The AP is reporting that on Monday, January 27, the Indiana Senate Family and Children Services Committee overwhelmingly voted to support a bill that would offer pregnant women more flexibility and accommodations in the workplace. The bill proposes that businesses with over 15 employees must modify the way they treat their pregnant employees including:
- Allowing pregnant women to take extended breaks at work
- Moving pregnant women to less physically challenging positions
- Allowing pregnant women to take unpaid time off after giving birth
The committee voted 7-2 and Republican Governor Eric Holcomb is also supporting the proposal. There are currently 27 other states that have laws in place similar to those that are proposed in this bill. In his State of the State speech, Governor Holcomb asked legislators to join in on support for the bill. However, small business groups argue that new laws for these accommodations are unwarranted and could overburden small businesses throughout the state.
Kristina Box, the State Health Commissioner, explained that these adjustments for pregnant women in the workforce will benefit Indiana’s infant mortality rate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that Indiana ranks seventh for the worst infant mortality rate when compared to the rest of the country. In 2017 alone, 600 infant deaths took place here.
Dr. Box, an obstetrician, and gynecologist say that that preterm birth is the leading cause of infant death. Endorsing these changes will lessen the risk that pregnant women will face preterm birth. As it stands, large companies provide such accommodations. The passage of this bill would clarify smaller businesses’ role with regards to pregnant women. Dr. Box was not the only health professional who advocated for the bill. Many doctors and healthcare professionals also supported the proposal.
Still, there are real questions regarding the increased regulation these small businesses will have to bear. The bill will be sent to the full Senate for a vote. The bill looks to be ready for approval as parties on both sides seem to agree that it is important to provide these securities for pregnant women.
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