3 workplace accommodations pregnant workers can expect in California

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2024 | Pregnancy Discrimination |

Congratulations! You’re pregnant. While you may be excited, navigating work during this time can be challenging, depending on your circumstances.

Thankfully, California offers strong protections for expecting and working people. If you’re a pregnant working professional, you can benefit from familiarizing yourself with the key workplace accommodations you can expect in the Golden State.

Reasonable modifications to job duties and schedule

Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employers must provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related limitations. This might involve:

  • More frequent breaks: Frequent bathroom breaks, time for stretching or breaks to address fatigue are common requests.
  • Modified lifting restrictions: If your doctor advises against heavy lifting, your employer should explore alternatives, like reassignment of tasks or temporary help.
  • Adjusted schedule: Shift changes, a temporary switch to part-time work or a more predictable schedule can be crucial for doctor appointments and managing morning sickness.

The key here is “reasonable.” Discuss your needs with your doctor and employer to find solutions that work for both parties. Documenting your doctor’s recommendations can strengthen your request.

Leave for prenatal appointments and pregnancy-related conditions

The Golden State protects your right to take time off for prenatal doctor visits and pregnancy-related illnesses. If you’re unable to work due to pregnancy-related illness, you qualify for pregnancy disability leave (PDL).

Additionally, you should know that the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for various reasons, including prenatal appointments and pregnancy-related medical care. CFRA leave can be used concurrently with PDL, potentially extending your leave.

Break time and lactation facilities

The state’s law mandates that employers provide reasonable break time for nursing workers to express breast milk. This includes a private, non-bathroom space equipped with a comfortable chair. Ideally, it should have access to electricity for pumping equipment.

Additionally, working mothers can expect break time in addition to regular breaks. The time to pump should not come out of your regular breaks or lunch periods. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) also requires employers to provide this accommodation, though the state’s law offers more specific protections.

Pregnancy is a time of immense change. California’s strong workplace protections allow you to focus on your health and your growing family with peace of mind. Consulting with a reliable legal team about your rights and initiating conversations with your employer can help ensure a smooth and supported journey through pregnancy and into parenthood.