Helping Out Pregnant Employees

Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer Howell NJHuman resources managers and all upper-level staff should be committed to doing everything within reason to help pregnant employees feel comfortable at work. This makes for a more comfortable workplace overall and decreases the chances of future conflicts and litigation filed on behalf of upset employees. Employers have concerns about making everyone feel welcome and appreciated in addition to doing everything they can to cut down on risk, including the types of risks presented by a lawsuit.

What Makes Employers Hesitant About Addressing Pregnancy Openly

After an employee announces that she is pregnant, the employer may be mindful of doing everything possible to avoid problems. This can, however, make the employee feel more uncomfortable. The employer might be trying to avoid bringing up the pregnancy at all so as not to make the women feel singled out, but this can also make it seem like no one is acknowledging the pregnancy. 

The very act of having no plan in place and never talking about it can make the employee feel as though her job is in jeopardy or that she is being discriminated against because of the pregnancy.  All employers should be aware of this fallout and should do whatever possible to avoid it.

You Need a Plan for Transition with a Pregnant Employee

When a co-worker or employee in the office becomes pregnant, having guidelines in place and ideas about how to make this person more comfortable are recommended for companies of all sizes. From making the big announcement to co-workers to figuring out how maternity leave is going to work, being pregnant at work can be very difficult and stressful for a working mom to be.

A study recently completed by the care.com found that approximately half of working women today were scared about telling their boss of the news of their pregnancy. Women may be nervous about bringing up their news to their employer and human resources and managers alike can all take steps to help minimize these concerns and make a pregnant woman safe in her working environment.

Supporting working mothers throughout the transition to parenthood, all the way from the news of the pregnancy through maternity leave and coming back from maternity leave can help to establish an appropriate company culture that makes working moms of all types feel comfortable. There are several different ideas that human resources departments and employers can keep in mind as they build a company that has a powerful work culture.

Advertise Benefits Appropriately

Any work-family benefits developed and used by the company should be clearly promoted throughout the physical premises. This can be posted in the bathroom and in the employee break room to help remind employees, including working mothers, about the supports and benefits available for them that are specifically tailored for their unique needs. This makes it easier for them to identify their individual work-family concerns and to take advantage of what you already offer. This can also show that you are taking the interest of all employees seriously by being proactive about implementing programs.

Provide Flexibility

Many employers use what is known as an informal flexibility program, meaning that the direct manager of the employee in question is responsible for providing further information up to a pregnant woman. This can relate to all sorts of issues over the course of the pregnancy, however, such as how a woman needs to request time off from work for necessary prenatal appointments and work from home days permitted after maternity leave.

Employees may be nervous about accepting these benefits, however, because of the stigma about working mothers and their overall commitment to the job. However, formalizing any flexible work arrangements by putting them in the writing can help to minimize problems and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

These subtle measures should not be overlooked. An employer might feel that if something is not as established as a support group that it’s better to avoid doing anything. However, no plans or information available in the workplace is just as bad and leads to confusion about workplace culture.

Any company today must have an idea of how to incorporate family concerns and other issues outside of the office, as at some point these concerns will inevitably have an impact on one employee or another.

Establish A Transition Plan

The transition to maternity leave might look slightly different from one employee to another, but documenting these guidelines in written format and referencing them with new and current employees alike can help to show that you have done your due diligence in putting together a plan that makes everyone feel comfortable and gives employees an opportunity to answer questions. This maternity leave checklist/timeline should include instructions for handing over projects and verify that coverage will be in place during the leave. This helps to reduce stress for the teams taking over the additional responsibilities as well as the working mom-to-be.

Create A Reintegration Plan

Much of the legwork associated with helping a pregnant woman feel comfortable in the workplace has to do with documenting your guidelines for how things may look over the course of the pregnancy and when she returns from work. A reintegration plan should be considered just as important as a transition plan before the departure.

Employers who are leading the way with parent-to-be policies may have the option to work from home one or more days a week or provide connections to new support groups within the workplace. This can help parents re-adjust to being in the office after their leave. This could alleviate an employee’s stress related to the workplace during the course of pregnancy and also make them feel more confident when they are making their way back into the office after time away for maternity leave.

Human resource managers and employers have a responsibility to ensure that they have thought of various options and established clear guidelines and protocols that make it clear to all employees, how things will be handled when a woman becomes pregnant.

