Policies that support working women and families are often not only a matter of economic justice, but also an urgent matter of public health. On National Women’s Health Day, here are four federal policies we must pass to ensure the health of working women and their families.
1. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Across the country, too many women are suffering health consequences due to being denied medically necessary, reasonable pregnancy accommodations like breaks to drink water or lighter lifting duty. Being forced to work without these accommodations can result in injury, illness, and even miscarriage. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would put a stop to this health crisis by ensuring all pregnant workers in the U.S. have the right to reasonable accommodations when they need them.
2. The FAMILY Act. When women are forced to return to work too soon after welcoming a new child, their health can suffer. The FAMILY Act would give workers nationwide the right to take 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, including time to recover from childbirth and bond with a new child. Studies show paid family leave improves both maternal and child health outcomes.
3. The Healthy Families Act. Paid sick time is a public health imperative: when workers are forced to attend work while sick, not only does their own health suffer, but sickness can spread. Women, in particular, are more likely than men to care for ill or injured family members, especially children. Nearly 40 percent of mothers say they are solely responsible for staying home from work with sick children, compared with only 3 percent of fathers. The Healthy Families Act would allow workers everywhere to earn up to seven days of paid sick time.
4. The BE HEARD Act. Sexual harassment affects workers in every industry, and can have lasting health repercussions for women, increasing the risk of anxiety, depression, and poor sleep. The Be HEARD Act would make it easier for victims of harassment to pursue justice and create safeguards to prevent sexual harassment from happening in the first place.