By LEAH DEARBORN
PEABODY — State Sen. Joan Lovely of the Second Essex District is at work on a bill to support pregnant workers across the state.
Lovely recently refiled the bill, called the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, after it carried over from a previous legislative session.
Its purpose is to ensure that pregnant workers are granted reasonable accommodations by employers. That might include extra breaks or furnishing a stool to sit on, said Lovely.
The bill outlines items like time off to recover from childbirth with or without pay, temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position, job restructuring and assistance with manual labor as some of the adjustments employers would be unable to deny workers.
“I’m confident it will pass,” said Lovely, adding that so far, she’s seen bipartisan support across the senate.
Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo has endorsed the bill, as well as Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), which worked closely with lawmakers to outline its second draft.
“There was a sense on both sides of being able to talk and compromise,” said Christopher Geehern, AIM’s executive vice president for marketing. “Frankly, I think the vast majority of employers would’ve done all of this anyway. I think wise employers are anxious to make accommodations to keep their skilled workers.”
Geehern said that in the new draft of the bill, there’s a clear course of action for companies who might find a particular request burdensome.
Whether a request constitutes a hardship would be determined by factors related to expense, size, financial resources and the effect of the request on regular operations.
The language of the bill encompasses pregnancy as well as related conditions, specifically designating a private, non-bathroom space for breastfeeding if called for.
Geehern said that while it’s currently illegal for employers to discriminate against hiring women who are pregnant, there’s no law that requires any sort of accommodation be made for those workers.
A hearing for the bill should take place within two or three months, said Lovely.
“It’s a really good pro-business bill that will help those businesses who are employing pregnant workers,” she said.
Leah Dearborn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.