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How to Deal With Pregnancy, Legally - FAQs

How to Deal With Pregnancy, Legally - FAQs

March 03, 2008
















Provide Another Job

Q. If, for pregnancy-related reasons, an employee is unable to perform the functions of her job, does the employer have to provide an alternative job?

A. An employer is required to treat an employee temporarily unable to perform the functions of the job (because of her pregnancy-related condition) in the same manner as it treats other temporarily disabled employees, whether by providing modified tasks, alternative assignments, disability leave, leave without pay, etc. For example, a woman’s primary job function may be the operation of a machine, and, incidental to that function, she may carry materials to and from the machine. If other employees temporarily unable to lift are relieved of these functions, pregnant employees also unable to lift must be temporarily relieved of the function.
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How to Determine if She Can Work

Q. May an employer place on leave a pregnant employee who claims she is able to work, or deny leave to a pregnant employee who claims she is disabled from work?

A. An employer may not single out pregnancy-related conditions for determining an employee’s ability to work. However, an employer may use any procedure used to determine the ability of all employees to work. For example, if an employer requires its employees to submit a doctor’s statement concerning their inability to work before granting leave or paying sick benefits, the employer may require employees affected by pregnancy- related conditions to submit such statements. Similarly, if an employer allows its employees to obtain doctors’ statements from their personal physicians for absences due to other disabilities or return-dates from other disabilities, it must accept doctors’ statements from personal physicians for absences and return-dates connected with pregnancy-related disabilities.
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Length of Leave

Q. Can an employer have a rule which prohibits an employee from returning to work for a predetermined length of time after childbirth?

A. No.
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Stay off Until Delivery?

Q. If an employee has been absent from work as a result of a pregnancy-related condition and recovers, may her employer require her to remain on leave until after her baby is born?

A. No. An employee must be permitted to work at all times during pregnancy when she is able to perform her job.
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Keep Job Open?

Q. Must an employer hold open the job of an employee who is absent on leave because she is temporarily disabled by pregnancy-related conditions?

A. Unless the employee informs the employer that she does not intend to return to work, her job must be held open for her return on the same basis as jobs are held open for employees on sick or disability leave for other reasons.
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Status During Leave

Q. May an employer’s policy concerning the accrual and crediting of seniority during absences for medical conditions be different for employees affected by pregnancy-related conditions?

A. No. An employer’s seniority policy must be the same for employees absent for pregnancy-related reasons as for those absent for other medical reasons.
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Fringe Benefits

Q. For purposes of calculating such matters as vacations and pay increases, may an employer credit time spent on leave for pregnancy-related reasons differently than time spent on leave for other reasons?

A. No. An employer’s policy with respect to crediting time for the purpose of calculating such matters as vacation and pay increases cannot treat employees on leave for pregnancy-related reasons less favorably than employees on leave for other reasons. For example, if an employee on leave for medical reasons is credited with the time spent on leave when computing entitlement to vacation or pay raises, an employee on leave for pregnancy- related disability is entitled to the same kind of time credit.
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Hiring

Q. Must an employer hire a woman who is medically unable, because of a pregnancy-related condition, to perform a necessary function of a job?

A. No. An employer can refuse to hire a woman because of her pregnancy-related condition so long as she is unable to perform the major functions necessary to do the job.
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Only Marrieds Protected?

Q. May an employer limit disability benefits for pregnancy-related conditions to married employees?

A. No.
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All Female Workforce

Q. If an employer has an all-female workforce or job classification, must benefits be provided for pregnancy- related conditions?

A. Yes. If benefits are provided for other conditions, they must be be provided for pregnancy-related conditions.
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Income Maintenance

Q. For what length of time must an employer who provides income maintenance benefits for temporary disabilities provide such benefits for pregnancy-related disabilities?

A. Benefits should be provided for as long as the employee is unable to work for medical reasons unless some other limitation is set for all other temporary disabilities, in which case pregnancy-related disabilities should be treated the same as other temporary disabilities.
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Long-Term Disability

Q. Must an employer who provides benefits for long-term or permanent disabilities provide such benefits for pregnancy-related conditions?

A. Yes. Benefits for long-term or permanent disabilities resulting from pregnancy-related conditions must be provided to the same extent as they are provided for other conditions which result in long-term or permanent disability.
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Fringe Benefits

Q. If an employer provides benefits to employees on leave, such as installment purchase disability insurance; payment of premium for health, life, or other insurance; or continued payments into pension, savings or profit- sharing plans, must the same benefits be provided for those on leave for pregnancy-related conditions?

A. Yes, the employer must provide the same benefits for those on leave for pregnancy-related conditions as for those on leave for other reasons.
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Vacation

Q. Can an employee who is absent due to a pregnancy-related disability be required to exhaust vacation benefits before receiving sick leave pay or disability benefits?

A. No. If employees who are absent because of other disabling causes receive sick leave pay or disability benefits without any requirement that they first exhaust vacation benefits, the employer cannot impose this requirement on an employee for a pregnancy-related cause.
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Information courtesy of:
What Every Business Manager and HR Professional Should Know About Federal Labor and Employment Laws


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