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Parental Support: Tips for Pregnant Employees

Updated: Jul 4

A white pregnant woman with blond hair eating an apple while sitting at a desk.

Pregnancy is a normal part of life for many employees. As an employer, it is important to create an inclusive environment that supports all employees, including those who are pregnant or taking parental leave.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act forbids discrimination based on pregnancy regarding any aspect of employment. Despite being illegal, pregnancy discrimination still occurs. With a large percentage of the workforce being women of childbearing age, companies need thoughtful policies. Discrimination can negatively impact careers and wellbeing.

Here are three steps you can take:

Offer flexible work options

Offering flexible work options is key to supporting pregnant employees. Where possible, allow expecting mothers to work from home or offer adjustable schedules that enable attending prenatal appointments and handling personal needs. This could mean shifting start and end times, permitting extended lunch breaks, allowing part-time hours, or implementing reduced and partial schedules.

Additionally, ensure office ergonomics accommodate pregnancy by providing adjustable desks and chairs, foot rests, and laptop risers for proper positioning. Avoid requiring late-pregnancy business travel or allow opting out while making accommodations like frequent breaks on other trips.

Extend flexibility equally to partners as well so they can provide care and transport to appointments. The goal is crafting a customized flexibility plan tailored to each expecting parent's situation, enabling them to balance work and personal needs through open conversations about the supports that would be most beneficial. With a little creativity there are many options so pregnant employees can continue thriving professionally without putting their health at risk during this important time of transition.

Clearly communicate company parental leave policies and individualize support

Clearly communicating about parental leave policies and individualizing support is vital. Start by detailing official leave entitlements and pay provisions during time off to provide transparency. However, avoid a one-size-fits-all policy mentality.

Set up ongoing check-ins with specific employees leading up to, during, and after leave to understand accommodations that would be most helpful in their distinct situation. These could include modified workloads, gradual return-to-work schedules, and more.

Encourage open dialogue and take requests seriously, without judgement or assumptions. Recognize each employee’s circumstances, needs, and challenges are unique when having and caring for new children. Make space for addressing anxieties they may feel about workload coverage.

Customized accommodations may differ greatly between nursing mothers, non-birthing parents, those with medical complications, single parents, and more. The goal is to foster a level of trust where employees make requests feeling psychologically safe, while also providing education on leave rights. Catered support empowers worker retention and advancement while allowing employees to prioritize family during the critical early parenting journey.

Cultivate an inclusive culture

Cultivating an inclusive workplace culture is key to supporting pregnant employees and new parents. Promote psychological safety so expecting and nursing parents feel at ease making requests without fear of retaliation.

Implement sensitivity training across teams, ensuring respectful dialogue and behavior. Cover appropriate language, facilities, and policies towards pregnant and parenting employees.

Furthermore, discuss workload coverage strategies for when colleagues take leave. Make clear arrangements to prevent pressure from falling on the employee taking time off.

Finally, evaluate if company wellness initiatives meet the needs of those expanding their families, like providing private nursing spaces, milk storage options, and parenting support resources. The goal is normalizing pregnancy and parental leave as commonplace through cultural attitudes and related practices. With the right environment, expecting and new parents will feel confident in being transparent about needs, while colleagues will proactively offer assistance. The outcome is jointly taking responsibility for both individual team member support as well as broader efforts to nurture diversity and inclusion.

Our Nuance Culture Consulting team can help you develop policies and processes that support your pregnant employees.

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