California labor laws require employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant employees under current disability leave requirements. But what, exactly, constitutes a sufficient “reasonable accommodation?” Even prior versions of disability laws require employers to make these reasonable accommodations, but the laws did little to explain what “reasonable accommodations” meant for practical purposes. The most recent laws provide more information as to what employers must do in order to meet this standard.
In addition to “temporary transfers” (which are unlikely to be an available option for most small practices), examples of reasonable accommodations include modifying work duties, practices or policies, and taking actions such as providing stools or chairs in order to reduce the physical stress upon a pregnant employee. Also, just as they are required to do with any other disabled employee, employers are required to engage in a good faith “interactive process” when requests are made for reasonable accommodations. That means actually speaking with your employee in an attempt to find workable solutions which address her needs as a pregnant employee.
Providing reasonable accommodations to your pregnant employees is more than a legal requirement - it is smart business. Your employees are the lifeblood of your practice. They keep you up and running and help to create the overall atmosphere that ensures that your patients will keep coming back. Plus, given the expense of employee discrimination claims, especially those that turn into lawsuits, it is much more cost-effective (and much less stressful) to provide your pregnant employees with the accommodations they need to keep them happy and safe.