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Is it unreasonably risky for workers to stand for long periods during pregnancies?

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2023 | Workplace Discrimination |

Few life events are more exciting than having a baby. While all expectant mothers must plan for major life changes, many also must continue to work. Fortunately, according to the Mayo Clinic, it is generally not unsafe for women to perform their job duties well into their pregnancies.

There are exceptions, though. Indeed, certain job-related activities can be quite risky for pregnant employees. One of these is standing for long periods of time. As a result, many employers choose to make reasonable accommodations to workers during and even after their pregnancies.

Risks to joints

Pregnancy-related hormonal changes help women have healthy babies. These hormonal changes also can cause pregnant women to have joint and muscle pain. Consequently, it may be considerably more difficult for women to stand at work during their pregnancies.

Sitting is typically the most effective way to prevent the onset of pain. If a woman already has joint or muscle pain due to her pregnancy, increased sitting at work also can alleviate hormone-associated joint and muscle discomfort.

Risks to unborn babies

Too much standing can increase a pregnant woman’s chances of having a pre-term delivery. It also can put her in danger of miscarrying.

As you might suspect, sitting can decrease these risks considerably, even if sitting is only periodic during a work shift.  When sitting is not feasible, the Mayo Clinic recommends switching the leg on which a pregnant woman stands while using a footrest or stool to support the non-standing leg.

Most employers consider sitting to be a reasonable accommodation for pregnant workers. Ultimately, if an employer refuses to permit sitting, the affected worker might have genuine grounds to file a discrimination complaint.