Letter to Congress: Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
ZERO TO THREE, with more than 30 national partners, delivered a letter to every Member of Congress to urge them to support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. This legislation promotes healthy pregnancies, which are the critical first step in helping babies to grow, thrive, and reach their optimal potential.
RE: Co-Sponsor the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2654/ S. 1512)
Dear Member of Congress:
As organizations committed to policies promoting healthy moms and ensuring that all babies have a strong start in life, we urge you to support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2654/ S. 1512). This legislation promotes healthy pregnancies, which are the critical first step in helping babies to grow, thrive, and reach their optimal potential.
Today, more pregnant women are in the workforce than ever before, and they are working later into their pregnancies. Supporting working women in maintaining healthy pregnancies is critical to reducing premature births and infant mortality, and lays a strong foundation for a baby’s long-term development. Some women—especially those in physically demanding jobs—will have a medical need for a temporary, job-related accommodation, such as assistance with heavy lifting or additional bathroom breaks, in order to maintain a healthy pregnancy. Yet, often, employers will refuse to provide the pregnant worker with the necessary accommodation, leaving her to choose between protecting her job or her health and the health of her baby.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act strengthens pregnant women’s ability to maintain healthy pregnancies and benefits their future children.
Refusal to provide pregnant workers with a reasonable accommodation can have real consequences for infants’ health, starting at birth and following them throughout life. Research suggests that stress during pregnancy, such as that which arises from losing a job and income, is associated with poor birth outcomes, including prematurity and low birth weight. Low birthweight increases the risk of infant mortality, as well as the risk of longterm disability and serious health problems.
When women do not have access to reasonable accommodations during pregnancy, they can be forced to take leave from their jobs, depleting their paid disability and sick leave even before the birth of their child. Consequently, these new mothers often must return to work immediately after birth, stripping them of the time necessary to recover from child birth, facilitate breastfeeding, and bond with their new child. These earliest experiences are critical to a baby’s healthy development, laying the foundation for their future health and success in school. Denying pregnant workers reasonable accommodations in the face of their medical needs can have life-long consequences for both women and their children.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act strengthens pregnant women’s ability to maintain healthy pregnancies and benefits their future children. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will provide employers and pregnant workers with a clear, predictable rule: employers must provide reasonable accommodations for limitations arising out of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless this would pose an undue hardship. States and cities that have adopted laws similar to the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act demonstrate that providing this clarity helps ensure women can obtain necessary reasonable accommodations in a timely manner, protecting their health and providing their children with a healthy start in life.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would ensure that no woman is forced to choose between maintaining a health pregnancy and providing for her family. We urge you to co-sponsor the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and ensure its speedy adoption in this Congress. We welcome the opportunity to provide you with additional information.
ZERO TO THREE
Alliance for Strong Families and Communities
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations
Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Child Care Aware of America
Children’s Defense Fund
Children’s Dental Health Project
Children’s Leadership Council
Every Child Matters
Family Values @ Work
First Focus Campaign for Children
Labor Project for Working Families
Make it Work
National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund
National WIC Association
Parents as Teachers
Partnership for America’s Children
Prevent Child Abuse America/Healthy Families America
Restaurant Opportunities Centers United
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
UltraViolet Education Fund
9to5, National Association of Working Women
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Comments of Matthew Melmed, Executive Director, ZERO TO THREE Submitted to the Chairman, Committee on Education and the Workforce U.S. House of Representatives June 1, 2015