In today’s tough economic times, many pregnant women continue to work until they are ready for delivery. Many new mothers also return to the workplace shortly after giving birth. A new piece of legislation in Illinois is designed to make these situations easier for pregnant workers. The new law protects them from discrimination and elevated injury risks.
House Bill 8
A new amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act, effective on January 1, 2015, offers enhanced rights to pregnant women and nursing mothers in the workplace. This amendment, known as Illinois House Bill 8, aims to increase the quality of life for working mothers in a range of professions and trades. It adds to the current disability laws effective in Illinois by redefining pregnancy as a temporary state of disability that may require special adjustments to the work situation. Pregnant workers now have the right to all reasonable accommodations on the job, as every Woodstock worker comp attorney knows.
Defining reasonable accommodations
House Bill 8 defines reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees as any or all of the following adjustments:
- Modified duty or less hazardous duty
- Changes in seating or standing arrangements
- More frequent rest breaks as needed
- Longer rest breaks as needed
- Deferment of compulsory training until birth and lactation are complete
A Woodstock worker comp attorney recognizes that employers are required to offer all these accommodations. Special requests that go beyond these guidelines may not qualify as reasonable accommodations, and employers may have the right to refuse them or offer them only in modified form.
Fighting discrimination against pregnant women
According to the National Women’s Law Center, cases of alleged discrimination against pregnant women on the job have doubled within the past 20 years. Despite this increase in workplace difficulties, Illinois legislation has not addressed the issue of pregnancy discrimination until now. This new law is intended to give women legal recourse if they have been unfairly treated because of their childbearing status.
House Bill 8 will affect many women
The effects of House Bill 8 will likely be wide and long-lasting. Many Illinois women are pregnant on the job. According to statistics compiled by the National Women’s Law Center, almost two out of three first-time mothers continue working during their pregnancy, often until the very last weeks or days. Single mothers and primary female breadwinners are projected to gain the most benefit from this legislation.
Juggling work and family responsibilities can be a challenge. Pregnant workers may want to consider discussing their rights with a Woodstock worker comp attorney.