Background: Pregnant women at work have special needs, and sick leave is common. However, job adjustment in pregnancy is addressed in European legislation. Our main objective was to examine if job adjustment was associated with reduced absence.
Methods: This study is based on the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. 28 611 employed women filled in questionnaires in weeks 17 and 30 in pregnancy. The risk of absence for more than 2 weeks was studied among those who were not absent in week 17 (n = 22 932), and the probability of return to work in week 30 among those who were absent in week 17 (n = 5679). Data were based on self-report. The influence of job adjustment (three categories: not needed, needed but not obtained, needed and obtained) was analysed in additive models in multivariable binomial regression. Associations with other job characteristics and work environment factors were also analysed.
Results: The risk of absence for more than 2 weeks was 0.308 and the probability of return to work was 0.137. Compared with women who needed but did not achieve job adjustment, obtained job adjustment was associated with a 0.107 decreased risk of absence (95% confidence interval 0.090 to 0.125) in a model including other job characteristics and work environment factors. Job adjustment was correspondingly associated with a 0.041 (0.023 to 0.059) increased probability of return to work. Absence was associated with adverse work environment, whereas the opposite pattern was found for return to work among those who started off being absent.
Conclusions: Job adjustment was associated with reduced absence from work in pregnancy. Results should be interpreted cautiously because of low participation in MoBa and potential information bias from self-reported data.
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Funding: The Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study is supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Health, NIH/NIEHS (grant no N01-ES-85433), NIH/NINDS (grant no.1 UO1 NS 047537-01) and the Norwegian Research Council/FUGE (grant no. 151918/S10).
Competing interests: None.