Excelling while expecting

Congratulations, you are pregnant. The next several months are certain to include many changes as you prepare for the arrival of your child. Whether you have been pregnant before or are about to become a mom for the first time, each experience is unique. While dealing with the unexpected is part of being pregnant, pregnant women should expect their employers to treat them fairly as they continue to work.The first thing pregnant working women should know is that, under the tCanadian Human Rights Act, they have the right to work while pregnant.In spite of the law, some employers may be less receptive to their female employees’ pregnancies, with some insisting they harbour good intentions, such as the woman’s safety. Businesses cannot fire employees for being pregnant and many courts have ruled that decisions about the safety of the woman and fetus are up to the employee and her doctor, not her boss. By the same token, a company cannot refuse to hire a person simply because she is pregnant.While pregnancy is a natural occurrence and one female bodies can accommodate, in some instances work requirements may threaten the safety or the health of the fetus. Therefore, employers are under a duty to accommodate female workers who may need to modify their duties due to their pregnancies. This can be a collaborative discussion, with both the employer and employee coming to a solution that works best for them. It is the employer’s responsibility to accommodate pregnant employees by removing barriers that may limit those employees’ ability to do their jobs. Each instance should be looked at individually.Women should put their health and the safety of their unborn children ahead of their responsibilities at work. In addition, women should not hesitate to speak with their employers about their comfort levels while pregnant. If an issue arises, speak with your boss, who deserves the benefit of the doubt.In some instances, breastfeeding also is protected by law at job sites or at the office. It is best for women to familiarize themselves with breastfeeding policies ahead of time so they can make the proper accommodations.Pregnant women should discuss with their doctors which work activities are permissible and which should be avoided at particular times in the pregnancy. Every effort should be made to avoid toxic substances, and pregnant women should not lift heavy items or engage in any potentially risky physical activity. For more information about workplace rights, visit the Canadian Human Rights Commission at www.chrc-ccdp.ca.

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