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Ep 18: Beyond FMLA: How to Support Mothers & Fathers Before and After Birth or Adoption of a Child

What is FMLA? What is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)? How can employers support parents, especially birthing mothers, before and after welcoming a baby into their family? Two talented HR pros and mothers, Kristina Peterson and Mickelle Anderson weigh in with personal experience and professional advice.

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Meet Kristina Peterson

Kristina Peterson is a Regional Vice President at Nexeo HR, a dynamic, full service recruiting and staffing solutions firm. She originally opened the Logan, Utah branch in 2012, where she currently leads operations. 

Prior to working at Nexeo, Kristina held the role of National & International Account Rep and Marketing Coordinator for JJ Cole Collections, a boutique juvenile products brand. Kristina received her Bachelor’s degree from the Jon M Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University in 2011 and continues to cheer on the Aggies to this day. She is so happy to be living and raising her family in Cache Valley, Utah surrounded by friends and family.

Follow Kristina on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristina-peterson-b1960021

Meet Mickelle Anderson

Mickelle Anderson is a human resources professional at Space Dynamics Laboratory, a non-profit government contractor owned by Utah State University that builds satellites, sensors and more.

Mickelle received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in human resource management from Utah State University and a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification from the Human Resource Certification Institute. With over a decade of experience in talent acquisition, compliance, and compensation, she has conducted hundreds of interviews, has updated and written numerous company wide policies and procedures, and has presented classes on various HR topics. Outside the office, she enjoys lifting weights, reading, music, eating Mexican food, and spending time with her husband and three kids.

Follow Mickelle on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mickelle-anderson-mshr-phr-04901a9b

Episode Highlights

Family and Medical Leave Act

Mickelle Anderson: “If eligible, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows up to 12 weeks of leave over a 12-month period for the birth or adoption of a child. This would include the recovery time for our birth mamas.”

“This leave can be used intermittently or on a reduced schedule if it's medically necessary or agreed upon by your employer. It also provides job protection.”

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Mickelle Anderson: “On June 27, 2023 the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) became law. It requires employers who have at least 15 employees or more to provide reasonable accommodations for employees that are pregnant or recently have a baby through the birth of a child or any related medical conditions. As long as it doesn't impose any kind of undue hardship to the company. One example is women suffering from morning sickness could then ask their employer to flex their schedule for an amount of time. This could also include an equipment modification near the end of your pregnancy when things get pretty uncomfortable and sitting for long periods of time becomes tricky."

Advice to Future Parents

Kristina Peterson: “I wish I would have been a better advocate for myself. And I think this is so important not only in your professional life, but you're going to see you need to do that all along the way through your medical journey with your children. I work for a great company, but I really could have done a better job working with them to make a plan for when I would be out on maternity.” 

“On the other side, someone from my management team must have come up here because they got me a very generous gift card to one of the local baby stores. They were really accepting and excited and supportive and that made a difference for me.”

“Really enjoy that time and try to disconnect as much as possible because you're not going to get that time back. It’s a big life change whether it's your first, second or third baby and there is always an adjustment period. And I think it's important to be there and be present.”

Mickelle Anderson: “You shouldn't feel guilty about having a baby. It's a very natural thing to want to grow your family. But there is that stress of worrying about overburdening work colleagues. Don't feel like you have to apologize for having a baby. Do your prep work ahead of time and work on documenting the work that you do. Write procedures for those things so that when you do have the baby, hopefully you feel a little less guilt in that you've prepared yourself and your team as much as possible.”

“Soak it all in!”

For HR Leaders- Creating Plans to Support Returning Moms & Dads and their Supervisors

Mickelle Anderson: “We created a conversation checklist for expecting parents. It’s a resource guide that basically walks expecting parents through four different phases: announcing the pregnancy, providing support along the way, preparing to leave, and welcoming the baby. We have created documents for both moms and dads to use and we also created a supervisor training to guide them in properly supporting parents. When employees welcome a new baby, we help them get on the company insurance and encourage them to disconnect and enjoy time with their baby.” 

Questions to Consider when Creating Your Own Parental Support Plans

What will your coverage look like, both at home and at work?

What accommodations are needed at home and at work?

What do you value in balancing work and family life, especially during this significant adjustment period?

SPECIAL RESOURCE FROM SDL: The Team at Space Dynamics Laboratory has graciously shared their plans for both moms and dads- before, during and after parental leave. Note that these plans are ever-evolving to address the needs of their workforce and feedback received. These documents can be a great starting point as you create plans for your own organization.

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