Family is vital to the community of Charleston. For younger couples looking to start a family or have more kids, it can be challenging to manage demands at work with demands of the family. According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, many parents feel guilty for missing out on their jobs to take parental leave, but they also feel guilty for leaving infants at daycare while they go back to work in a few weeks. What is a parent to do?
This dilemma is not new for families, but a renewed focus on women and workplace rights has sparked the need for awareness once again. Both state and federal laws protect employees from discriminating against pregnant women, and other laws protect all parents who need time off after the birth of a child. Here’s a look at each law and the benefits it provides to expectant mothers and new parents alike.
West Virginia Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act
The balancing act often starts not once a child is born, but when a mother is pregnant. Many blue-collar jobs require women to be on their feet doing physical labor for most of the day, but it may be medically necessary to limit strenuous work during pregnancy.
The PWFA requires that employers provide reasonable accommodation to women who are pregnant. Accommodations could include a temporary change in job roles or providing additional rest periods among other considerations as long as they do not cause an undue hardship for the employer.
Passed in 1993, FMLA provides workers of companies with at least 50 employees to take 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave in a calendar year. The leave can be used for parents to take care of their children after birth, adoption or to treat a serious medical condition. Employees can also use this leave to take care of pregnancy-related needs such as time off to attend an ultrasound.
Individual employers may offer benefits in addition to the federal law, but this is not a requirement at the state level. Many parents struggle to go 12 weeks without one parent’s paycheck, so you should consider how to balance your family’s needs with your finances.
Many people believe that what is good for families and employees is good for employers and posterity, and some laws exist to support this notion. By being aware of your rights under the law, you can balance the needs of your family with the demands of your job.