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Advancing Workers’ Rights Is Critical To Addressing The Maternal Health Crisis

Advancing Workers’ Rights is Critical to Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis

The U.S. is facing a maternal and infant health crisis—one that is disproportionately impacting Black women and women of color—as highlighted in a recent Congressional hearing. Although this problem and its solutions are multifaceted, one key piece to addressing this crisis is the need to ensure our workplaces are safe and supportive environments for pregnant workers and mothers.

Unfortunately, the reality is that too many pregnant workers and new mothers are forced to risk their health at work—especially those women in low-wage and physically demanding jobs, who are largely women of color. We have heard from hundreds of women across the country whose employers either fired or forced them onto unpaid leave when they requested modest, temporary job adjustments to remain healthy, or when they needed access to break time and space to express milk at work. 

These four bills would help protect the health of pregnant workers and mothers across the country:

  1. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would guarantee pregnant workers the right to reasonable pregnancy accommodations when they need them, like a water bottle, stool, or extra breaks. This will allow them to stay working while following their doctor’s orders.
  2. The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act would increase critical protections for nursing parents, ensuring millions of workers have a clear right to the time and space they need to pump breastmilk at work. 
  3. The FAMILY Act would guarantee workers 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave—time new mothers often need to care for their own health.
  4. The Healthy Families Act would guarantee workers a right to seven days of paid sick time, allowing workers may be pregnant or recently welcomed a new child to address their pre-or post-natal medical needs, such as attending prenatal appointments or infant checkups. 

It is time for Congress to take action on the maternal health crisis, which is inseparable from how we treat our nation’s workers. Read our full statement submitted to the House Committee on Education and Labor for “Expecting More: Addressing America’s Maternal and Infant Health Crisis.” 

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