Things you need to know if you are pregnant and working by jennyyingdi

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									                                  BADM302-81
                                  Kathryn Taft




                     Pregnancy in Your Workplace




Presented by: Daniela Lucarino, Dennis Dong, Cameron Digby, Robin Toorenburgh &
Stephen (Xiaofeng) Hu
                                              Table of Contents



Executive Summary ............................................................................................................ 3

Emotional Sensitivity.......................................................................................................... 4

Ergonomics ......................................................................................................................... 5

Work Scheduling Change ................................................................................................... 7

Maternity Leave .................................................................................................................. 8

Conclusions/Recommendations ........................................................................................ 10

Appendix A ....................................................................................................................... 12

Work Cited List ................................................................................................................ 13
Executive Summary

       With an increasing number of women entering the workforce there is an

increasing chance of pregnancy. Many women will find the need to start a family the

employer is responsible to accommodate and support that decision and its affects. This

report will introduce four topics that the employer must be made aware of that will affect

workplace productivity and in some cases may have a financial impact. By the end of the

report the reader will be aware of the most important changes for pregnant women, and

how to establish effective policies in order to deal with the changes.

       This first topic is emotional sensitivity, this section describes the chemical

imbalance that pregnant women will feel and the affect that will have on the workplace.

Our main solution to this issue is to establish an Employee Assistance Program which

will allow the new mothers to discuss their feelings with a trained counsellor. The next

topic is ergonomics, this section describes the physical changes to new mothers and how

these changes will affect their ability to be comfortable and productive in the workplace.

Our main solution to this is to limit lifting and repetitive motions for new mothers.

Specifically arranging ergonomic assessments and ensure management plan for the

financial impact. The next section deals with work scheduling changes and how time

away from work will not only affect the work she completes but her co-workers duties as

well. The solution to this is to assign work equally among the remaining workers and

offer praise and recognition for their hard work during the new mother’s absences. The

final section describes how to handle maternity leave. The solutions we offer are to

either train a new hire in advance or work re-organization and delegation.
Emotional Sensitivity
       Emotional behaviour and the associated feelings with pregnancy are only a small

aspect of pregnancy but it is one area that management must empathize with and most

importantly accommodate.

       Work conditions effecting pregnant women that management may not normally

notice will become very obvious. It is now starting to become more evident of the

importance that organizations are attempting to deal with environmental work issues that

will in the short and long run also help to improve the sensitiveness that pregnant women

experience at work. Some companies are going beyond what is now being recognized as

problematic by the Government and have started and followed through with Corporate

Environmental Policies. An example includes addressing and identifying buildings with

asbestos. The complications that can arise during pregnancy in a toxic workplace are no

surprise when one considers all of the possibilities. Clearly it will depend on what type

of work the employee is responsible for, but every position will have risks that are not

just limited to chemicals and emotions (Appendix A).

       A toxic workplace can be much more than just what is apparent on the surface.

Communication and relationships between both customers and internal employees can

become more challenging when you are pregnant. Perhaps the usual job seems more

stressful even though nothing has changed, or the shift work is becoming more difficult

due to increased tiredness. Perhaps interactions with people have become more personal

or embarrassing because of the physical and emotional changes occurring.

       One option for accommodation is an Employee Assistance program and this is

recommended. This option should be suggested early in the pregnancy in order for the
organization to take advantage of the benefits. Counselling is well worth the investment

for any organization; it is often needed to help manage personal and emotional issues that

are not relevant to the job. It offers support that is truly needed when there is no one else

who will listen and give professional advice. The positive effects will be seen at work,

especially in regards to improved interpersonal relations and stress management.

       We would like to recommend that your management team review the

environmental issues that specifically affect the emotional sensitivity of pregnant women

and potential pregnant women in the company as well as consider implementing an

Employee Assistance Program.


Ergonomics
       It doesn’t take much to figure out that a pregnant employee will not function the

same way she did prior to becoming pregnant. There are extensive physical changes

happening in her body, both inside and out. Obviously some jobs require more physical

activity than others, but certain solutions mentioned at the end will hopefully help the

majority of pregnant employees and the employers of pregnant women.

       As pregnant women’s abdomen grows, so does the distance they must reach to

grip or pick up objects. This puts significantly more strain on the lower back, arms and

shoulders because they must use more of each muscle to exert an upward force. Simple

physics would stress the idea that the farther a weight is from the point of pivot, the

higher the force required to lift it will be; women have an increase in reach distance of 6”,

which increase the force by the proportionate multiplier (i.e. – an increase from 12” to
18” would increase the force required by 50%)1. In order to protect our employee’s

health, we must limit the weight to no more that 25lbs and ensure sufficient staff is

available to provide assistance when needed.

    Lifting is an ergonomically stressful situation regardless of occupation or pregnancy.

Trying to keep your back straight while lifting a box that is just slightly shorter than your

maximum reach is tricky for anyone, but is significantly more difficult for someone with

up to 35lbs of extra on their belly. Pregnant women, as they get closer to the last

trimester, are more prone to experiencing back pain regardless of the type of work they

perform; lifting heavy objects certainly increases that risk and there are safety measures

should be put in place to prevent injury.

