Postpartum depression is a serious condition that can leave new moms feeling sad, worried or overwhelmed. And it’s quite common—up to 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression, usually beginning between a week and a month after delivery. Other new moms may experience related mental health issues, such as postpartum anxiety.
For some women, postpartum depression may result in a need for accommodations at work, such as additional time off after giving birth or the ability to temporarily work from home to avoid a taxing commute.
Women needing accommodations due to postpartum depression may have legal rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA requires that an employer provide reasonable accommodations to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless it would cause an undue hardship. Even though postpartum depression is often temporary, it may still qualify as a disability under the law, if it substantially limits a woman’s life activities, such as sleeping or eating. This means that an employer might be required to reasonably accommodate a new mom with postpartum depression so that she can stay in the workforce.
Many states and localities also provide additional explicit protections for pregnant workers, regardless of whether their need for accommodation qualifies as a disability under the ADA. Some of these state and local laws list accommodations that would be considered reasonable, including a temporary transfer to a less strenuous position or a modified work schedule.
Since the laws regarding accommodations for postpartum depression vary depending on where you work, visit babygate.abetterbalance.org for state-by-state information to find out the process for requesting an accommodation in your area. It’s a good idea to keep records of your conversations with your managers or Human Resources related to postpartum depression accommodations.
Please note that these laws are complex and this post is not intended to provide legal advice. Please consult with a local attorney or call our free legal hotline at 212-430-5982 (615-915-2417 for our Southern Office) for assistance if you have questions about your rights.