Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, today introduced the Pregnant Worker Fairness Act, legislation which would provide basic accommodations for pregnant women in the workplace.

“The Pregnant Worker Fairness Act will ensure that all women are able to keep their jobs during pregnancy. Too often, women who work jobs that are physically demanding, in restaurants or retail work, checking baggage at the airport, or in male-dominated fields like deliveries and trucking, don’t receive the minor, temporary accommodations they need to stay on the job while they’re pregnant.

“Instead, these women are forced to take time off work, often unpaid or at reduced wages, and lose both income and advancement opportunities while they’re gone — assuming their jobs are even still there when they’re ready to return. For those who must continue to work, even under unsafe or unhealthy conditions during late pregnancy, the risks include a higher chance of infant mortality, babies born prematurely or with low birth weights, and other health consequences to both mother and child.

“In contrast, women who are able to work throughout their pregnancies with minor accommodations are often able to take longer leave after their children are born, giving them greater opportunity to bond with their children, breastfeed, and make a healthy, full recovery from childbirth.

“Reasonable accommodations are essential to all workers, including the low-income women most likely to work at physically demanding jobs who also happen to be the least able to bargain for better conditions on an individual basis.

“In our state, we already ask employers to make available short term accommodations for those who have been injured on the job, ensuring employees can make ends meet as they recover and stay connected to their workplace. We should expect no less for those workers who are pregnant and in need of temporary accommodations.

“The Pregnant Worker Fairness Act will mean better outcomes for women, children and families across Washington state, and that’s why I’m proud to sponsor this bill. I invite my all colleagues in the Senate to join me in sponsoring this needed legislation.”