IELTS General Training Reading Practice Test 4 – Section 2

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Read the text below and answer Questions 15-20.

Rights of Pregnant Women In The Workplace

1. An employer cannot fire a woman because she’s pregnant:

Sometimes, employers try to disguise the discrimination behind good intentions. They explain they’re worried about safety, for example. In other cases, the discrimination is more blatant. Either way, it’s illegal.

Take this example from a wings restaurant chain in the Houston-area. The company had a written policy to lay off female workers after the third month of their pregnancies. A federal investigation showed the company laid off eight pregnant employees. A manager told investigators that keeping pregnant employees at work any longer would “be irresponsible with respect to her child’s safety.”

But companies cannot fire employees for this reason. Exceptions are rare, even when a job entails being exposed to toxic chemicals or lifting heavy objects. Courts have ruled that decisions about the safety of the woman and fetus are up to the employee and her doctor, not her boss.

2. A company cannot refuse to hire a woman because she’s pregnant — or because she may become pregnant in the future:

Peggy Mastroianni, Legal Counsel in the EEOC, said this is very common, especially with workers applying for low wage jobs.

This problem occurs even at companies that rely on pregnant women as their customers.

A Philadelphia-based franchise of clothes retailer Motherhood Maternity paid $375,000 to settle a pregnancy discrimination and retaliation suit in 2007 after the company allegedly refused to hire three qualified female applicants because they were pregnant.

It’s also illegal to not hire a woman because she may become pregnant in the future.

“There is still a stigma against hiring younger women for some jobs, where an employer wants to know somebody is going to be on a job for years without interruption,” said Vicki Shabo, vice president at the National Partnership for Women & Families.

3. New mothers have the right to pump breast milk at work in a safe place. A company cannot fire or discriminate against a woman because she’s lactating:

You can thank Obamacare for this protection.

The Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide reasonable breaks to new mothers to pump breast milk for up to one year after a child’s birth. Employers are also required to provide a safe and private place other than a bathroom, to do so.

But there is an exception for small companies. If a company with fewer than 50 employees can prove that offering breaks or a private space would cause “undue hardship” to the company, it may not have to offer this accommodation to their employees.

4. In some cases, pregnancy-related conditions may entitle women to special accommodations:

A normal pregnancy without complications is not considered a disability under federal law, and it does not entitle a worker to special treatment.

That said, women who have complications or temporary impairments related to their pregnancy must be treated the same as other workers with medical impairments.

If a company has a policy in place that, for example, offers a light-duty assignment for a few months to a worker who injured his back, the company is also expected to provide “reasonable accommodations” to a pregnant woman who requires light-duty due to her pregnancy.

Other examples of reasonable accommodations may include letting a worker sit on a stool rather than stand during her shift, changing her work schedule if she has severe morning sickness, or allowing her to keep a water bottle at her workstation.

The worker usually needs to provide a doctor’s note, establishing there’s a medical condition that may temporarily limit her work capabilities. In the case of a pregnancy, common impairments include severe morning sickness, back pain, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and complications that require bed rest.

There are some exceptions, but again, to avoid providing an accommodation, an employer has to prove that doing so would cause “undue hardship” to the company.

5. An employer cannot force you to take time off or change jobs if you’re still able to do your job:

Sometimes an employer thinks they’re acting in the best interest of the employee — or protecting itself from liabilities — when it decides to reassign a pregnant woman or new parent to a less strenuous job.

Employers cannot base employment decisions on assumptions about pregnant women’s capabilities and health concerns.

For example, a boss cannot prevent a pregnant worker from travelling on business trips, because he’s concerned about her health. A company cannot deny a pregnant woman a promotion, assuming once she returns to work after childbirth, she will be less committed to her job. Employers also cannot reassign workers to less desirable jobs, even temporarily, due to concerns about a pregnancy.

Questions 15-20

Complete the sentences below.

Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the text for each answer.

Write your answer in boxes 15-20 on your answer sheet.

15. An employer cannot ………………………….. a pregnant worker from the company.

16. It is against the law not to hire a woman because she may become ………………………….. in the future.

17. A new mother is able to pump breast ……………………………. in a safe place.

18. The worker must provide a ……………………….. note if they have complications that impact their daily work activities.

19. An employer cannot give a pregnant woman a less …………………….. job.

20. A company cannot withold a ……………………………… just beacuse the employee is pregnant.

Questions 21-27

Answer the questions below.

Choose ONE OR TWO WORDS ONLY AND/OR A NUMBER from the text for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 21-27 on your answer sheet.

21. Who decides if the workplace is safe for a pregnant employee? 

22. What is very common, when pregnant women are applying for low earning roles? 

23. What can new mothers do in the workplace in a safe place?

24. What can a pregnant worker keep at her workstation?

25. What does the worker have to provide if they have a medical condition related to pregnancy?

26. What do some new mothers have the chance of losing after returning to work?

27. What do some employers want to stop pregnant workers from doing?

For help to answer these questions with practice please read the posts below >>

General Training Reading Band Scores

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Answers >

Questions 15-20

15. five

16. pregnant

17. milk

18. doctor’s

19. strenuous

20. promotion

Questions 21-27

21. employee/doctor

22. not hired

23. pump milk

24. water bottle

25. doctor’s note

26. a promotion

27. travelling

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