Pregnancy and Work

This article was produced by CLS, GHLA, NHLAA, and SLS.

Pregnancy and Work

Does the law protect pregnant women in the workplace? 

Yes. The law protects you against discrimination related to your

  • pregnancy (or possible pregnancy), 
  • pregnancy needs, and 
  • childbirth. 

The law treats your pregnancy like a temporary disability. Your employer must not

  • Ask you about your pregnancy or your plans to have children.
  • Fire you or deny you a job or promotion because you are or may become pregnant.
  • Treat you differently from other employees. For example, if you go on leave because of your pregnancy, your employer must not treat you differently than other employees on disability leave.
  • Force you to take time off because you are pregnant. If your job is unsafe or difficult to do because of your pregnancy, your employer must change your job duties or offer you another position.
    Note: Your employer does not have to create a new job just for you.

Can I take time off from work?

Yes. The law says you can take time off during or after pregnancy.

Can I get paid leave?

You can use your sick leave or disability leave (if you have it) for your pregnancy and maternity leave.

Can I get unpaid leave?

Yes. After the baby is born, you and the other parent have the right to take family leave to care for the child.  You also have the right to take family leave before the birth if you have complications related to your pregnancy.

How much leave can I take?

You may be able to take up to16 weeks of unpaid family leave.  The amount of leave you can take depends on the type of company you work for, how many employees work there, and how long you’ve worked there.  Talk to your Human Resources department if you have one.   

Employees at your company

Leave Time


Usually 6-8 weeks


12 weeks in a 12 month period


16 weeks in a 24 month period

Does the other parent have to be married to me to take family leave?

No. Both parents have the right to family leave. It doesn’t matter if you are married, living together, have a civil union, or other arrangement.

Who decides when I have to stop working?

You do!  You can work as long as you want to and can do the work.

Note: If your pregnancy interferes with your job, your employer must:

  • modify your tasks, or
  • transfer you to a different job (if there is one available) that you can do.

Can I keep my benefits during my leave?

Your employer must treat pregnancy like any other temporary disability.  That means that if employees with other kinds temporary disabilities keep their benefits, you must be able to keep them too.

Can I have my old job back after my leave?

Yes. When you go back to work, your employer must give you the same (or similar) job with same pay, same benefits and seniority.

Can I collect unemployment compensation (UC)?

Probably not. Unemployment compensation is for people who are able and available to work.

Exception: If you want to do light work, but your employer does not have a light job for you, you may be able to get unemployment.

What if I think my workplace is not safe for me or my unborn baby?

All employees – pregnant or not – have the right to a safe workplace.

Your employer cannot:

  • Make you work in unsafe conditions, or
  • Punish you if you refuse to do so.

If there is anything unsafe at your workplace, tell your employer in writing. Your letter should also:

  • Ask the employer to fix the safety problem, or
  • Transfer you (at least while you are pregnant) to another job.

Can my employer treat me differently because I am pregnant?

No. An employer must not treat you differently because of your pregnancy. For example, the employer must not:

  • Change your work duties, hours, or pay, or
  • Change where you work, such as moving you to the back or a different location so people won’t see you.

Can my employer make me promise not to get pregnant?

No! An employer must not:

  • Ask you not to get pregnant, or
  • Ask you to get sterilized so you can get or keep your job.

What can I do if my employer does not follow the law about pregnancy?

Get legal help from a lawyer, your union, or one of the agencies below. They can give you advice, information and help filing a complaint.But contact them soon. Most discrimination cases must be filed within 180 days.

Help for Low-Income PeopleHelp for Discrimination CasesHelp for Family/Medical Leave Cases
Statewide Legal Services:

Central Connecticut:


Other areas of Connecticut:


Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities

Eastern CT 860-886-5703
Hartford Area 860-566-7710
West Central CT 203-805-6579
Southwest CT 203-579-6246

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
CT Department of Labor

U.S. Department of Labor

This article was produced by the Legal Assistance Resource Center of Connecticut in cooperation with Connecticut Legal Services, Greater Hartford Legal Aid, New Haven Legal Assistance Association, and Statewide Legal Services.  The information in this booklet is based on laws in Connecticut as of 7/2013. We hope that the information is helpful. It is not intended as legal advice. For advice on your situation, call Statewide Legal Services or contact a lawyer. 

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