    The centre of gravity on a pregnant woman is much farther from her spine: this poses

a number of problems, the most obvious being increased risk of back injury. As the

curve in the lower back increases, the strain on the muscles in the lower back increases

concurrently; standing while pregnant increases the strain on the lower back of the

pregnant woman. Some studies have shown that standing while pregnant can also harm

the foetus. Blood flow to the uterus can become constricted and may cause premature

ejection of the foetus or serious complications.

    Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when excess fluid in the wrists and forearms

compresses the median nerve. It is a common side effect in pregnancy and can often be

aggravated by repetitive motion in the workplace. By providing all employees with

appropriate materials to self-diagnose CTS, we can avoid lengthy work absences and

maintain happy, healthy employees.



1
Work Scheduling Change
       In Canada, it is the women’s right to continue working during their pregnancy.

Pregnant women can still work until their due date unless the nature of the job requires

laborious activity and exposure to harmful chemicals. According to the Supreme Court

of Canada: “temporary transfer to a safer job, part-time work, flexible hours, the right to

refuse overtime, the possibility of taking time off and leave without pay are some of the

arrangements employers might consider in the accommodation of women who are

pregnant.”2

       It is very important for pregnant women to have a flexible work schedule. Since

pregnant women are legally considered as having a temporary disability, employers must

make efforts to accommodate them at work. There are several options that may work for

both employees and employers including a part time schedule, job sharing,

telecommuting, and working more convenient hours. If a pregnant employee can share

her job with another person then she can still work part-time, splitting her job with

someone else. The benefit is that she gets to spend more time at home and this is more

flexible with her schedule. It’s also important that she share the work with someone who

works in a similar fashion as she does so that she is not stuck doing twice the work in half

the time. Some companies also allow pregnant employees to telecommute to their job or

work from home a specified number of days per week. Many women have opted to do

this successfully.

       Pregnant women who work in particularly stressful jobs should also think about

trying to reduce their working hours. A recent study conducted in Holland has


2
discovered that pregnant women who worked more than 32 hours per week at high-stress

jobs were more likely to have pre-eclampsia, low birth weight babies and babies who

cried excessively3. The study, which involved 7,000 working mothers, suggested that

women who work at high-stress jobs try to cut down their working hours to only 24 hours

per week.4


Maternity Leave
       You’ve been made aware that a valued member of your staff is now pregnant and

that her maternity leave will soon follow. What happens now? Who’s going to look after

her job responsibilities and projects?

       An employer usually has to make arrangements to hire a replacement for the

duration of an employee’s maternity leave. Maternity leave in Canada is currently 1 year

(17 weeks maternity and 35 weeks parental leave)5. The amount of time may vary

slightly between companies. The usual costs of recruitment, selection, orientation and

training of a new employee are incurred for a maternity leave replacement. However the

position you are trying to fill is only for a temporary contract basis. Additional costs may

be incurred during the training period as work in general is slowed down and overall

efficiency and productivity is reduced. The new replacement will take some time to

familiarize themselves with the work environment, procedures and job responsibilities.

       An alternative to a maternity replacement is job re-organization. The employer

may arrange for work-sharing, so that the remaining employees in the organization divvy

up the responsibilities of the person on maternity leave. One of the costs associated with

3
4
5
this alternative include increased overtime-pay for those employees sharing in the

additional responsibilities. Also assuming that each employee possesses an adequate

workload before the re-organization, heavier workloads, in the long term, could lead to

job dissatisfaction, more error-prone work, and therefore lower productivity. Success of

job re-organization may be only a viable option if the tasks co-workers assume are

similar in what they already do and have the skills to complete them.

       Another cost of maternity leave involves the possible decline of the mother’s

knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs). During the employee’s leave, it is understood

that her KSAs will depreciate the longer she is out of the workforce. Upon returning to

the work environment, the new mother may need to re-train and get acquainted with any

new procedures and/or technologies that may have been implemented in her absence.

Again, pace of work and overall efficiency will be affected until the returning mother

gets up to speed.

       Lack of employee engagement is sometimes an issue when new mothers are

expected to return to work. New mothers are sometimes reluctant to return to work or

may decide to seek new opportunities. To help encourage employee engagement of new

mothers, possible solutions include offering Supplemental Unemployment Benefits

(SUBs) and/or work-life programs such as flexible/alternative scheduling.

       SUBs (more commonly known as “Top-ups”) is a favourable method to help with

engagement of your valued staff. Currently weekly EI maternity benefits are 55% of the

person’s insurable income, up to a maximum of $413/week6. This could impose a

financial hardship on a large number of single mothers and likely a number of two-

income households as well. SUB plans allow employers to voluntarily compensate
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employees on maternity leave--with incomes that may total up to 100% of their regular

earnings.

