What Is A Prenatal Employment Law Checkup? Why Do I Need One?
If you have a job and are having a baby or considering having a baby, then you should have a prenatal employment law checkup. Having a child means you must balance the obligations of your job with those of your growing family. This balancing act is especially important during pregnancy and child birth, when expecting mothers may be medically unable to work during a part of the pregnancy, and will need time off work to recover from delivery and to care for a newborn. There are laws that protect employees during pregnancy, childbirth, and adoption, but they have strict limitations. You need to know whether you will have a job waiting for you when you return from these absences.
Fathers will also want time with newborns, and they often need to help take care of a pregnant and temporarily disabled partner. So, they also need to know how their absences will affect their employment. Having a baby is a joyful occasion, but it can bring some stressful times for a family. The last thing that you need is an added concern about whether you’ll have a job and insurance when you get back.
A prenatal employment checkup will determine what laws apply to your situation and define the scope of your legal protections. We will then look at your employer’s policies and practices, and make sure they do not violate your legal rights. Finally, we will consider how your personal circumstances, your employer’s rules, and the law can best fit together so that you can have a happy, healthy pregnancy and childbirth without unnecessary stress over job protections or job loss. It is better to know your rights and how they work in advance, so you can plan to stay within the legal protections and be prepared to defend your right to take leave.
When Do I Need a Prenatal Employment Law Checkup?
Ideally, you want to do this before you even become pregnant. This can make a huge difference. Many of the legal standards for protection depend on timing – like how long have you worked for the employer at the time you need leave, and how much leave have you already taken within a certain time. Ideally, you will want to consider these issues before even getting pregnant.
Of course, I realize that not every blessing is planned, so thinking about these things before you get pregnant is not always possible. But even once you are pregnant, it’s not too late. The sooner you know what your job protections you have, or don’t have, the more options you will have to make the right decisions to maximize your protection. The short answer is this: the sooner, the better.
What Issues Do I Need To Consider In The Checkup?
You should consider all the laws that may provide job protection for medical leave, pregnancy, child birth, adoption, and care for newborns. The main statutes in this area are the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and, in Louisiana, the Louisiana pregnancy discrimination law. My first step in the checkup is to determine whether the employer is legally required to comply with these laws. Under the FMLA, for instance, an employer is only covered by the law if it has 50 or more employees. Even determining how many employees the employer has at the right moment can be a legally disputed issue, and there are laws and regulations on how to do the count. So, figuring out what laws the employer must comply with is the first step.
The next step is determining whether the employee is covered. For instance, if an individual is seeking coverage under the FMLA, then they need to have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and for at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of the leave. They also must work at a location where the employer has 50 or more employees at or within 75 miles. So, there are requirements that an employee needs to meet to be entitled to FMLA protections. On top of that, there are exceptions, such as the key employee exception to FMLA protection, and rules for how to make that determination. There are many technical issues that need to be checked out so you know where you stand under the laws.
In addition to looking at the laws, we also look at the other circumstances of the client’s employment that might impact the situation. Does the client have an employment contract? If so, what does the contract say about leave? Is there a collective bargaining agreement, like a union contract that includes rules on leave, or is this a government, federal, or civil service job? These are not common situations, but if they apply to you, it is are going to have an impact.
Finally, we take everything we learned during the first two steps and look at the employer’s policies, practices, and procedures that might impact how all those rules are applied to your situation. Depending on where you are in the process, you want to plan for notifying your employer of the need to take leave and how you are going to use your leave.
For more information on a Prenatal Employment Law Checkup, or to set up an appointment, call (504) 300-0071 today.
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