Pregnant workers often need modifications to their jobs (less lifting, for example.) If your job is quite physical, a doctor’s note may be required exempting you from certain types of work – but the contents of the note could also backfire. To protect your job, don’t ask for the note too early and make sure your doctor knows what it needs to say.
Photo by the US Government.
In Australia, it is unlawful to treat workers unfairly because they are pregnant. This includes termination of employment, being forced to work fewer hours or being asked to take unpaid leave before the baby is born.
However, if your doctor’s note stipulates that you are unable to perform tasks that are essential to your job, your employer may decide to make some changes. This could include giving you different job duties, prohibiting you from using workplace equipment, being blacklisted from company travel and even being put on forced no safe job leave.
If that doesn’t sound like much fun, a cleverly worded doctor’s note may help your predicament. Here are some tips:
- Only ask for a doctor’s note when you’re sure your job needs to be modified – not on a “just in case” basis.
- Make sure the note doesn’t request things that are impossible, or that your employer might consider to be incompatible with your job.
- Make sure the note says what you can do as well as what you can’t, so your employer understands that you can still do the essential functions of your job.
Meanwhile, it’s a good idea to brush up on your rights as a pregnant worker. Employers have to accommodate your pregnancy the same way as other employees’ temporary disabilities, and you do have legal protections, as mentioned above.