Pregnancy Leave and Parental Leave

by Anne Zachritz 

Employers must be careful to distinguish between leave related to any physical limitations imposed by pregnancy or childbirth and leave for purposes of bonding with a child and providing care for a child. Leave related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions may be limited to women affected by those conditions.  However, parental leave must be provided to similarly situated men and women on the same terms.

To reduce the risk of liability, employers should develop and enforce a written policy based on the requirements of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the American with Disabilities Act.  The policy should advise employees of the conduct that could constitute unlawful discrimination and provide employees with a complaint procedure with more than one option to state a complaint (including a supervisory bypass).  Restrictive leave policies should be evaluated to determine whether the policy disproportionately affects pregnant workers and, if so, whether it is necessary for business operations.  Employers should also regularly review their employment policies and practices to correct those which may disadvantage women affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.

Upon receipt of a complaint relating to alleged pregnancy discrimination, employers should promptly respond to and investigate the complaint efficiently and effectively and take corrective action if necessary. If applicants or employees report discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, they should be assured that they will be protected from retaliation.

Employers should discuss with employees who plan to take pregnancy or parental leave to determine how their job responsibilities will be handled in their absence.  If an accommodation requested by an employee cannot be provided, employers should explain why and discuss the possibility of providing alternatives.

For more information regarding pregnancy and parental leave, contact Anne Zachritz at 272-9241 or Read more about her here.

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