Letters to the Editor

Employment Accommodation Assessments for Pregnant Patients

 


FREE PREVIEW. AAFP members and paid subscribers: Log in to get free access. All others: Purchase online access.


FREE PREVIEW. Purchase online access to read the full version of this article.

Am Fam Physician. 2015 Jun 1;91(11):750.

Original Article: Disability Evaluations: More Than Completing a Form

Issue Date: January 15, 2015

See additional reader comments at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2015/0115/p102.html

to the editor: We thank the authors for their article on assessing a patient's eligibility for disability benefits. We thought it important to add that family physicians are also often asked to write employment accommodation letters for pregnant patients, because many women continue working while pregnant.1

Some women may worry about whether a job that includes physical labor puts their pregnancy at risk. Patients may be reassured that prolonged working hours, shift work, lifting, standing, and heavy physical workload are unlikely to be associated with adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes such as miscarriage, preeclampsia, and low birth weight.2 However, if a patient develops a pregnancy-related condition, the physician should assess whether the work poses a risk to her health or whether she is able to perform the essential functions of her job. The physician should then determine whether the patient needs to take leave from work or receive accommodations. In many cases, the accommodations are similar to what would be requested for any employee with a medical condition (e.g., women with gestational diabetes may need time to check their blood glucose levels and eat a snack).

It is key for the physician to compose a well-worded letter to the patient's employer demonstrating that the pregnancy-related condition meets the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Certain restrictions may make it impossible for a patient to perform the essential functions of her job. For example, if a pregnant medical transcriptionist with carpal tunnel syndrome cannot type because her condition has not responded to wrist splinting and other therapies, she would need to be assigned other work duties or, if no other job is available, take a leave of absence.

It is important to delay the leave until medically necessary. The Family and Medical Leave Act requires that the employer protect the employee's job for only 12 weeks of unpaid leave. If the employee cannot return to work after 12 weeks, the employer is not required to reinstate her. Physicians should ensure that the timing of the leave is planned with this in mind, especially because the patient may want to save the bulk of her leave for the postpartum period.

Author disclosure: No relevant financial affiliations.

REFERENCES

1. National Partnership for Women and Families. Listening to mothers: the experiences of expecting and new mothers in the workplace. January 2014. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/research-library/workplace-fairness/pregnancy-discrimination/listening-to-mothers-experiences-of-expecting-and-new-mothers.pdf. Accessed January 30, 2015.

2. Palmer KT, Bonzini M, Bonde JP. Pregnancy: occupational aspects of management: concise guidance. Clin Med. 2013;13(1):75–79.

Send letters to Kenneth W. Lin, MD, MPH, Associate Deputy Editor for AFP Online, e-mail: afplet@aafp.org, or 11400 Tomahawk Creek Pkwy., Leawood, KS 66211-2680.

Please include your complete address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Letters should be fewer than 400 words and limited to six references, one table or figure, and three authors.

Letters submitted for publication in AFP must not be submitted to any other publication. Possible conflicts of interest must be disclosed at time of submission. Submission of a letter will be construed as granting the American Academy of Family Physicians permission to publish the letter in any of its publications in any form. The editors may edit letters to meet style and space requirements.



 

Copyright © 2015 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact afpserv@aafp.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions


MOST RECENT ISSUE


Sep 15, 2016

Access the latest issue of American Family Physician

Read the Issue


Email Alerts

Don't miss a single issue. Sign up for the free AFP email table of contents.

Sign Up Now

Navigate this Article