Accommodation Ideas for Pregnancy
During pregnancy and postpartum, some women experience no, or very few, limitations. But at certain points during their pregnancies or recovery, some women may be limited in their ability to perform certain tasks such as heavy lifting, climbing ladders, or running. Some women may develop complications as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, such as diabetes, back impairment, high blood pressure, urinary tract infections, severe dehydration, and depression. And for some women, pregnancy and childbirth may exacerbate existing impairments. As a result, women who are working during pregnancy may require job accommodations during and after their pregnancies.
Pregnancy by itself is generally not considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because it does not meet part of the definition of disability. To have a disability under the ADA, a person must have an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; pregnancy by itself is not considered an impairment. However, complications resulting from pregnancy and childbirth, as well as conditions exacerbated by pregnancy and childbirth, may constitute impairments and may therefore be disabilities.
If a person does not have a disability, there is no obligation to accommodate under the ADA. However, according to the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), employees who are pregnant may have rights under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) or state laws. The PDA provides that pregnant workers must be treated at least as well as other workers who are similar in their ability or inability to work. Under this rule, if an employer accommodates an employee whose disability is a back injury that temporarily prevents the employee from lifting more than 20 pounds, for example, the employer likely must also accommodate the pregnant worker whose pregnancy temporarily prevents her from lifting more than 20 pounds. In addition, some state laws require employers to accommodate limitations arising from pregnancy.
For additional information regarding the PDA, visit: http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/fs-preg.html
For information about the relationship between the PDA and the ADA, visit: http://www.nwlc.org/our-issues/employment/pregnancy%2C-parenting%2C-and-the-workplace.
For a list of state agencies that provide information regarding state discrimination laws, visit: http://AskJAN.org/cgi-win/TypeQuery.exe?037
Accommodation ideas for individuals who are pregnant:
- Meeting the physical demands of the job: Individuals who are pregnant may have restrictions in lifting; walking; standing; sitting; and being exposed to excessive heat, chemicals, germs, and radiation. As a result, they may benefit from accommodations such as lifting aids; temporary reassignment of certain job duties; reserved parking close to the worksite; stand/lean stools; ergonomic chairs; reassignment to a less physically demanding job; and a workstation away from excessive heat, chemicals, germs, and radiation.
- Working a specific schedule: Individuals who are pregnant may have various symptoms, such as morning sickness, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and back pain, that interfere with their ability to work a specific schedule. As a result, they may benefit from accommodations such as a flexible arrival time; periodic rest; food, water, or bathroom breaks; an ergonomic workstation; work from home; transfer to a less physically demanding shift; limited overtime hours; and flexible use of leave, including time off to attend medical appointments.
- Other: Individuals who are pregnant may have other work-related accommodation needs such as modification of the employer's dress code, modification of “no food or drink” policies, a workstation that allows for elevation of the feet, and accommodations related to emergency evacuation.