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Jun01

Pregnant Employee Cannot Drive

We have an employee who has just been notified by her doctor that she can no longer drive and has now requested for the ability to ‘work from home’. Her position does not require any manual labor, it is sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day and working on a computer, taking phone calls, and attending meetings. I understand this is a ‘pregnancy disability’ and I am just trying to discover what type of documentation may we request from her/her doctor to substantiate this request. Is there a standard form we can use. ** we are a company under 50 employees but have chosen to comply with FMLA. We do not have a maternity/pregnancy policy. But we offer voluntary benefits that include Short Term Disability (which she will be taking once the baby arrives). So, more or less curious what leg do we have to stand on? Is this a valid reason to ‘work from home’ and how do we guarantee that she will perform her duties. I’m worried of what precedence it sets for future employees too. Thank you for your time. -Jessica

Though the federal Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies to employers with fifty or more employees, the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) applies to employers with only fifteen or more employees. The PDA prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy regarding any aspect of employment. The act requires that employers treat a woman who is temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth in the same manner as it treats any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, the employer may have to provide light duty, alternative assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave to pregnant employees if it does so for other temporarily disabled employees. So, even though you may not have a past practice of allowing a pregnant woman to work from home, if you’ve accommodated a temporarily disabled employee in such a manner the same accommodation must be given to the pregnant woman.

Additionally, employers may have to provide a reasonable accommodation, such as a leave or work modifications, for a disability related to pregnancy unless doing so causes the employer significant hardship. Under the PDA, employers are within their rights to request medical documentation to support an employee’s request for an accommodation. The federal DOL provides a sample reasonable accommodation form for employers, http://askjan.org/media/raemployersform.htm.

Employees given a reasonable accommodation, such as working from home, are still required to perform their work duties. It’s best to establish guidelines with the employee regarding what work is expected to be completed and schedule regular check ins. The employee can and should be held accountable for work that is not completed in accordance with company standards.

The FMLA entitles covered, eligible employees to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job protected leave in a 12 month period for specified family and medical reasons. The full leave may be taken all at once or on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis. Under the FMLA, an employer may require that the need for leave for a serious health condition, such as prenatal care or the birth of a child, of the employee or the employee’s immediate family member be supported by a certification issued by a health care provider. The Department of Labor provides a sample form for employers, http://www.dol.gov/whd/forms/WH-380-E.pdf. Employers are not required to use this specific form. If a company is not covered by the FMLA it’s advisable to edit the form regarding the adherence to FMLA regulations or use this one as a guide to create a form specific to company policy.

If an employer not mandated to comply with the FMLA chooses to still follow the regulations it’s important to have a policy in place to establish the responsibilities of both the employee and employer. It also sets the standard for future similar instances. Consider adopting a personal leave of absence policy to encompass all short term leaves.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, June 1st, 2014 at 11:39 am and is filed under
Benefits, Labor Laws.
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