Pregnant Workers Fairness Act set to take effect June 27
In previous years many women working in construction in the US would hide their pregnancies for as long they felt they could, which increased the chance of a miscarriage due to a job-site accident. With no paid maternity leave, many pregnant women in construction have been forced to partake in unpaid leave or face potential job loss.
The number of women in construction is growing every year. While there is still a gap in the numbers and pay, the industry is taking big steps to both close the gaps and open doors for opportunities for women in the industry. Whether you desire an administrative position, hands on-in the field, management, etc., the construction field has something for everyone. In many situations, you’re able to begin a thriving career with on the job training or apprenticeships.
Now, new benefits will be available for pregnant construction workers!
Iron Workers Union sets the bar for pregnancy benefits
Currently, the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers provides:
- up to six months (capped at $800 per week)-paid pregnancy leave
- six weeks (or 8 weeks in the case of a Cesarean birth)-paid maternity leave
Paid through an established welfare fund for workers who have suffered a non-work related injury, this benefit can be used once every two years. At the moment, the number of women members, coupled with the number of pregnant members is low enough that the fund is able to handle the cost. Many companies agree, it makes the most sense to retain your trained employees rather than to hire and train a new employee, especially given the cost to train an apprentice to the journey level.
Additional trade unions that are following the Iron Workers Union:
- International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers
- North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters
What’s the Deal
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 required a pregnant woman to be “disabled” to receive accommodations.
Now, the passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, slated to take effect June 27, will close previous gaps and require companies with 15+ employees to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant construction workers. A few possible accommodations:
- more bathroom breaks
- a stool to rest on
- light duty work
- equipment modification
- A private space (not a bathroom) and breaks for lactation;
Introduced in every Congress since 2012, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was signed into law by President Biden, as part of the Omnibus Spending Bill in 2022.
Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), a physician and co-sponsor of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has called the bill “pro-family, pro-mother, pro-baby, pro-employer and pro-economy.”
Help spread this good news across the industry far and wide!
Resource for a pregnant woman in construction who may need assistance in asking for accommodations: https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/23566-pregnant-workers-fairness-act