Advocacy group calls on Senate to pass Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
Washington — Passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would benefit millions of workers, the National Partnership for Women and Families contends in a recently published report.
The advocacy group issued the report Oct. 31, about two weeks before the Senate is scheduled to return from its current recess. The Senate’s version of the act (S. 1486) has remained on the legislative calendar since Sept. 30, 2021. The House passed its version of the act (H.R. 1065) with a 315-101 vote May 14, 2021.
If the Senate – set to reconvene Nov. 14 – fails to take action, both bills will expire when the 118th Congress begins Jan. 3 and the legislative process would have to be reinitiated.
Both bills would require private-sector employers with 15 or more workers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees (any worker and job applicant with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions). Those accommodations would include an extra bathroom break, a stool to sit on, limiting contact with certain chemicals and a reduction in lifting requirements.
The report asserts that nearly 3 million women work while pregnant every year and around 1 million live in the 20 states that “lack any statewide laws that guarantee pregnant workers a right to reasonable pregnancy accommodations.”
In a press release, Sharita Gruberg, vice president for economic justice at the National Partnership for Women and Families, said it’s “increasingly clear that current laws are failing pregnant workers when it comes to accessing the accommodations they need to stay on the job and healthy and return to work after their pregnancy.”