Protection During Pregnancy
Work and pregnancy.
Using Family Medical Leave continued...
The Family and Medical Leave Act, passed in the United States in 1993,
guarantees 12 weeks of job-protected family leave, but a recent Congressional
study found that, because the leave is unpaid, some women who are eligible
don't take it. Recently President Clinton announced a proposal to create a paid
family leave program by using unemployment insurance funds. It needs
Congressional approval to become law. Mozurkewich hopes that her study will
alert public officials to the dangers of demanding physical work -- in
particular during the final trimester of pregnancy -- and edge Congress a
little closer to establishing a more enlightened family leave policy.
None of this will happen soon enough to help Joan Bartlet get through her
pregnancy, however. She's had to help herself. When she couldn't get nursing
administrators to budge on light duty, she found another way out. "A job
opened up in the activities department," she says. "I'll still be
working with patients, but I won't have to do the heavy lifting I do as an
aide." This solution has some disadvantages. "I had to take a cut in
pay," Bartlet says. "I'm making $6 an hour now. As an aide, I made
$8." But it's the only alternative she sees to protect her health and her
Jean Callahan is a freelance writer based in Salem, Mass.,
who specializes in health and medical issue. Her work has appeared in many
national magazines including Health, Self, and