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Pregnant Workers Get Big Boost in $1.7T Spending Bill  

A bipartisan provision within the $1.7 trillion budget bill that President Joe Biden signed two days before Christmas is being celebrated as a huge victory for pregnant workers.

pregnancy pregnant motherboard parenthoof 57529The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will mandate that employers provide pregnant employees with temporary and reasonable accommodations, CNBC reports. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa) first pitched the proposal a decade ago in 2012. “This legislation would provide commonsense protections for pregnant workers, like extra bathroom breaks or a stool for workers who stand, so they can continue working while not putting extra strain on their pregnancies,” Casey said.

In addition to more breaks, the PWFA requires employers to further safeguard pregnant workers, including limits on heavy lifting. Prior to its passage, the federal law only mandated these accommodations for pregnant workers if employers also offer them to workers who have injuries or medical conditions, Reuters reports.

Dina Bakst, co-founder and co-president of A Better Balance, a national non-profit that fights on behalf of workers, praised the PWFA as “monumental civil rights legislation.”

“With PWFA, pregnant workers will no longer have to make the impossible choice between the health of her pregnancy and affording food for her family,” Bakst wrote in a statement. “A new mom won’t face job loss when she’s still recovering from childbirth. Employers can no longer treat pregnant workers like they are expendable once they find out they are expecting a child or need a modest accommodation to prevent serious health complications.”

Bakst also celebrated the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act that was part of the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill, noting that the legislation “will guarantee millions more workers the right to break time and space to express milk…”

“After decades of being brushed aside and being treated like second-class citizens, pregnant and postpartum workers will finally have the law on their side, affording them long overdue respect, dignity and equality under our nation’s civil rights law,” Bakst said.

Society for Human Resource Management also pushed for the PWFA to be included in the spending bill noting that the “legislation features important workplace protections for pregnant workers while ensuring employers have flexibility and clarity regarding how to best ensure pregnant employees can remain in the workplace.”

SHRM also points out that the PWFA syncs with the American with Disabilities Act in that it “triggers a familiar interactive process once an employee requests an accommodation to perform the essential functions of their position.”

“Importantly, leave may be provided as an accommodation only after the interactive process cannot identify a reasonable accommodation within the workplace,” SHRM notes.

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