Employer

What to expect from your employer when you’re pregnant: Maternal health series offers new and expectant moms vital information


Now is the time to prioritize maternal health and protect the rights of working mothers. The health of our families, our communities and our economy depends on it.

Maternal mortality rates in the United States have increasedaccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with approximately 700 women die each year from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. Black, Native American and Alaska Native women are at particular risk, with a death rate two to three times that of white women. Yet research suggests that proper prenatal care and medical management of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure could prevent up to two-thirds of pregnancy-related deaths. CDC data also indicates that children’s health problems, such as obesity and asthma, decrease when they are breastfed.

More than 57% of all women in the United States are active in the nation’s labor force. It is imperative, for the health of pregnant and nursing workers and their children, that we guard against pregnancy-related discrimination in the workplace, that we guarantee protected leave from employment to give birth or to establish bonds with a new child, and that we ensure breastfeeding parents have the time and space at work to express breast milk.

Coinciding with National Breastfeeding Month, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and Women’s Bureau will host representatives from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to launch a series of awareness raising webinars and events ensure that workers, worker advocates, health care providers and employers understand the labor rights of new parents and expectant parents and the responsibilities of the employer.

The first event in the series is our Working moms: what to expect from your employer when you’re pregnant webinar on August 10, 1-2:30 p.m. ET. Register to attend.

In the webinar, we will present information on the employment rights of pregnant and nursing workers under the Family and Medical Leave Act, the nursing mothers’ break time provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. will deal with pregnancy-related discrimination; leave for care related to pregnancy, related to birth; and the rights of breastfeeding parents when they return to work.

During pregnancy

The Family and Medical Leave Act grants eligible pregnant workers the right to job-protected medical leave for prenatal care or when they are unable to work due to pregnancy. For adoptive or foster parents, the FMLA guarantees the right to take time off for necessary counseling, court appointments, and related travel prior to foster care or adoption.

Discrimination and harassment based on pregnancy in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, promotions, training and more, is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Time of birth and bonding

The FMLA also provides the right to unpaid, job-protected leave for the birth of a baby or the placement of a child with adoptive or foster parents. The right is granted not only for birth, but also for an extended period of bonding with the child during the first year of birth or placement.

Return to work and nursing

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires most employers to provide nurses with reasonable break times and a private space, other than a bathroom, to express and collect their breast milk.

It is important that workers and employers also understand that the law protects workers from discrimination or retaliation when they question the employer’s practices or assert their rights.

In the coming months, our series will also cover:

As we launch the series, we invite you to read the ministry’s two new fact sheets on workplace rights and maternal health:

During pregnancy

Family and Medical Leave Act is available during pregnancy to ensure that eligible pregnant workers are granted job-protected medical leave for prenatal care or when unable to work due to pregnancy. In the event of an adoption or placement, the FMLA also covers time spent prior to placement for necessary counseling, court appointments, or related travel.

Time of birth and bonding

The FMLA provides unpaid, job-protected time off for the baby’s birth or placement in adoption or foster care, as well as bonding time with the new parents afterwards. In the webinar series, we’ll discuss medical leave for the birth of a child, bonding time after birth or placement, and time off that can be taken while maintaining job-protected status. .

Return to work and nursing

In 2010, the Fair Labor Standards Act was amended to require most employers to provide nurses with reasonable break times and a private space, other than a bathroom, to express and collect their breast milk. We know that returning to work can be hard enough without breastfeeding parents worrying about how they will feed their babies at work and whether employers will accommodate their nursing needs. We’ve heard mothers’ stories and will be sharing more insights and experiences throughout this series.

To take part

Becoming a new parent is full of challenges and surprises, and new parents and expectant parents shouldn’t have to play the role of educator or enforcer for their employer on top of all their new responsibilities. Through this series, we will inform employers of their obligations under the law and the penalties for non-compliance. We will also show workers the information they need to resolve issues when an employer breaks the law or retaliates against them for asserting their rights.

Jessica Looman is the Senior Assistant Administrator for the Department of Labor’s Wages and Hours Division. Follow The Division on Twitter at @WHD_DOL.

Wendy Chun-Hoon is director of the Women’s Bureau of the Labor Department. Follow the Office on @WB_DOL.

Editor’s note: This blog post has been updated to clarify and source data on maternal mortality rates.