Doctor's Note May Have Unintended Consequences for Pregnant Workers

Doctor's Note for Pregnant Workers
Doctor's Note for Pregnant Workers

(HealthDay News) — Writing an effective work restriction note is important for protecting pregnant women's jobs, according to a commentary published in the August issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Rebecca A. Jackson, MD, from the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues describe the case of a 28-year-old woman who worked as a stocker in a large retail store, and asked her prenatal care provider to write a letter to her employer to limit her lifting. Her employer told her she must go on leave. After returning to work postpartum she was informed that she was terminated from her job because her three months of leave was consumed before she was ready to return to work.

The authors note that correct writing of employment notes can allow patients to negotiate for and obtain medically indicated workplace accommodations, enabling them to continue working. A poorly written note can jeopardize a patient's employment. Prenatal care providers should understand basic employment law when asked to write work notes, to ensure protection of pregnant women's employment rights. Health care providers should determine if work exception is really necessary for pregnant women, and understand the risks of going out on leave too early.

"Writing a precise, informed, and thoughtful note can help a patient continue to work during pregnancy as well as keep her job and health benefits after delivery," the authors write.

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