What Every Expansion-Stage Company Should Know About New-Mommy Etiquette

Devon-McDonald by

In light of the upcoming holiday, I decided to write a post that is quite different from my usual focus — lead generation — and instead write about new moms in the corporate world.

More specifically, what every senior manager at expansion-stage companies should know about appropriate etiquette with pregnant women and new moms in their offices. 

(Disclaimer: Dad’s of course have rights, too! But it’s Mother’s Day, and that’s my focus here — so don’t be offended, please!).

At the expansion stage, many companies do not have HR in place. They are growing so rapidly that things like developing policies around maternity leave and office etiquette with parents and soon-to-be parents is often put on the back burner.

Not paying attention to legal matters like this can be detrimental to your business.

To avoid legal repercussions, and also to create a quality culture at your company, here are three things that executives and senior managers need to be understand about their employees’ legal rights that may not be so obvious.

3 Must-Know Policies Concerning New Moms at Work

1) The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that requires many employers (with more than 50 employees) to allow their employees (both male and female) 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the birth or adoption of a child.  

  • FMLA also requires employers continue to pay health insurance while the employee is out on leave, and they must allow the employee to return to his/her position or a similar position with the same compensation package at the end of the 12-week period.
  • To understand more about whether your company falls under FMLA, and what the act entails, here is a great resource. And here is the .gov page.

2) The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which was passed in 1978, makes it illegal to deny promotion to a pregnant employee, and/or reduce responsibilities based on a woman’s pregnant status.

  • To understand more about this act, and to make sure that the managers within your company are acting appropriately with soon-to-be mommies, here is a great resource, as well as this .gov article on the topic.

3) Employers are required to provide an appropriate space and reasonable break time for nursing mothers.  

  • …and bathrooms don’t count! Employers must provide a private room in the office with a door that locks for their new moms.
  • For more information here is a great resource to make sure that you are following code in your office. Here is another great article that Bloomberg Law Reports put out.

Depending on what state your company is located in, there may be other important laws to pay attention to. For example, California has a Pregnancy Disability Leave Law which allows up to four months of pregnancy leave and can be taken at any time within a one-year period.

Get your policies documented, and make sure that your employees have access to this information. 

Legal issues aside (and please consult your attorney if you have further questions about policies, etc. — I am not claiming to be a lawyer!), it is really important that expansion-stage companies pay attention to these issue to make sure that they are building a culture that embraces and respects women.

Most recently Marissa Mayer, the new CEO of Yahoo (who has made more than a few controversial moves in her first year in the role) increased the company’s paid maternity leave policy from 8 to 16 weeks. I’m not saying that every company can/should do this, but the more that women in your office are made to feel embraced, respected, and accepted, the more likely you will have employees who are proud to work for your company, and will continue to work hard to scale your organization.

Happy Mother’s Day!