No woman should have to choose between her job and a healthy pregnancy.
Yet as Ohioans celebrated Mother’s Day this week, too many mothers-to-be are forced to compromise their health or the health of their baby on the job.
Three-quarters of women entering the workforce will be pregnant while employed at some point in their careers. But right now, there are no legal requirements ensuring employers provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers and their healthcare needs. This ends up forcing many women to take unpaid leave, missing out on wages they badly need with a baby on the way. Or they’re forced out of their jobs altogether.
That’s why I’m working to pass the Bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act—to protect pregnant workers and ensure employers accommodate their health on the job. It would give women the peace of mind that if they become pregnant, they will be able to keep working, while taking care of their own health and the health of their baby.
Today, millions of mothers-to-be work in jobs that force them to make impossible choices.
Their doctor may recommend bed rest, but they have no paid leave and their employer won’t let them work from home.
Their doctor may tell them they shouldn’t be on their feet all day, but their job forces them to stand for hours at a time.
Their doctor may tell them they need to drink more water, but they only have one bathroom break during their shift.
The bill would ensure pregnant workers who work for employers with 15 or more employees receive reasonable accommodations, which are often low-cost or cost-free to employers. Those include things like additional bathroom breaks, light duty or teleworking, or a stool to sit on if a worker stands all day.
It will mean more women have healthier pregnancies and healthier babies, and it will mean more women are able to continue providing for their families while they’re pregnant.
Every year as we celebrate Mother’s Day, we see a lot of politicians thanking moms for all the work they do. Let’s offer more than empty tweets — I’m urging my colleagues to pass this bipartisan bill and give mothers-to-be peace of mind that we’re going to protect their health.
Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) represents the state in the U.S. Senate.