their back as they enter this bright new chapter of parenthood. You never know how much you can help someone by letting them know that they don’t need to stress about work when they’re dealing with more pressing life events.
We can implement as many policies and protocols as we want, but at the end of the day, life is unpredictable. Preparing for the arrival of a new life is even more unpredictable. It’s absolutely crucial that your managers understand that they need to roll with the punches and work with their team in order to keep things running smoothly. Remember - your employee has to deal with navigating pregnancy, parenthood, and balancing work while your only responsibility in this situation is your workspace.
We hope that by giving you a look into our organization’s policies and by providing some tips for you to implement, that we’ve given you and organization a stronger sense of direction when it comes to dealing with expecting parents within your company. When a new child is to be expected, it’s such an incredible, joyous, and exciting time. The best thing you can do is support your expecting team members and be excited with them!