New guidelines for pregnant women - WNEM TV 5

New guidelines for pregnant women

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MIDLAND, MI (WNEM) -

New federal guidelines were passed to protect pregnant women in the workplace.

The new laws will stiffen penalties against employers who discriminate against pregnant employees.

Heather Fisher is the mother of two and has a full-time job, which is sometimes difficult to juggle.

"This sort of issue you have to look at both sides, not only the woman, who is experiencing the pregnancy, but also the employer," Fisher said.

She is the executive director for the Pregnancy Resource Center of Midland, which offers assistance to mothers-to-be. She said as an employer and a mother she understands both sides of the issue, when it comes to navigating the challenges of motherhood in the workplace.

"In a perfect world, every woman would be able to do all of her job duties and in a perfect world, every employer would be willing to make accommodations where they could," Fisher said.

New expanded federal guidelines are now in place to move in that direction by prohibiting on the job discrimination against pregnant women.

Under the new rules, updated for the first time in more than 30 years, employers would be forbidden from forcing pregnant women to take leave just because they can't perform their regular duties. Employers may also have to provide light duty for pregnant workers.

Lactation is now also covered as a pregnancy-related medical condition, meaning women must be given the time and space to breastfeed or pump.

Men are not left out. Companies must provide the same time off for family leave. 

"Many of the fears we see in women who come here, they are afraid of how they are going to support their  family financially, and so having a little support in knowing that there's some security and that they will be able to perform their jobs, I think that's a really great thing," Fisher said.

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