Indiana lawmakers consider protections for pregnant workers

The Senate Family and Children Services Committee voted 7-2 Monday to endorse the bill, even though some business groups argued it wasn’t necessary and could lead to greater burdens on small businesses.

Posted: Jan 28, 2020 3:26 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — More Indiana businesses would have to allow pregnant women to take longer breaks, transfer to less physical work and take unpaid time off after childbirth under a proposal state lawmakers are considering.

The Senate Family and Children Services Committee voted 7-2 Monday to endorse the bill, even though some business groups argued it wasn’t necessary and could lead to greater burdens on small businesses.

The proposal would apply to businesses with more than 15 employees and would require them to provide workplace accommodations to pregnant women that don’t cause an “undue hardship” on the company.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb is supporting the bill after urging legislators in his State of the State speech this month to have Indiana join 27 other states that already have similar laws.

State Health Commissioner Kristina Box told the committee that such job modifications such as allowing pregnant women to sit while working or limiting how much weight they lift can help toward improving Indiana’s infant mortality rate.

The state has the 7th worst infant mortality rate in the country with about 600 infant deaths in 2017.

“These basic changes lower the risk for a pre-term birth, which is the No. 1 cause of infant mortality in our state,” said Box, who is an obstetrician and gynecologist.

Federal laws already require larger companies to provide pregnancy accommodations, but the proposal would clear up confusion for smaller businesses on their requirements, said Republican Sen. Ron Alting of Lafayette, who is the bill’s sponsor.

Several doctors and other health advocates spoke in favor of the proposal.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce and some other business groups raised questions about increasing regulation on smaller businesses, while local chamber groups from Indianapolis and other cities supported it as a way to provide clear expectations for businesses.

Large companies are already offering pregnancy accommodations because of the need to recruit and retain employees, and smaller businesses could face legal expenses to determine what steps meet the standard of reasonable job modifications, said Andrew Berger, senior vice president of the Indiana Manufacturers Association.

“If there’s not an inherent need, an absolute need for the government to be involved ... you should not add another layer into this system,” Berger said.

Angela Espada, executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference, described how she was born more than two months premature and spent time in an intensive care unit after her mother continued working at an industrial laundry during her pregnancy.

“When you can help a pregnant mother sustain her pregnancy that is pro-life,” Espada said. “But also, it is pro-choice so that women can have the choice to continue to work, to chose to bring healthy babies into the world.”

The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Democratic Sen. Jean Breaux of Indianapolis said the proposal would provide more security for pregnant women.

“Oftentimes, women are reluctant to share their pregnancy because they are concerned about the ability to maintain employment,” Breaux said. “So, I think this kind of removes that fear from the workplace.”

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 707111

Reported Deaths: 13216
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion963501718
Lake51613944
Allen39106671
Hamilton34449405
St. Joseph33979539
Elkhart27255432
Vanderburgh22060394
Tippecanoe21765212
Porter17945298
Johnson17507374
Hendricks16786310
Clark12681190
Madison12338337
Vigo12204244
Monroe11443166
LaPorte11118204
Delaware10341184
Howard9652211
Kosciusko9114114
Hancock7964139
Bartholomew7880155
Warrick7681155
Floyd7555176
Wayne6895198
Grant6837171
Boone6541100
Morgan6390138
Dubois6079117
Marshall5779108
Dearborn569876
Cass5683102
Henry5572100
Noble540683
Jackson493069
Shelby478495
Lawrence4338118
Gibson427989
Harrison427670
Clinton418653
Montgomery417786
DeKalb409184
Huntington378680
Whitley377939
Miami372465
Knox365989
Steuben364457
Putnam352560
Jasper350146
Wabash347678
Adams337952
Ripley334568
Jefferson312980
White308154
Daviess289299
Wells286281
Decatur278792
Fayette277162
Greene270685
Posey268533
Scott261053
Clay253244
LaGrange252470
Randolph235280
Washington230731
Spencer227631
Jennings224747
Fountain208445
Sullivan207742
Starke203952
Owen192156
Fulton191439
Jay186029
Carroll185720
Perry180236
Orange177253
Rush170724
Vermillion166043
Franklin165635
Tipton160943
Parke144616
Blackford133831
Pike130234
Pulaski113645
Newton103534
Brown100040
Crawford97614
Benton96713
Martin82615
Warren79615
Switzerland7698
Union69910
Ohio55711
Unassigned0408

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1052099

Reported Deaths: 18991
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1221671356
Cuyahoga1070432069
Hamilton781801168
Montgomery50040996
Summit45383909
Lucas40122765
Butler37721570
Stark31437895
Lorain24166473
Warren23885293
Mahoning20905583
Lake20009362
Clermont19441229
Delaware18038130
Licking16124207
Fairfield15708197
Trumbull15585460
Medina14868259
Greene14668236
Clark13634293
Wood12767185
Portage12384196
Allen11328229
Richland11041198
Miami10536214
Muskingum8706127
Wayne8576209
Columbiana8546226
Pickaway8436121
Marion8377135
Tuscarawas8376240
Erie7566154
Hancock6714123
Ross6699146
Geauga6537146
Ashtabula6495165
Scioto6289101
Belmont5626158
Union557647
Lawrence5467102
Jefferson5324147
Huron5307114
Darke5273121
Sandusky5174120
Seneca5124120
Washington5076107
Athens501556
Auglaize475684
Mercer471684
Shelby456090
Knox4387108
Madison422859
Putnam421599
Ashland413188
Fulton409467
Defiance402596
Crawford3872101
Brown386455
Logan372976
Preble370398
Clinton361560
Ottawa356978
Highland347059
Williams326774
Champaign320657
Jackson308451
Guernsey306649
Perry289949
Fayette277848
Morrow275339
Hardin264264
Henry263766
Coshocton259457
Holmes253399
Van Wert239162
Gallia233346
Pike233331
Adams228552
Wyandot227253
Hocking209059
Carroll189247
Paulding168638
Meigs141538
Noble132837
Monroe128841
Morgan106623
Harrison105336
Vinton81514
Unassigned02
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