Pregnancy Archives

Pregnant? When, How, and What to Tell Your Boss

Published on September 7th, 2016 by Alan L. Sklover

“ It’s a great thing about being pregnant –
You don’t need excuses to pee or to eat.”

– Angelina Jolie

ACTUAL CASE HISTORY: I must admit – being a man – that I have no direct “personal” experience with pregnancy. However, I do have many female clients, in fact, a majority of my clients are female, and I think I’ve learned more than a thing or two from them on this subject. And, too, I am an employer, and have been told by more than one female employee that she is pregnant. So, I think I see things from “both sides” at least a bit.

I know from many of my clients’ case histories that notifying their employer of a newly confirmed pregnancy, and then “navigating” the process of the many details of “pre-leave,” “leave,” and “post-leave,” were harrowing. Many of them have asked, “Do you have a checklist of some kind that I can use?”

And many of them have shared a sense that, if they don’t do this carefully – very carefully – their jobs and careers could suffer.

LESSON TO LEARN: Pregnancy is a time of transition. There are bodily changes, emotional changes, changes in family dynamics, and others, too. It is not surprising that pregnancy brings about certain workplace changes, as well.

Preparing for the workplace changes cannot be accomplished entirely on one’s own. Your colleagues, managers, clients and assistants may all have to make adjustments to accommodate the changes going on in your life, and common sense dictates that you and they cannot make necessary adjustments until you’ve given them notice of your pregnancy.

So, when should you give notice of your pregnancy? How should you do so? What should you say? There are no hard-and-fast rules. That said, here are the guidelines we have put together from the experiences of our clients, from hints and ideas found on the internet, and from my own experience as an employer receiving notice of pregnancy from my own employees and partners.

They are set forth here, so that you can consider inserting them into your notice of pregnancy, and also as checklist of items to attend to. You have enough on your mind, already.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: We have assembled the suggestions we received from our clients and others about when, how and what to do when giving notice of your pregnancy. You can also use these suggestions as a kind of checklist for your Maternity Leave planning.

One important thing to bear in mind: “No one size fits all.” By that I mean that each of us has different views, sensibilities, circumstances and concerns. Perhaps in no context is that more relevant than it is in matters of pregnancy and maternity. So, pick and choose which, if any, of the following suggestions may apply to you, and which may not, and insert those that do make sense into your notice of pregnancy:
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“While on Maternity Leave, can I attend a trade conference?”

Published on June 21st, 2016 by Alan L. Sklover

Question: My baby was born a month ago, and everything is going well. I am scheduled to return to work in 30 days.

In two weeks, there is an annual trade conference that I have attended in past years that I would like to attend again this year, both to represent my employer and to network for myself. It would be a two-day trip. My pediatrician thinks it would be good for the baby, because I will be going back to work, and this may be a good “trial run” for her. Am I permitted to do that?

Carleen
Brewster, New York

Answer: Dear Carleen: First, congratulations on your new “little one.” Everyone who knows me knows that I believe kids are the best part of life . . . “usually.” Your question really made me think, and also required that I do some legal research. This is what I have concluded:
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“Pregnancy: Rights under Disability, FMLA and Discrimination laws.”

Published on October 13th, 2015 by Alan L. Sklover

Question: I am pregnant and my doctor wants me to work just 25 hours a week, but my employer told me that they need someone who can work 40 hours a week. So, they gave me separation papers to sign.

Is that legal? Do they have to hire me back after I have my baby?

Larisa
Palmyra, Maine

Answer: Dear Larisa: Pregnancy and pregnant women are given a special status in our society and our laws, and both are highly protected. In so many cases, like yours, however, that protection is surely needed, because so many employers view pregnancy as an inconvenience for them.

You may want to try to keep your job, or enhance your severance, by asserting your rights before signing the separation papers. Here are my thoughts:
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“Breast-Milk Work-Breaks – It’s Now the Law”

Published on April 16th, 2014 by Alan L Sklover

A Little Known Federal Right for Nursing Mothers

“There are three reasons for breast-feeding:
the milk is always at the right temperature;
it comes in attractive containers;
and the cat can’t get it.”

– Irena Chalmers

THE LAW: Although unknown to many people, the Patient Protections and Affordable Care Act of 2010, known as the “Affordable Care Act” or “ObamaCare,” amended the federal law of workplace rights to require employers to provide to almost all female employees reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time the employee has a need to express milk. 

Employers are also required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public which may be used by the employee to express milk. 

The law was enacted as an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA” for short) the federal law that requires overtime pay for employees who work more than 40 hours in a work week. Employees tend to think that anyone who gets a weekly salary is not entitled to overtime pay; that is very much wrong. It has been estimated that 80% to 85% of all employees in the U.S. are entitled to overtime pay, although many of them are not aware of their right to overtime. (To review our newsletter entitled “80% of Americans are Entitled to Overtime Pay; Are You?” that explains who is entitled to overtime pay, and who is not, simply [click here].)  If those estimates are correct, then this new law regarding breast milk work breaks should, in turn, apply to 80%-85% of working women who are breast feeding or plan to breast feed.  

LESSON TO LEARN: Many people believe that breastfeeding is a very natural, positive and beneficial thing for a new mother to provide her newborn. For those moms who work outside the home, however, expressing breast milk for later use is the next best alternative.

