It is not uncommon for employers to be concerned with employees who will go on maternity leave and desert the company in some sense or another. The stereotype employers may have is that the employee’s focus will be on her new baby, rather than her career. The employer is also concerned about loss of productivity while the employee is on maternity leave. Consequently, pregnancy discrimination exists in the workplace to this very day.
Employers simply don’t terminate pregnant employees. Instead to conceal their true intentions, the employer will either create a new term of employment or unreasonably enforce an existing requirement. For example, while the employee is on maternity leave, an employer may require that employee to renew a security badge by a date certain to which the employee will still be on maternity leave. Upon the failure of such employee to complete that task, the employer will then allege a justifiable offense for termination.
There’s also a strong interplay between requesting time off under the Family Medical Leave Act (F.M.L.A.) and pregnancy discrimination. Therefore, it’s imperative that pregnant women not be shy about their maternity leave and pregnancy rights. It’s always best to make these requests as soon as it is known how much time will be required for maternity leave. Also, don’t let the company blame you for assignments falling through the cracks during your absence.
For extended maternity leave, it is wise to look into telecommuting for at least part of your job while away. You may find that you are able to complete much of your job from your home and that caring for yourself and your baby may be entirely doable and as such, the number of weeks that maternity leave is requested can be shortened. You also may be building increased trust with your employer by completing assignments while not being under the employer’s roof.
Finally, it is quite unfortunate that the perception of many in the workplace, both at the management and employee level is that women really can’t manage both a career and a family. Nothing could be further from the truth. Millions of women are out there doing both quite successfully.
Don’t be intimidated or nervous about asserting your rights. Contact our office today.