The bipartisan bill prohibits workplace and hiring discrimination related to pregnancy and nursing, and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for expectant and new mothers in the workplace. This includes giving them access to less strenuous workloads, modified work schedules, more frequent or longer paid or unpaid breaks, time off with or without pay and access to private nursing space that isn't a bathroom.
The legislation is intended to close the gap for women who may not be protected under The Family Medical and Leave Act or the Affordable Care Act. FMLA allows pregnant women and new moms to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, while the ACA requires employers to provide reasonable time and space for nursing moms to pump. But both laws only apply to organizations with 50 or more employees. The new protections in Massachusetts will apply to all employers of six or more.
“This bipartisan legislation extends critical protections to women in the workplace and I thank the Legislature for their collaboration with advocates from both the women’s health and business communities,” said Gov. Baker. “These provisions are important to expectant and working moms supporting their families and raising healthy children.”
Lawmakers also expressed thanks to the many moms who bravely came forward to share their stories and support the bill as it made its way to the governor’s desk.
“As a working mom, I know how important it is to balance job responsibilities and family life to support our kids,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. “Ensuring women in the workplace raising their children have access to these protections is important to the strength and safety of our economy, families and communities.”
We couldn’t agree more! The legislation will go into effect on April 1, 2018. Let’s hope other states take note.
This article was originally published on Working Mother.