       Flexible and alternative work schedules could be an added organizational benefit

by having more dedicated employees returning to work, who are able to maximize their

productive time and minimize the effects of outside responsibilities. Employees could

use them in a variety of ways; from avoiding rush hour traffic, to being able to see

children off to daycare/school, to having time to accomplish errands and other personal

business. In some cases, alternative work schedules can enable an organization to better

serve customers, who may be in other time zones or have flexible schedules themselves.

       We would like to recommend that the organization review each maternity leave

on an individual basis and determine whether replacement or re-organization would be

more cost efficient to each case. Employee engagement programs should also be

developed to help retain your valued employees, thus reducing employee turnover.


Conclusions/Recommendations
       Pregnancy is a tough job and as an employer of pregnant women we should be

doing all we can to minimize the impact of remaining in the workforce while pregnant.

To summarize we should:

For the employee:

   1. Offer counselling programs such as Employee Assistance

   2. Allow more frequent rest periods

   3. Limit lifting weight to 25lbs

   4. Limit standing time to 4 to 6 a day

   5. Limit the number of tasks involving repetitive motion
   6. Instruct coworkers to assist with lifting and reaching

   7. Offer a change in their work schedules

   8. Offer reduced hours of work

   9. Offer a retraining program to assist with bringing new mothers back up to speed

       the employee’s KSAs

For management:

   1. Discuss the pros/cons of maternity leave replacement

   2. Discuss the option for job re-organization

   3. Introduce an employee engagement program to encourage new mothers to return

       to the workforce

   Pregnant workers make up a significant portion of the workforce, and having a solid,

reliable pregnant employee contingency plan is a must. We hope this report has been

sufficient and knowledgeable for the reader.
Appendix A
Table 3.1 Examples of occupational conditions that may affect health during pregnancy
Problems                       Workplace Factors                 Job Types
Backache                       o Standing                         Factory Worker
                               o Lifting                          Waitress
                                                                  Teacher
                                                                  Nurse/hospital doctor or
                                                                    worker
                                                                  Hairdresser
Expanding size                 o Use of protective clothing       Food processing worker
                               o Confined spaces                  Cleaner
                                                                  Supermarket cashier
Frequency of urination         o Difficulty in leaving work       Telephonist
                                    station                       Conveyor belt worker
                                                                  Driver
                                                                  Teacher
Morning sickness               o Early shift work                 Cleaner
                               o Nauseous smells                  Food processing worker
                                                                  Nurse/doctor/hospital
                                                                    worker
                                                                  Agricultural/farm worker
Possible miscarriage           o Infectious agents                Laboratory worker
                               o Chemical toxins                  Nurse/hospital doctor or
                                                                    worker
                                                                  Manufacturing worker
                                                                  Agricultural/farm worker
Tiredness                      o Overtime                         Waitress
                               o Evening work                     Nurse/hospital doctor or
                                                                    worker
                                                                  Shop worker
                                                                  Office worker
Varicose veins/haemorrhoids    o Standing/Sitting                 Factory worker
                               o Working in hot                   Shop worker
                                    environments                  Waitress
                                                                  Dry cleaner
Additional Problems            o Home working                     User of machines and
                                                                    chemicals in unsafe
                                                                    conditions and for long
                                                                    hours
                               o Exposure to ionising             Radiographer
                                    radiation                     Nurse/hospital doctor or
                                                                    worker
                                                                  Dentist/vet
                               o Exposure to lead                 Lead battery worker
                                                                  Metal reclamation worker
                                                                  Demolition worker
Work Cited List
Anonymous, Canadian Human Rights Commission. October 3, 2006.
http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/research_program_recherche/rtw_rat/page5-en.asp (March 10,
2008)

Anonymous, Health Hazards in the Workplace. N.d.
http://www.pregnancy-info.net/workplace_hazards.html (March 10, 2008)

Anonymous. Working During Pregnancy. Nd.
http://www.pregnancy-info.net/working_pregnancy.html (March 10, 2008)

Hall, Nancy W. Balancing Pregnancy and Work: How to Make the Most of the Next 9
Months on the Job. USA, Stonesong Press, 2004

Kenan, Regina H., Jenny McLeish, and Daphne May. Pregnancy at Work: Health and
Safety for the Working Woman (Page 55). Pluto Press, 1998
http://books.google.ca/books?id=Ixg5loGliXUC (March 2, 2008)

Roach, Linnae - Paralegal, Camp Fiorante Matthews Law Firm 2001-2008,
personal interview, March 14, 2008

Pull, Kerstin; Alewell, Dorothea. An International Comparison and Assessment of
Maternity Leave Legislation. Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal. vol. 22, no. 2/3.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2003

Tapp, Linda M., Pregnancy & Ergonomics, August 2000.
http://www.sjsu.edu/hr/docs/risk/info/ergo_pregnancy.pdf (March 10, 2008)

Woodsworth, Sheila. Maternity Protection for Women Workers in Canada. Ottawa,
Queen’s Printer. 1967.


Appendices
Kenan, Regina H., Jenny McLeish, and Daphne May. Pregnancy at Work: Health and
Safety for the Working Woman (Page 57). Pluto Press, 1998
http://books.google.ca/books?id=Ixg5loGliXUC (March 2, 2008)

								
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