Changing Expectations for the Expectant Workforce
Pregnancy is one of the top reasons for leave time, whether through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), sick leave, paid time off (PTO), or short-term disability (STD). According to 2016 benchmarking data from the Integrated Benefits Institute, pregnancies generate 28% of all new STD claims. While the actual level varies widely by industry, that average makes pregnancy as big a driver of leave and disability as musculoskeletal or behavioral health claims in many industries.
While the incidence rate for normal pregnancies has inched up nearly 10% from 2012 to 2016, the rate of complicated pregnancies has remained flat.1 In addition, disability durations for complicated pregnancies have decreased by nearly 10% during that period.1 These positive trends are driven by improved employer accommodations, said Michelle Jackson, AVP of Unum Workforce Solutions. “We have seen a marked increase in our customers’ willingness to accommodate earlier with expectant mothers to mitigate the challenges faced as a pregnancy proceeds,” she said.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has made discrimination against pregnant employees an enforcement priority beginning in 2013, emphasizing the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the ADA. The EEOC has interpreted the PDA and issued guidance that employers should treat pregnant employees as they treat other employees with non-pregnancy related temporary disabilities.
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