In recognition of and in response to the desire of so many working women to provide breast milk to their babies, the U.S. Congress incorporated into the Affordable Care Act a federal legal right to (a) daily breaks to express milk, and (b) suitably clean and private places to do so, other than a bathroom. 

For you and for the women in your life, it may be a good idea to become familiar with the law.  

THIRTEEN FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (“FAQ’s”): Read the rest of this blog post »

“Toxic smell in the office: what can I do?”

Published on April 17th, 2012 by Alan L Sklover

Question: My question relates to a drain located in the small office where I work. There is a drain of some sort in the back room that emanates the smell of sewer gas. My nose burns by the end of the day, and my eyes get very irritated. I have complained about the smell twice and everyone in the office – the two owners, their wives and another employee – ignore the smell and accept it.

This is my fourth week on the job, and it is a small office. What steps can I take to have this problem rectified? Am I in a position to tell them that I will only work from home until the drain is fixed? Can I pursue legal action if they fire me? It is a very small company, and I would hate to pursue legal action, but I am trying to conceive, I have chronic sinusitis, and this can’t continue. My lungs feel heavy, too.

Thanks, in advance, for your help.  

Jeanna
Chicago, Illinois

Answer: Dear Jeanna: I’m sorry to hear of your predicament. There should be things you can do. Here are my thoughts:    

1. While health must always be your first priority, I acknowledge that income can be a matter of “survival,” as well. Surely you will understand that health must be your first focus, because without your health, you don’t have much. This is perhaps doubly so when you are trying to conceive, for what happens in the earliest times of pregnancy can affect your child’s health, as well. If at all possible, we all need to try to keep that in mind.

2. When matters of workplace health and safety arise, we first consider state and federal workplace health and safety agencies. This is one of those areas of law that I always consider referring people to the  applicable state and federal agencies, for several reasons, chief among them: (a) They are experts in what to do to address issues that might affect workplace health; (b) their staffs are usually quite knowledgeable about both health issues and what employees can do under applicable law; (c) they are scientifically equipped to determine if the gas is truly harmful, or dangerous, which it may just be; and (d) I have found the staff members of these agencies to be unusually concerned and caring people; after all, concerns about employee health are what motivated them in the first place to take the kind of jobs they’ve taken.

For you, I have located Edna Lubuguin, who is the Indoor Air Quality Specialist for the Chicago office of the Illinois Department of Labor. She can be reached at (312) 793-1825 or by emailing her at edna.lubuguin@Illinois.gov. I suggest you review www.state.il.us.

I’ve also located the Region 5 (Chicago) office of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Agency (“OSHA”). They can be reached at (312) 353-2220, or through www.osha.gov.  

3. Unless the Illinois Department of Labor suggests otherwise, I suggest you call in sick, and email your employer a pleasant and respectful note outlining what you’ve told me, and asking if you can work from home in the meantime. The idea behind this suggestion is that it is very important for you to make a “record” of (a) the problem; (b) your respectful request that it be addressed; (c) your respectful request that you be permitted to work from home for health reasons; and (d) that your absence from the office is not without good reason.

If you are comfortable doing so, you might mention your chronic sinusitis may be a kind of “disability,” and for this you may need an “accommodation” by being permitted to work from home. May I suggest that it might not be a wise idea to mention that you are trying to conceive at this time.

This will help you whether (i) you need to apply for unemployment, (ii) you discover you have legal rights for any firing, and (iii) if your health suffers, and you cannot work, your probable right to Workers’ Compensation and/or Short Term Disability benefits.

You may be especially glad you did this if health concerns related to this gas arise some time in the future, long after you are not working there anymore.

4. If you don’t get this resolved quickly, I suggest you consider an “Involuntary Resignation.” As you may know, I have sort of “invented” a new concept called “involuntary resignation.” This means that you are leaving, not voluntarily, but “involuntarily.” By making a written email record that this is an “involuntary” resignation, this can preserve your right to sue, to get severance, and to any legal rights that may arise – now or in the future.

For great info and insight, consider viewing our 12-minute Sklover-On-Demand Video entitled “Involuntary Resignation.” To do so, just [click here.]    

If you would like to obtain a Model Letter that you can adapt and use to “Involuntarily Resign,” just [click here.]   

5. Especially because health issues are involved, I might also suggest a consultation with a Chicago-area employee-rights attorney. I strongly encourage employees to do all they can on their own before considering consulting with an attorney. However, because matters of health – and possibly the health of a newborn, someday – might be involved, I do encourage you to seek at least an initial consultation with local employment counsel.

If you would like to obtain a list of experienced “employee-side” employment attorneys in Chicago, simply [click here.]

Jeanna, you are in a difficult spot. I hope this has been helpful, and that your health concerns are soon resolved. I wish you, too, the best of luck in every other area of your life, as well. 

My Best,
Al Sklover

P.S.: Want a Blog of Your Own? Develop an “Internet Presence” of your own. It’s a fun, challenging, and rewarding thing to do. And it might even help you get a new or better job. We can help you. Just [click here.]

 Repairing the World –
One Empowered and Productive Employee at a Time ™ 
 

© 2012 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.


Alan L. Sklover

Alan L. Sklover

Employment Attorney
and Career Strategist
for over 35 years

Job Security and Career Success now depend on knowing how to navigate and negotiate to gain the most for your skills, time and efforts. Learn the trade secrets and 'uncommon common sense' of Attorney Alan L. Sklover, the leading authority on "Negotiating for Yourself at Work™".

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