Being Employed and Pregnant or a Parent Should Not Be a Problem
As we all know, traditional gender roles are a thing of the past, and the days in which men went to work and women stayed at home to cook, clean and look after the children are long gone. For decades now it has been widely accepted that both adults in a family unit act as breadwinners, parents and homemakers. Although discrimination against pregnant women is still a widespread problem, many countries have put laws in place to battle the issue.
Working Pregnant Women Are Legally Looked After in the United States
In the US it has been illegal to discriminate against pregnant women in their place of work since 1978. This is when the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed. Furthermore, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was passed in 2012. This act makes supplementary provisions for pregnant and lactating women. An example of this special care is that lactating women are now entitled to a safe space and reasonable breaks at work, in which to pump breast milk for up to a year after their child’s birth. Federal law also states that provisions should be made for women suffering from pregnancy-related impairments or complications in the same manner that other workers are accommodated.
The United Kingdom Is All About Keeping Pregnant Women Safe in the Workplace
In the UK, Health and Safety Executives take care of the physical and emotional welfare of pregnant women at work. Since October 2010, the Sex Discrimination Act has made bias based on pregnancy or maternity leave illegal. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 protects the rights of pregnant women to maternity leave and The Management of Health and Safety at Work regulations of 1999 take care of keeping pregnant women safe at work. Medical care is provided by the National Health Service, offering free prescriptions and dental care for pregnant women and women who have given birth in the last 12 months.
Know Your Rights
Unfortunately, what sounds great on paper does not always reflect how things are done in reality, and discrimination against pregnant women, parents of young children and women who may fall pregnant is still a very real problem. To deal with it, it is important to know your basic rights:
• You cannot be fired because you are pregnant
• You cannot not be hired because you are pregnant or may become pregnant
• You cannot be forced to take leave while you are still able to do your job
• You are entitled to start maternity leave before the baby is born
• Your pregnancy has to be treated like any other temporary medical condition
Additionally, in the UK You Have Further Rights
• You are entitled to paid time off for antenatal care
• You are entitled to statutory maternity pay
There are organizations in every country that deal with the violation of rights, many a phone call or a click away. Do not hesitate to speak out if your life and the lives of your loved ones are being affected by discrimination.