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House approves act aimed at helping pregnant workers

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Pregnant workers are one step closer to getting more accommodations on the job. Members of the U.S. House pushed through the “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.”

Lawmakers have been trying to get similar legislation passes since 2012. This is the first time it’s made it this far. Advocates said making this bill a reality could help minimize infant and maternal mortality rates.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act made it through the House. Six of Indiana’s nine representatives voted it through. Supporters said if it goes into law, it’ll require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees.

“This is also a health and safety issue for women. In Indiana, we know we have some of the highest rates of infant and mortality in the country. And so we need to be looking at how a pregnant women are treated in the workplace,” said Erin Macey, senior policy analyst at the Indiana Institute for Working Families.

She said getting this bill passed would have a major impact on women who work low-wage or physically demanding jobs. She said that’s where advocates are seeing connections in workplace conditions and preterm births or miscarriages.

“Another mom was let go for failing to find someone to cover her prenatal visit. So there are some really, here in Indianapolis, egregious stories,” said Macey referring to an instance of a Indiana mother not getting these kinds of accommodations.

Some of the accommodations would include: a place to sit, permission to carry a water bottle, relief from heavy lifting, and the ability to take unpaid day off for prenatal visits.

“For the economic security of women. So this is an issue of making sure that women can keep working while they are pregnant. And do so safely,” Macey said.

Macey said getting this bill through federally would be great, but getting local legislation could make it happen faster. Indiana is one of the states that doesn’t already demand these kinds of accommodations.

The next step would be for the Senate to pass this measure. There’s no timeline on when that could happen.