ACOG Committee Opinion No. 733: Employment Considerations During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period

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Abstract

In the United States, it is common for women, including mothers and pregnant women, to work outside the home. Working during pregnancy is generally safe. For those in high-risk occupations or with medically complicated pregnancies, work accommodations often can allow for continued safe employment. The major employment issues concerning pregnant women include pregnancy-related discrimination, work accommodations that allow continued employment, job-protected leave, and wage replacement while on leave. Workplace discrimination related to being pregnant and pregnancy-related harassment, including discrimination in the hiring process, is prohibited by federal and state law. There is no federal law guaranteeing comprehensive accommodations for pregnant and postpartum workers. Current federal and state laws provide protection for some pregnant women, but not others, because of eligibility requirements and state-by-state differences. By writing appropriate notes to employers, obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers can be instrumental in obtaining accommodations for their patients who are able to continue working. Accommodations that allow a woman to keep working are the most reliable way to guarantee pay, benefits, and job protection. Obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers also can assist pregnant women and their partners by providing them with information and resources that might help them better understand their employment rights. However, in cases for which potential job discrimination has occurred, accommodations are denied, extended medical leave is necessary, or when other complex employment questions arise, legal assistance should be obtained.

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