What will happen with this job?
August 13, 2009 7:19 AM   Subscribe

So, I'm hoping to get pregnant soon. Later on, how will this affect my somewhat physically strenuous job?

One of my two current jobs is part-time, NO benefits, 10 hours a week. It's a pretty physical job -- standing for 95% of my shift, bending, pushing things, crouching, etc. Late in my pregnancy when it becomes difficult or impossible to do these things, could I be fired? Do I have to quit? Would I allowed to ask for non-physical tasks that are outside my normal job description, to do instead? (I want to work at this job as late in my pregnancy as I can, but don't plan to keep the job after I have the baby.)
posted by trillian to Work & Money (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Where do you live?
posted by alms at 7:22 AM on August 13, 2009

Response by poster: Ooh, sorry -- New York state.
posted by trillian at 7:24 AM on August 13, 2009

You really won't know until you are pregnant. I'm pretty active and stayed that way through my whole pregnancy, but, many people I know just didn't have the strength/energy/balance when they were pregnant. Every body reacts differently.
posted by a22lamia at 7:43 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

On of the very first symptoms my wife experienced with her pregnancies was loss of strength. It lasted for about the first trimester.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 7:58 AM on August 13, 2009

IANAL, and IANAD. (Didn't think I'd ever disclaim both in one post. :) )

As a matter of NY State labor law, they can't fire you for being pregnant. That said, I'm not sure what they'll be able to do about the situation legally, and they probably don't know, either.

You should read up on what your options are under FMLA, and you should probably also have a talk with your boss, as a hypothetical matter. ("I was just wondering, what would happen for someone in my position if she became pregnant, and couldn't keep doing all the lifting?")

As a health matter, I strongly recommend against doing any lifting at all once you know you're pregnant. It only takes one bad lift to lose a baby, even in the first trimester.
posted by Citrus at 8:32 AM on August 13, 2009

You have legal protections in the US through the Family Medical Leave Act. When your job becomes too strenuous, as determined by you and your doctor, you will be put on either partial or full disability by your doctor. If partial, your employer will either have to accommodate your limitations or, if they are unable to do so, you will be put on full disability. If on full disability, you will sit at home and watch your ankles swell while waiting for Junior to arrive. The local Employment Development Dept. has more information. Contact them.
posted by eleslie at 8:33 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

It may be possible for you to be reassigned to other less strenuous duties when you become close to full term. I met a restaurant hostess who was allowed to sit on a high bar chair to welcome guests so that she didn't need to be on her feet.

One other thing--for me, the first trimester was much more physically stressful (feeling like I'm going to faint, needing a seat, feeling weak) than the last trimester, when my hormones were more stable, even though I was carrying an extra 35 lbs.

Good luck!
posted by tk at 9:11 AM on August 13, 2009

My wife worked as a labor nurse until she was 39 weeks pregnant. For 37 of those weeks, she did her job as normal... standing most of the time, helping move other pregnant people around, holding legs back. 12 hour shifts, overnight. Pretty physical/exhausting stuff. One of her coworkers recently did the same.

Nobody will be able to give you a good answer on this. It REALLY depends on the person and the pregnancy. But you should probably plan on having to take it easy throughout and possibly taking your maternity leave earlier than expected... just in case.
posted by csimpkins at 10:29 AM on August 13, 2009

These are all quotes. These websites (links are in the first word of each quote) are good sources of information:

Question: I just found out that I am pregnant. Can my employer fire me or reassign me?

Answer: No. Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 an employer with 15 or more employees can not fire you because you are pregnant, and must permit you to continue working as long as you are able. Some states have laws that cover employers with less than 15 employees. If you work for an employer with less than l5 employees, check with your regional Women's Bureau Office to see if your state has an agency that can assist you.

An employer may not single out pregnancy-related conditions for special procedures to determine an employee's ability to work. However, if an employer requires its employees to submit a doctor's statement concerning their inability to work before granting leave or paying sick benefits, the employer may require employees affected by pregnancy-related conditions to submit such statements.

If an employee is temporarily unable to perform her job due to 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 due to pregnancy to do the same.

Pregnant employees must be permitted to work as long as they are able to perform their jobs. If an employee has been absent from work as a result of a pregnancy-related condition and recovers, her employer may not require her to remain on leave until the baby's birth. An employer also may not have a rule that prohibits an employee from returning to work for a predetermined length of time after childbirth.

Employers must hold open a job for a pregnancy-related absence the same length of time jobs are held open for employees on sick or disability leave.
posted by ND¢ at 12:02 PM on August 13, 2009

Best answer: Please don't listen to the folks who claim you are protected under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). They are wrong - at least as far as your part-time, 10 hour/week job goes.

There are numerous eligibility requirements both you and your employer must meet in order for you to be protected by FMLA. One of these is that you must have worked at least 1,250 hours for your employer in the 12 month period immediately preceding your leave. 10 hours a week * 52 weeks in a year = 520, far less than 1250. Unless you only recently moved to a 10 hour/week schedule, and prior to that worked far more hours, there is no way you will meet this requirement and thus no way you will be protected under the FMLA at this job.

You did mention you have two jobs - how many hours a week do you work at that job (is it equivalent to 1250/year, more importantly)? Have you worked there at least 12 months? If so, you may be eligible for FMLA (there are other eligibility requirements, but this is a start).

If you're not protected by FMLA at either job, then it's possible you may lose one or both of your jobs. Your employer has to treat you the same as it would treat anyone else who's missing work due to a health condition. So, let's say you broke your leg and couldn't stand all day, then had to miss 6 weeks for surgery. Would you be let go? If so, then it's possible you'll be let go due to the pregnancy. I'm sorry to be the bearer of nothing but extremely bad news - I wish we didn't live in one of the very few first-world countries that doesn't have mandated paid family leave, but we do.

On a side note, though, NY does have a state disability program that many people are eligible for after they've been off of work for 7 days - you might want to ask your HR rep/office manager/supervisor about this. All our employees have to do to file a claim is make a phone call.
posted by pecanpies at 3:31 PM on August 13, 2009

Also - you can request that you been given less strenuous tasks, but your employer is not forced to accommodate this request unless they have a policy of doing so. Again, imagine if you'd broken your leg (or arm, or got pneumonia, or what have you) rather than gotten pregnant. Would they let you adjust your schedule or change your duties? If so, then they should do the same for you when/if you are pregnant.

(And, apologies if I'm coming off as harsh or unsympathetic - I'm certainly not trying to be. It's a product of being jaded & bitter at the current state of our country's problematic leave and healthcare systems.)
posted by pecanpies at 3:37 PM on August 13, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks to all for the answers. My other job is 20 hours/week, also no benefits, and I've worked there for 1 year with the same hours. I really want to come back to that one after I have the baby, so I hope I can.
posted by trillian at 11:04 AM on August 16, 2009

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