Getting Your Pets Used to a New Baby

Adjusting your pet to a babyWhen my wife and I brought home our new daughter, we were over the moon. Every opportunity we had to count her toes, and marvel at the tiny little life we created really cemented us as a family. It’s true what they say – having a baby will make you experience a love you never knew existed.

Even though we were over the moon with happiness and excitement to finally use the nursery and the countless outfits my wife bought from Babies R’ Us (my eight-month-old has a better wardrobe than me), our dog Bella realized what a major adjustment having her in the house was.

While dogs, cats, and other pets can learn to be gentle and even helpful with a new baby, like my favorite mutt, Bella, who watches over my daughter like she earns a paycheck (I really think she’d choose my daughter over me at every turn), it’s important to prepare them for the event of meeting their newest family member before the baby arrives. Even after the baby is home, however, pets can be taught how to treat their new family member, and adults in the household should continue to keep a close eye on both pets and children to help avoid risks like dog bites.

Here are several tips to consider when it’s time to help your pets adjust to a new baby in the family:

1. What is exciting for you may be confusing for your pet.

Consider the situation from a dog’s or cat’s point of view, recommends the American Kennel Club (AKC). You’ve been preparing for months for the arrival of a new baby. Your pet, however, probably hasn’t connected the influx of baby clothes (seriously, Molly!?) and toys and the refurbished nursery to the idea of a new small human in the house. The strange noises, smells, and movements the baby makes may be unlike anything your pet has ever seen before — and your pet may not understand why they are no longer the center of attention.

By starting from your pet’s point of view, you can more easily find ways to make the transition easier for your pet.

2. Start as soon as you can.

If you can start preparing your pet before the baby comes home, do so. The AKC recommends an extra obedience class for dogs to make sure they understand how to sit, stay, and avoid jumping, as well as how to come when you call so that you don’t have to chase your dog with your hands full of an infant. Teaching both cats and dogs to accept being touched in unusual places, like the inside of the ears or the toes, can also help them stay calmer when babies or toddlers begin to explore, says Nikole Gipps at BabyCenter. I can concur that my daughter is obsessed with Bella’s paws.

3. If you’ll need to change your pet’s routines, change them gradually before the baby comes home.

Making a change all at once when the baby arrives can cause a pet to associate the change with the baby, making it harder to make the change “stick” and to get your pet to act warmly toward your new infant. Instead, make changes gradually before the baby arrives, if possible. For instance, work on shifting where a pet sleeps or what time of day they are walked. If you plan to walk the dog and baby together, practice walking with an empty stroller so the dog becomes accustomed to the stroller’s presence and movement.

4. Use recordings and other items to familiarize your pet with baby’s sounds and smells.

Recordings of baby sounds, like cooing and crying, can help your pet get used to the noises of having a baby in the house. Similarly, using baby lotion on your own hands or opening a container of baby powder can help pets start to associate these new smells with their regular home and routine. When the baby is born, sending a blanket or outfit home before the baby comes home can help pets learn the baby’s smell before he or she arrives.

5. For the first few days, keep your pets out of the baby’s space.

Let pets adjust from a distance and gradually, by keeping them out of the baby’s room or other personal space, such as your bedroom if baby sleeps there in a bassinette. The sounds, smells, and sights of you carrying, feeding, or changing the baby will filter through to your pet and let them learn more about the new family member at a more relaxed pace.

A few days or a week after the baby comes home, allow pets to sniff the baby, but only if they show interest. Control them while they do so by holding them or placing them on a leash. At all times, keep the baby elevated and place an adult between the baby and the pet, recommends the AKC.

6. Even when the baby is around, give attention to pets.

Pets, especially dogs, who associate receiving attention with the baby’s absence are more likely to become jealous and to act out as a result, according to the AKC. Instead, pet, praise, and provide treats to your dog or cat when they are behaving well, even when you are also occupied with the baby.

7. Never leave a child alone with a pet.

As your child grows, you’ll need to supervise interactions between the child and the pet. Make sure crawling babies don’t grab or pull on a pet’s tail, ears, or coat. Create a private space for your pet that is off-limits to your child, like a crate, bed, or gated laundry room, so that your pet has a place to retreat if they start to feel overwhelmed by the exploring child.

Above all, patience and calm are important. As your baby grows, remember to teach him or her how to treat the family’s pets, as well. Children who learn proper pet care and manners as toddlers are far more likely to grow up knowing how to “read” animal body language and avoid serious injuries like scratches or bites in the future.