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ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

What happens if I'm unable to continue my current job due to pregnancy?

Asked by ItalianPrincess1217 (11973points) February 19th, 2011 from iPhone

I’m a floor manager in a department store. I am required to do a lot of heavy lifting, moving fixtures, wooden tables, boxes, etc. I already had a horrible scare a couple weeks ago. I had very heavy bleeding and was placed on a week of bedrest. They think it was caused from work. I’m currently about 10 weeks pregnant and I’m concerned that once I get bigger, my job will be much harder to do. I stand for 9 hour shifts, walk back and forth from one end of a large department store to the other. I’m lifting, pushing, pulling, bending…I’m already completely exhausted and weak at the end of my work day. What happens when I’m further along? Am I going to be pulled out of work? Will I lose my job? Will I have to get on disability? I had considered getting a desk job instead but I discovered that’s almost impossible at this point. I wouldn’t get maternity leave at a new job if I haven’t been employed with them for 12 months or more.

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15 Answers

m0r60n's avatar

I’m pretty sure that you would have to have time off from your job when you’re pregnant. You shouldn’t be heavy lifting at all if you’re pregnant. If you won’t get maternity leave unless you work for at least 12 months, then you might lose your job. But it’s all worth it when you give birth :)

geeky_mama's avatar

I had a friend in a similar position (working in retail, on the floor, 9 hour shifts) and her doctor placed her on bedrest during her first pregnancy when she had pre-term labor.
Irregardless of how tired you are or how hard it is on you (unfortunately) doctors will not put you on bedrest/medical leave unless they are concerned about the baby’s health. (Though, at the end of one particularly rough pregnancy when I had a physical condition which made it essentially impossible for me to walk I did have a doctor who wanted to provide me a short term Disabled Parking permit so that I wasn’t trying to walk from my parking garage to my office. And that was about my health instead of the baby’s…)
If the doctor is concerned about pre-term labor then you could be placed on bedrest. Then you have to file with your employer for short term (or longer term) disability medical leave until you reach “viable” which is 36 weeks.

Your employer’s requirements may vary according to the State that you’re in – but the FMLA (which is Federal) act gives you 12 weeks.
If your leave (remaining time until you’re 36 weeks) will be longer than 12 weeks your employer may not have to guarantee your job will be there for you at the end of your leave – but you’re protected for some time.

I had another friend (in an office job) who was fired while pregnant – and because most States are “at-will” hiring States she wasn’t able to do anything about it. Had nothing to do with her performance or ability to do the job..they just worried she wouldn’t come back after delivery and pro-actively fired her.

Yet another good friend was a hair stylist who worked 4 days, 10 hours standing each day. She worked her whole pregnancy standing for those long hours and didn’t have a problem… but I know she had a lot of swelling (esp. her 3rd trimester) and was pretty tired at the end of her days.

So—it’s partially out of your hands. It depends on whether you experience pre-term labor or not. Then it depends on your employer and your medical leave policies.

If it helps at all..remember that the 1st term is when most women feel the most tired. Once you get into the 2nd term (think..16 weeks onwards) most women get more energy. It may feel impossible now..but you might find yourself with more energy and ability to make it..at least closer to your 3rd term. And perhaps you employer would be willing to let you forgo lifting and pushing heavy things for the benefit of having you around longer.. Might be worth a talk with your supervisor…

Good luck..and best of health to you and your baby.

p.s. Last but not least – both my SIL and I had jobs that required a lot of standing. She’s a High School chemistry teacher, I travel/present—think of OJ running through the airport..that was me, but waddling as fast as I could manage!!
We both had hyperemesis gravidum (think: non-stop puking, losing over 20% of your body weight) ...we both made it through..the standing and the puking..and neither of us ended up having to go out on leave.

Looking back I wonder how I did it..but I did. And it was worth it (because I needed the medical benefits!). We each had 3 pregnancies and my SIL had HG for all 3! I think she deserves a medal! Maybe you’ll find some unexpected strength to make it through, too.. but not at the expense of the baby’s health. I hope you know what the signs/symptoms of pre-term labor are and are watchful.

Cupcake's avatar

I wonder what your employer’s reaction would be to you bringing in restrictions from your physician. Wouldn’t they be required to follow them?

I don’t think any OB would flinch at writing no-lifting restrictions for a pregnant woman.

BarnacleBill's avatar

You should inquire about moving to a different position inside the same company, or if you can assign some of the heavier work to other associates.

klutzaroo's avatar

They won’t be able to do anything about the standing and walking, but you should be able to opt out of moving fixtures and tables. The store has had pregnant managers and associates before, they’ll have some after, accommodating your pregnancy is nothing new for the company. If nothing else, you should be able to direct associates in moving fixtures and things like that rather than doing it yourself, this should be a change that takes place immediately.

There are company policies in place for pregnant employees and the things they cannot be expected to do. Contact HR if you need to about what the policies are and if the store manager doesn’t know or is asking more of you than you think is appropriate. There are plenty of people who do jobs just like yours in regards to everything but the heavy lifting while they’re pregnant and they manage it (other retail, nurses, food service). You’ll be fine just as soon as you get the management (corporate) support you need and make up your mind that you will be.

YARNLADY's avatar

It depends on the state you live in. In California they have family leave for the Mom and for the Dad.

BarnacleBill's avatar

@YARNLADY, unfortunately family leave is not paid; it just means they can’t fire you because you need to take time off to tend to a parent or child.

Edit: I stand corrected. California does guarantee 6 weeks leave with partial salary.

There is a Pregnancy Discrimination Law that is part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Judi's avatar

Some larger employers will give you a modified workload if your doctor says something like “No lifting more than 15 lbs.” or you might just go on disability.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

If you live in Canada, your income with continue and your position will be protected. You may even be able to obtain subsidized child care when you return to work.

klutzaroo's avatar

She lives and works in New York. Not Canada or California. New York.

RareDenver's avatar

Your employer is obliged to give you work suitable for someone who is pregnant and to not put you or your child at harm. And congratulations!

BarnacleBill's avatar

The Pregnancy Discrimination Law is a federal law, like the rest of the civil rights act, and therefore applies to NY. States cannot opt-out.

klutzaroo's avatar

@BarnacleBill But the individual states (and countries) protections and laws do not apply out of those states (and countries).

BarnacleBill's avatar

True. California law does not apply in NY. But Article VII of he 1964 Federal Civil Rights Act applies in all 50 states.

If an employee is temporarily unable to perform her job because of her pregnancy, the employer must treat her the same as any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, if the employer allows temporarily disabled employees to modify tasks, perform alternative assignments, or take disability leave or leave without pay, the employer also must allow an employee who is temporarily disabled because of pregnancy to do the same.

This would be construed to mean that absence or realignment of work duties because of a pregnancy is treated same as any other temporary medical condition. What would happen if @ItalianPrincess1217 was in a car accident and broke her leg is the same thing that should happen because of the conditions related to a pregnancy. The real answer to the question lies in the company policy; federal law prohibits treating pregnancy differently.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Congratulations of course and I hope you are able to resolve your financial concerns.

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