A Policy Disconnect Could be Impacting Your Pregnancy

If the University of Alberta was able to show that working with a pair of blue gloves meant there was a 38% greater chance of death, how long do you think it would take before blue gloves were banned? I'm thinking not very long.

According to a recent article published by Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine on August 1, 2019, they have done just that - sort of.

Increased Risk

Researchers from the University of Alberta studied 62 independent studies from 33 countries and found that longer work hours (greater than 40 hours per week) "was associated with a 38% higher chance of miscarriage." They also determined that pregnant women working a fixed night shift had "23% higher odds of having a miscarriage than pregnant women working a fixed day shift."

Without an avenue for continued income, limiting the number of hours of work per week to below the 40 hour threshold noted in the U of A study is likely not a realistic option for many women. Neither is pre-delivery maternity leave under the current maternity leave program in Canada which only pays about 55% of a women's average weekly earnings up to a maximum of $562 (2019 evaluation).

Canada's System

Maternity leave in Canada is 15 weeks. There is an option to take the leave prior to having the baby however all maternity benefits must end within 17 weeks of birth so using up vacation time or other company sponsored program that gives full pay may not be beneficial in the long run (i.e. at the 17 week mark all income would cease). When maternity leave is over, parental leave kicks in. Parental leave could be 35 or 61 more weeks, depending on what option is applied for.

61 weeks?! That's right, in 2017 the Government of Canada extended the program to allow for a 18 month total leave option. But here's the kicker, the total benefits don't increase, all you are doing is taking the same amount of funds which would have granted over a 12 month period and spreading them out over 18 months (Source - Today's Parent). Think school teachers - they have an annual salary based on 10 months of work with a little bit of their pay held back each pay period. The held back funds are then "paid" to them over the summer holidays.


So what is a discussion on maternity/parental leave doing on a site that writes about operational excellence? Operational Integrity is when the systems, process, and practices of the workforce align so that the business is able to do what they say they will do. Assuming that the Government of Canada has implemented maternity/parental leave because of the benefits it will provide to all those involved, then their systems, process, and practices of the population do not align - pregnant woman are still working greater than 40 hour weeks despite the fact that the University of Alberta has determined longer work hours are associated with a 38% increase in miscarriages. Why are they doing this? Surely it is not because they all love their jobs so much that they are willing to take such a risk. Instead we have a classic example of a system that despite what it was intended to accomplish has forced people to act in a different way - 55% of your regular bi-weekly income is not sufficient for most people let alone those who are preparing for the extra expense of raising a child. The very system that is designed to provide a mechanism for mothers (and fathers) to remain home is structured in such a way that prevents its success.

If your business is still seeing incidents, reduced production, or other outcomes that a process has been instituted to handle, it might be time to take an in depth look at what the details of the process are forcing your workforce to do. Chances are you will fine a misalignment that needs to be corrected.