Late-term pregnant employees count economic cost over safety

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Labour Commissioner Eltonia Rojas said there is currently no law that protects late-term pregnant women from engaging in strenuous tasks while at work.
This newspaper has observed pregnant security personnel on job sites late at nights, sometimes alone.
One woman who contacted OBSERVER media said that since informing her superiors that she would need consideration for better shifts because of a difficult pregnancy, she was told to work her assigned shifts or go home.
“This is not my first child so I thought I would know what to expect. When I started having a lot of problems and I spoke to my supervisor, I was told that I can take all the rest I need at home. I know that if I do, then I won’t get maternity leave, so I just have to try and push through, but it is so hard, my back hurts, my legs are swollen from standing so long and I can barely walk,” the expectant mother told OBSERVER media.
She explained that after consulting with her doctor who gave her sick leave from work to recuperate, she learnt that the leave pay could be deducted from her maternity entitlement.
The security officer who said she is the sole breadwinner in her household of four indicated that the pregnancy is an additional burden on her small body.
“I have my family to feed. I don’t want to upset anyone but I’m human too, and there are times I can’t sit down because the chair provided is flimsy and I struggle to get up from it. I am just praying to deliver this baby safely and try to look for something else, but looking for a job as a non-national is already a task. You talk for your rights and you get victimised and more late shifts,” she said.
Pregnancy is not classified as an ailment, but when a woman’s job becomes a risk to the child or mother, a doctor’s letter is often prepared for the employer, who usually assigns lighter duties for the duration of the pregnancy.
“However, there are some business places that don’t have alternative duties or lighter work and so the option would be for persons to come off work by a certain time. Right now the only poor labour practice that I can identify is in the case where seating is not provided for persons to be able to rest,” Rojas said.
She added that despite the risk, expectant mothers tend to count the financial hardships that might ensue if they chose to stay at home at a time when their families are expanding.

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