Your Workplace Rights

The first step toward fairness: know your rights. Here's a handy guide to the laws concerning working while pregnant, maternity and paternity leave, and more.

Workplace Rights During Pregnancy

Whether you're a working parent or a working parent-to-be, you deserve to be treated fairly by your employer. As a start, print out this guide to your legal rights and keep it for easy reference.

1. Your pregnancy must be treated like any other employee disability or medical condition.

If you work for a company with 15 or more employees, it is illegal for your employer to discriminate against you because of pregnancy, childbirth, or pregnancy-related conditions. Pregnancy must be treated as a temporary medical disability. You may also be protected by state and local laws regarding pregnancy discrimination.

2. You can't be fired because you're pregnant or may become pregnant.

An employer can't fire, deny a job, or deny a promotion to a woman because of her pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions as long as she can perform the major functions of her job. Note: An employer is not legally required to make it easier for a pregnant woman to do her job.

3. You can't be forced to take leave as long as you can do your job.

Pregnant employees cannot be forced to take leave while they are pregnant as long as they can perform their assigned work tasks. If an employee is absent from work due to a pregnancy-related condition and she recovers, the employer can't force her to remain on leave until the baby's birth.

4. You're entitled to the same benefits received by other employees with medical conditions.

You must be offered the same level of medical benefits, leave, and temporary disability insurance that are provided to employees who have other medical conditions or disabilities.

5. You can take part of your maternity leave before your baby is born.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, you can part of your unpaid maternity leave while still pregnant if you are physically unable to work due to pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions. Your job will be protected for a total of 12 weeks, including time before and after birth. Note: The FMLA applies if:

  • You are an employee of a company with 50 or more employees.
    or
  • Work for a local, state, or federal government.

    and

  • Have worked for your employer for one year and at least 1,250 hours during the previous year.

6. You are entitled to insurance coverage for your wife's pregnancy-related conditions if your company's health plan includes spousal coverage.

Employers cannot deny coverage for the pregnancy care of a male employee's spouse, provided that spouses of female employees are usually covered by comprehensive health insurance.

7. You cannot be denied the standard benefits if you are a single mother-to-be.

Pregnancy-related benefits cannot be limited to married employees.

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