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While pregnancy per se is not a permanent condition, there are long-term consequences of the state. (M kel, 2005) the issue of work/life balance and quality of life can become important factors in the life of the female employee. Many organizations also tend to have the perception that women with children will be less focused and dedicated to their work. (Kidwell, 2001) the idea that the man is the bread winner and the woman the nurturer is still the main stream value. Although women have been in the workforce since the industrial revolution, in the past they exited the workplace after a child was born and returned only much later. In the past few decades however, women are less likely to want to leave the workforce. Many factors have impacted this decision -- higher standard of living, single mothers, lower wages and fewer opportunities to return back after an extended break are some.
Many employers tend to devalue the importance of the pregnant female employee during pregnancy and after childbirth. (Bragger, Kutcher, Morgan, & Firth, 2002) the fear is also that many productive female employees will choose not to return to work after pregnancies also acts as an inducement for companies not to higher females within child bearing years. As such, often, the bias might exist even if the female employee is not pregnant. Companies might be less likely to train or groom a young female employee for succession roles in the organization. and, lesser qualified men might be selected in the process. In addition, companies might also withhold training and education of the female employee considering it a wasted expense. It is important to note however, that the male employee can also be just as undependable. They could move jobs for better prospects and the company can still lose a productive employee.
Employers have some logical and genuine concerns that arise from having to deal with pregnancies in their workforce. For instance when the workforce is predominantly female, too many women taking maternity leave at the same time could disrupt operations. Courts and legal arbitration also tend to review these factors when making their decisions. While it would seem ethically wrong to be biased against pregnancies, companies exist to make profits. Any management will tend to avoid any factor that impacts the profitability of the organization. The idea that pregnant women are unproductive is not really a valid issue unless the productivity prior and during pregnancies can be evaluated.
Many of the issues of maternity leave are receiving greater media coverage in recent times due to a higher percentage of women entering and remaining in the workforce during and after pregnancies. Women are also entering new avenues of work where the guidelines of dealing with pregnancies are still being understood. Dependability of employees and the assurance that the employee will be very productive for a company is the premise on which most organizations identify training and educational programs. It is however important to note that there are no guarantees with respect to life and valuable employees can be lost as a result of accidents and sickness.
Organizations can lose skill and talent as a result of job hopping, low motivational efforts, pay incentives and bad working condition. To solely view pregnancies as a reason for loss of employee is in a manner short sighted and petty. When discrimination occurs to 50% of the entire workforce as a result of an event that is natural and important for mankind and the sustaining of population the unfairness of the entire process can be demoralizing.
Anonymous. (2005). Keeping mum: pregnant employees and employment rights. Human Resource Management International Digest, 13(4), 41-45.
Bragger, J.D., Kutcher, E., Morgan, J., & Firth, P. (2002). The effects of the structured interview on reducing biases against pregnant job applicants. Sex Roles, 46(7/8), 215-226.
Gueutal, H.G., & Taylor, E.M. (1991). Employee pregnancy: The impact on organizations, pregnant employees, and co-workers. Journal of Business and Psychology, 5(459-475).
Halpert, J.A., Wilson, M.L., & Hickman, J.L. (1993). Pregnancy as a source of bias in performance appraisals. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 14(649-663).
Kidwell, S.A. (2001). Pregnancy discrimination in educational institutions: A proposal to amend the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993. Texas Law Review, 79(5), 1287-1320.
A kel, L. (2005). Pregnancy and Leader-Follower Dyadic Relationships: A Research Agenda. Equal Opportunities International, 24(3/4),…[continue]
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