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NEW JERSEY'S FIRE SERVICE
The intent of these guidelines is to provide the fire departments with guidance on issues of pregnancy and maternity of female fire service personnel. This is not a law nor a state policy.† It is simply a guideline that can be implemented by the department's fire chief where one does not currently exist.† We intend it for women firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMT's), and first responders who are full-time, permanent, probationary, part time or volunteer.
The Fire Service Women of New Jersey have drafted these guidelines in accordance with federal statues. †One federal statue and two court decisions have set the course for the current discussion of maternity policies in the workplace.† The law is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA), and amendment to the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.† The PDA broadens the definition of sex discrimination set forth under Title VII to include discrimination based on pregnancy and childbirth.† It states:
"Women affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions shall be treated
the same for all employment related purposes, including the receipt of benefits under fringe
benefit programs, as other persons not affected by similar in their ability or inability to work....."
The guidelines below may be instituted within a fire department regarding pregnancy:
t†††††††† When a member becomes aware that she is pregnant, she shall inform the Officer in Charge, hereafter (O.I.C.).† The O.I.C. shall request written verification of pregnancy from the member's attending physician.
GEAR AND EQUIPMENT†
t†††††††† A member who has become pregnant can continue to perform her job duties as long as the appropriate firefighting gear and equipment maintains a proper fit.† If gear no longer fits properly, the O.I.C. may relieve the member of certain duties specific to wearing gear and equipment, such as structural firefighting or any other hazardous duties, which require the use of turnout gear.
LIGHT DUTY AND HAZARDOUS MATERIALS
t†††††††† The Member should discuss her specific job duties with her attending physician, especially duties concerning structural fires and exposure to hazardous materials during her pregnancy.
t†††††††† Based upon the attending physician's recommendations, the member can request to be assigned to light or non-hazardous duties.† The assignment of duties shall be made by the department chief.
t†††††††† For safety of the fetus and the mother, any pertinent changes throughout the pregnancy should be reported to the O.I.C. who shall inform the department chief.
t†††††††† If the member chooses to remain active, she may do so.† However, chemical agents in the fire environment are many and unpredictable.† Therefore, there is risk to an unborn fetus that is exposed to hazardous chemicals and toxins in the fire environment.
t†††††††† When a member's attending physician has determined that she should not work any longer, then she will be required to take a leave of absence.† The attending physician shall determine her leave, when it will become effective and how long she will remain on leave based on her condition.† This leave can start during the pregnancy and continue up to eight weeks after pregnancy or longer based on her physician's recommendations.
t†††††††† Leave time taken shall be agreed upon by the member and the fire department, i.e. vacation, sick, or leave without pay.
t†††††††† No member, while pregnant, shall be forced to take leave by the fire department if the member's physician determines that the member is still able to work.
t†††††††† While on leave, the pregnant member will retain active status.† All of the memberís rights and privileges will be protected and will remain in place at the time she takes a leave of absence.† Such privileges include:† voting, credits, percentages, and length of service.
RETURNING TO WORK
t†††††††† Before returning to work, the member shall notify the O.I.C. about when she will be returning to work.
t†††††††† Upon returning to work, the member shall provide a written release from the attending physician stating that she is physically able to return to work.† This notice shall be given to the O.I.C. who then will forward it to the department chief.
t†††††††† Members, who are breast-feeding, upon returning to active duty positions, will be assigned to non-hazardous duty if they request it; or they can present a letter to the O.I.C. from their attending physician stating this request.
t†††††††† Breast-feeding can continue as long as the member deems appropriate.