By Amber Mack
The federal Pregnant Employees Equity Act (H.R. 1065) handed the U.S. Home on Might 14 by a vote of 315-101. This is a crucial measure that Georgia’s pregnant and postpartum staff have to thrive in protected working environments.
So far, 30 U.S. states have instituted laws to make sure working ladies are shielded from discrimination whereas they’re pregnant or after they’ve lately given start. The seven states in our area which have handed such laws are Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.
Sadly, Georgia is without doubt one of the 20 remaining states with out a coverage that ensures cheap lodging for being pregnant and childbirth, which means pregnant staff who merely want a stool to sit down on, consuming water to remain hydrated, or short-term reduction from heavy lifting are susceptible to termination. The Coalition for Georgia’s Pregnant Employees (CGPW) is working to make sure that that is now not the case.
Cheap, low-cost lodging comparable to ample water, meals breaks, and entry to a seat through the workday assist ladies keep on the job and assist wholesome pregnancies. The Kentucky Division of Public Well being and Wellness addressed pregnant staff’ well being considerations in its 2019 Pregnant Employees Well being Impression Evaluation. The report concluded that cheap lodging may permit pregnant staff to remain on the job and scale back detrimental well being outcomes for mom and child.
It is usually vital for employers to offer lactation insurance policies to assist households as new moms return to work, to enhance Georgia’s breastfeeding period charges. Solely 22 % of Georgia’s new moms are assembly the American Academy of Pediatrics’ advice of solely breastfeeding for six months.
Breastfeeding has been related to a number of well being advantages to a rising child, together with decreased dangers of Sudden Toddler Loss of life Syndrome (SIDS), respiratory infections, diabetes and weight problems. In 2020, the Georgia Common Meeting handed HB 1090, which might require employers to offer cheap break time to an worker who wants breast milk for a nursing youngster. Nonetheless, no enforcement mechanisms have been included within the legislation, so staff haven’t any recourse out there if employers don’t observe the legislation.
Office lodging are business-friendly measures. They assist companies by rising worker retention and morale in addition to decreasing turnover. Girls could also be extra inclined to remain in a job they know is supportive of their being pregnant and postpartum wants. This reduces turnover, thus saving employers hiring and coaching prices.
Moreover, establishing protections for pregnant and postpartum staff helps employers keep away from pricey litigation by offering express requirements associated to discrimination. Clear pointers will permit employers to higher perceive what lodging they have to present to those staff, and what office insurance policies could be thought-about discriminatory. This helps resolve authorized issues earlier than they come up by facilitating casual decision of staff’ complaints.
Our lawmakers at each the state and federal ranges now have a possibility to make sure that no pregnant employee has to make the unimaginable alternative between defending her well being and paying her payments. In subsequent 12 months’s session of the Georgia Common Meeting, members ought to advance HB 650, the Georgia Working for Two Act. Additionally, all members of Georgia’s congressional delegation ought to vote sure on H.R. 1065, the federal Pregnant Employees Equity Act, which is now headed to the Senate for motion. These crucial office protections for pregnant and postpartum staff are lengthy overdue.
Amber Mack is the analysis & coverage analyst at Wholesome Moms, Wholesome Infants Coalition of Georgia. Amber coordinates multi-sector working teams to deal with a variety of maternal and toddler well being wants together with oral well being, doula providers, toddler mortality, and entry to care. She additionally manages analysis tasks, together with the State of the State Report and Georgia COVID Perinatal Experiences (COPE) Research, and evaluates the influence of HMHBGA packages. Partaking with legislators and advocates, she gives technical knowledge assist for insurance policies that may enhance maternal and toddler well being throughout the state of Georgia.