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Meeting the Needs of Employees During and After Pregnancy

If it feels like the stork is paying more and more visits to women in your workplace, you might be on to something. Research from the Pew Research Center indicates that a higher share of women who are pregnant are continuing to work. They're also working longer into their pregnancies and returning to work much sooner after.

While pregnancy can be a joyous and exciting time, it can also present challenges at work for women who may experience limitations or complications. As a result, women who continue working during pregnancy may require job accommodations during and/or after giving birth.

Now, navigating these issues and solving pregnancy-related accommodation needs is a little bit easier, thanks to a free resource from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), titled Accommodation Ideas for Employees Who Are Pregnant. This guide addresses employer responsibilities under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and provides an overview of accommodations that might be useful for employees who are pregnant or nursing, addressing everything from flexible schedules to restroom access.

In the publication, JAN points out that pregnancy alone is not a disability under the ADA, however many pregnancy-related conditions are disabilities that an employer may have to accommodate. Furthermore, pregnancy affects women in different ways. Some experience no, or very little, impact on their ability to work, while others may experience issues such as fatigue, sickness, pain, restrictions in lifting, or the need to eat and drink frequently. Pregnancy and childbirth can also exacerbate existing medical impairments.

Whatever the case, being prepared for these temporary workplace needs, and expressing your company's commitment to meeting them, are fundamental in fostering an inclusive workplace — one where all employees feel comfortable requesting the supports they need to perform their jobs and deliver for their employers (before delivering for real).

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