Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Topic: Pushed out of a Job

This doesn't pertain to me specifically, and I know the title of this post sounds horrible all around. When could a pregnancy push a person out of their job? What situations pose a particular job related hazard to pregnant women? I think of all of these things in the context of being a post-doc after I read this article. It's a starting point for discussion.

The article that I came across (and forgive me for not remembering how and when I saw it...I'll blame the mommy-brain on that) is titled Pregnant, and Pushed out of a Job

It's an opinion piece, and so I'm almost giving my opinion of an opinion, and giving my take on things.

Short summary of the article is about women who are somehow forced to leave their job because of something related to pregnancy. Since we all know that it's illegal to fire someone because they're pregnant, the collective we also know that there are ways around it. The article also discusses what reasonable accommodations for pregnant women are, how it would benefit employers to do these things, and so on.

I'll admit that when I was pregnant with my youngest, things were good. I have the type of job where I can get up and go to the restroom as much as I reasonably would like. That came in handy in the 1st trimester when I would purge the contents of my stomach there. The red bags in the lab were handy for that too (although nothing of real quantity landed in the lab biohazard). I could sit down, and I had a chair to put my feet up on if I needed to (or just felt like it!).

However, there were two things of concern to me as a pregnant post-doc. The first was biological/chemical hazards. The second was time spent off of work (for various reasons and in various capacities). Were accomodations necessary for the first one? I'll answer quickly with a "no". There was nothing about that that would push me out of a job. The second one I'll discuss a bit more.

Time spent off of work. I'll give mad props to my place of employment for having short-term disability available for maternity leave. I also like that other people can donate sick time. My problem came with just not having enough sick time, and that I'd inadvertently lost some sick time when the New Year rolled around (my bad for not reading the HR policy). My oldest son and husband had active MRSA infections that required some extra medical care on their part, and I was showing signs of pre-term labor (don't read too much into that...I'm an early and big dilator, which translated to having weekly appointments earlier than normal). As in a previous post, I mentioned how I kept research (as well as my mind) going while on maternity leave.

However, not everyone is so lucky. How many times have I heard of post-docs going back to work soon (think days) after their child is born? Too many! A fear that I might have would be if my job would push me out if I took too much time off of work to care for a newborn. Even if it didn't push me out, how does having a baby alter plans for grant submissions? Publications? 6 weeks doesn't seem like a lot of time off (and it's not, really), but in research, taking 6 weeks off might translate to twice that in catch-up time or planning for the leave.

For now, in my current position, I feel comfortable that I won't be pushed out of a job for being pregnant, or be pushed out of the competition because of having a child (or children) while being a post-doc.

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