State legislation that would guarantee the right to reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers is awaiting Gov. Pat Quinn's signature after passing through the state legislature Wednesday.
The measure, HB 8, would ensure that "pregnant women can receive the same types of reasonable accommodations, such as a stool to sit on or the right to carry a bottle of water, that employers already provide for other workers who require temporary adjustments for their health," according to a statement from the Chicago-based organization Women Employed, a group that helped develop the bill. "These accommodations can keep women from having to choose between a healthy pregnancy and supporting their families."
The House back in April initially voted 65-36 to approve the so-called "pregnancy fairness" bill. The measure was later tweaked in the Senate, which signed off on the bill by a 57-0 vote last week. The House unanimously approved the Senate's version of the bill on Wednesday. Gov. Pat Quinn has said he intends to sign the legislation, which would take effect January 1, 2015.
Here's more from Women Employed's statement in light of the bill's passage in the legislature:
Women such as Rosaura Villanueva, a former warehouse worker, are all too aware that pregnant workers still face discrimination in the workplace. 'I was pregnant at my job and my supervisor told me ‘quit your job or lose your baby.’ I know first-hand how important this new law is for pregnant workers.'
Like Villanueva, most women will become pregnant during their careers. In Illinois, women of childbearing age make up 54% of the workforce, and two-thirds of American women work during their pregnancy. Many of these women are working to support themselves and their families; women are the primary breadwinners in 41% of American families and either primary or co-breadwinners in 64% of families, and most women will become pregnant during their careers. This legislation will help both the women it protects and the families who rely on their paychecks.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn applauded this step forward in working women’s rights.
'This is a landmark bill that will end a common but often overlooked form of workplace discrimination and make Illinois a better place for our moms-to-be,' declared Governor Quinn. 'I commend Women Employed for their hard work to pass this important legislation. I look forward to signing it and continuing the progress we’ve made to protect and empower women in Illinois.'
Women Employed worked along with coalition partners such as the ACLU of Illinois and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law to help draft the bill and convince legislators that such a law is vital for both pregnant workers and the families who rely on their paychecks.
'This is a great victory for working women,' said Melissa Josephs, WE Director of Equal Opportunity Policy. 'We’re proud to be setting an example in Illinois for the kind of legislation that we hope will pass at the federal level in the form of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Our dream is to guarantee these basic protections for all pregnant workers in the United States, and this is a great step toward that dream.'