New Illinois law protects pregnant workers from workplace injury
Correcting an imbalance in the workplace
More working mothers than ever before are facing difficulties on the job. According to a study carried out by the National Women’s Law Center and reported by the Illinois Government News Network, almost three out of every five pregnant workers continue to work full-time or part-time into the last month of their pregnancy. Discrimination cases involving pregnancy have nearly doubled in the past two decades, but federal law has not changed to add more protection for pregnant or nursing women. The new Illinois law, also known as House Bill 8, is intended to redress this imbalance.
Basics of House Bill 8
House Bill 8 is an amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act. The amendment is effective as of January 1, 2015. It forbids discrimination in the workplace on the basis of pregnancy. It builds on existing accessibility laws by defining pregnancy as a temporary disability that may call for special arrangements in some cases. Employers must make all reasonable accommodations requested by a pregnant or nursing woman.
What are reasonable accommodations?
According to House Bill 8, reasonable accommodations for a pregnant worker (or a worker who has recently given birth) include all of the following:
- More frequent or longer rest breaks
- Safe locations for breastfeeding
- Modified seating arrangements
- Additional protection against workplace accidents and physical hazards
- Postponement of training during the pregnancy and post-partum period
Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers can name many situations in which these accommodations make an ongoing career possible for new mothers.
Projected effects of House Bill 8
This new legislation will likely have a wide range of effects for working women in Illinois, especially those who are the chief breadwinners for their families. Single mothers are projected to enjoy a higher level of stability in their careers. Low-income women, who traditionally face the highest risks while pregnant on the job, are also likely to benefit from House Bill 8.
Pregnant workers in the state of Illinois have new rights as of January 2015. Women who would like to learn about their options may wish to consider speaking with Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers for more information.