If, like me, you're committed to working throughout your pregnancy—and returning to work after babies—you're going to want to read this.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has made updates to its rules on discrimination and pregnancy for the first time in more than three decades.
It's against the law to discriminate against employees who are pregnant (or were in the past, or might be in the future), and the commission made clear that adjustments may need to be made for pregnant workers—including providing the option of light duty—and clearly forbids employers from forcing a pregnant employee to take a leave of absence when she is able to carry on working.
And the new, tougher rules on pregnancy aren't the only good news in the update: breastfeeding and parental leave are also addressed. The commission makes clear a policy regarding breastfeeding, characterizing lactation as a medical issue subject to legal protections. That means lactating moms must be provided a private location as well as the scheduling opportunity to pump milk.
Furthermore, employers who provide parental leave (separate from medical leave related to the actual childbearing or childbirth recovery) must do so equally for men and women.
It goes without saying that any improvements in support for pregnant women in the U.S. are good for working families overall.
Living in the only industrialized country in the world without any paid leave for parents of newborns (let that sink in), I'm happy and relieved whenever I see good news that suggests movement in the right direction here in America (and I can better manage my jealousy of my Australian friend currently on a year of paid maternity leave through various benefit channels)!
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