Pregnancy and Sick Leave

 

cynthea y kabeer jr

Much has been accomplished in the last twenty years in terms of ensuring that working women are able to maintain their employment during and after a pregnancy, but is it enough? A recent study found that roughly 75% of pregnant women take sick leave at some point during their pregnancy.

The average amount of sick leave taken over the course of a pregnancy is two months. As might be expected, the amount of sick time taken tends to increase as pregnancy progresses, with a significant percentage of the pregnancy-related sick leave taken in the third trimester and after the delivery.

Some common reasons for taking sick leave during pregnancy include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Pelvic pain
  • Sleep problems
  • Back pain
  • Depression
  • Pregnancy related health issues
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Doctor ordered rest for high blood pressure

This can cause problems for both employers and working women who are pregnant. Most employers offer a limited amount of paid sick time. While some employers offer programs which help replace part of your income if you need to take an extended leave of absence, others don’t. The loss of income comes at a time when pregnancy related expenses can have a real effect on your budget.

Some employers have begun to explore ways in which they can better accommodate pregnant employees. One of the most common accommodations companies make is to allow pregnant employees more leeway with their schedules. Not only does this allow women to make up for time lost to fleeting symptoms like morning sickness, but it also makes it easier for pregnant women to schedule doctor’s visits without taking time off work.

Some things which helped women to take fewer sick leave days during pregnancy included:

  • Exercising regularly, especially in the first trimester
  • Avoiding conflict at work
  • Getting adequate rest while not at work
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Taking prenatal vitamins as prescribed

It’s inevitable that you will need to take some time off work during and after your pregnancy. If your employer offers enough sick leave to cover your needs, that generally isn’t a problem. It’s important, though, to have a plan regarding what you’re going to do if you need to take more sick leave than your employer pays for.

How much sick leave have you taken over the course of your pregnancy? What can employers do to help ensure that pregnant employees’ needs are addressed and to reduce the amount of sick time needed?

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