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Pregnant employees in California are afforded rights in law

When you find out you’re expecting a baby, it should be the most exciting and happy time for you and your family. There are going to be lots of new experiences and wonderful moments to come.

Unfortunately, the reality for many is that with this excitement comes trepidation and worry over how it might impact their employment. Anticipating having to ask for time off or adjustments to your working arrangements may leave you concerned about how your employer will react. Thankfully, there are laws that protect you against pregnancy discrimination.

The law offers you protection from losing your job 

Employers are not allowed to discriminate against an employee on the grounds of pregnancy or childbirth. This also takes into account any related medical conditions. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act 1978 means that your employer cannot terminate your position, refuse to hire or promote you or deny you the time off you request because of your pregnancy.

Does an employer have any positive obligations during this time?

An employer must provide you with reasonable accommodations to your role that you need if, as a result of your pregnancy, you’re no longer able to carry out particular tasks. An example of this would be manual handling tasks. 

If you find yourself unwell during, and as a result of, your pregnancy, you are afforded rights under the Pregnancy Disability Act to take up to four months off as unpaid leave. 

After you’ve given birth, your employer is also obliged to provide you with regular breaks and a private space in order to express breast milk if this is a requirement you request.

Worrying about your job should be the last thing on your mind when expecting a baby. If you’ve advised your employer of your pregnancy and feel your reasonable needs have not been met, you may benefit from seeking legal assistance.