Is it true that some ladies take advantage of their pregnancy to go slow on their performance at work or is it always that it is the body that decides to naturally slow down a lady at that season? Joyce Mwangi, the HR Manager at Help Age International, provided some insights into this dilemma. She starts by indicating that the behavior of a lady during pregnancy is usually determined by two factors, mainly the bodily reactions and the work environment.
As much as it is true that the hormonal imbalances within a pregnant woman’s body naturally slows her down, there are documented cases of women slowing themselves down and taking advantage of their situation. According to Joyce, when the work environment is appreciative and supportive to a pregnant woman, the tendency is that she will push herself beyond limits to remain productive and an active team member. However, in situations when the work environment does not seem to respect her and appears inconsiderate of her state, the pregnant woman would easily decide to take advantage of her state to fully withdraw from the workplace. Such ladies have been known to take time off to visit the antenatal clinic for long hours and severally fails to turn back to work or reports very late in the afternoon.
There also seems to be a difference between how majority of private sector and not for profit sector players treat women who are expectant. Through observation, Joyce notes that the private sector tends to exert more undue pressure on pregnant workers as compared to the not for profits. As much as the not-for-profit sector, and this includes the government, would consider hiring temporary replacement to fill in the gap when the pregnant woman is immobilized, the private sector insists on saving costs by distributing the roles to the other staff. No wonder the rest of the staff do not approve of a pregnancy among the team members since it implies more work at no extra pay.
Getting pregnant while working should be a reason to celebrate. Celebrate life and celebrate the opportunity given to you to bring up new life. This is sacred. There have been cases of women being discriminated against at their workplaces by virtue of being pregnant. This is against the Employment Act (2007: 5:3a) which expressly states that a worker shall not be discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy.
Due to the concerns above, it is however important for the pregnant woman to be considerate of the welfare of the other staff, as much as all life at work ‘revolves around her’. The lady should ensure she sets up and implements a clear handing over and coaching processes to ensure the staff who are left when she departs for maternity have a seamless transition. This is important for both the woman and the company as the results are sustained while the lady ensures her work flow is not significantly disrupted by her brief maternity leave.
Finally, in the process of adjusting to the new found state, the pregnant woman should consider potential risks at work and discuss suggested means of avoiding them with her supervisor. She should be keen not to lift heavy luggage, not to sit or stand for long hours and also avoid working for long hours or working in areas with heavy concentration of industrial chemicals. All these have a potential effect on the pregnancy and could lead to regrets later on. Consider your health and the health of your unborn child even as you navigate your way through the job tasks.