I just read the
debate on an HR blog about the advisability of forcing an employee who is 36
weeks pregnant to stop working and begin maternity leave. The employer is
afraid she will deliver at work. I had to read it all.
If you have ever
considered telling a pregnant employee when they should start their leave I
hope you did not make this statement out loud. You could create a load of
problems. First there is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. A pregnant employee
can perform her job; an employer can’t discriminate against her. Then there are
all those personal medical questions employers should not be asking.
Don’t think that
you can suggest the employee just go on disability early. If they are not disabled
a doctor should not be certifying disability. If you don’t have disability
coverage you don’t want to force an employee to take vacation or sick days when
they are not ready for a leave.
It’s odd to ask
an employee to take a leave when there are so many situations when employers
don’t think that employees truly qualify for a leave under the Family and
Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA covers employers with 50 or more employees.
Part time employees are included in the count. Covered employers have to allow
employees who have worked a year, and at least 1,000 hours, to take leaves for
specific reasons, including the birth of a child. Employers struggle with all
of the details in FMLA leaves. With FMLA leave requests you can ask for a
medical certification. But you can’t go out and request the leave for the
employee, that’s their responsibility.
I have seen
pregnant employees in all kinds of roles. The pregnant bell attendant was moved
to driving the limo when she could no longer carry all the bags, but she wasn’t
sent home. There are certainly some employees who choose to take time off
before a child is born. Some of them are even fathers! Others want to work as
long as possible even past a due date if the baby has not yet arrived.
questions do you have about maternity leaves and pregnant employees?