Pregnant women require minor alterations in order to perform optimally and safely at work. These alterations include more frequent bathroom breaks, carrying a water bottle, sitting down more and having some time off after the pregnancy to recover. Unfortunately, pregnant women continue to find themselves jobless since employers are often reluctant to accommodate to their needs.
Certain tasks unsuitable for pregnant women, such as heavy lifting or using toxic cleaning supplies, could potentially pose a threat to the health of an expecting mother and her child. In fact, some women have reported suffering miscarriages after they were required to partake in tasks that involved heavy lifting.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a bill passed last September in New York City, could offer pregnant workers a chance to level the playing field, with a focus on protecting their rights, their health and the health of their fetuses. This law now requires employers to reasonably accommodate the needs of pregnant workers. Failure to do so could result in heavy fines and even possible jail time. The law is looking to keep both mothers and children safe, unlike previous laws, which did not have children in mind.
This is yet another large step for women in the workplace since more than three-quarters of women will be pregnant at least once during employment. It’s an advancement that will have an effect on nearly all women in the workforce. Many hope the bill will end discrimination of pregnant applicants, yet the struggle for working pregnant women may continue. Geared towards ending discrimination and mistreatment of pregnant workers, this bill will serve to protect the rights and health of pregnant women in the workforce, and will hopefully serve as a precedent for other states.