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Image of the South Carolina State House
South Carolina State House; image courtesy of Nikopoley via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org

A new state law recently passed in South Carolina has many expectant and new mothers cheering. Why? Well, according to the new law named the SC Pregnancy Accommodations Act, they will now have the right to “special working conditions on the job.” The overall goal of the new law is to help eliminate workplace discrimination that far too many pregnant women and new moms face while trying to do their jobs. Additionally, many doctors who support the new law hope it will make things like “breastfeeding more comfortable in the work environment.”

When commenting on breastfeeding in the workplace, OB/GYN Dr. Sherri Taylor, MD FACOG, said, “There’s still a lot of stigmas associated with breastfeeding and a lot of workplaces don’t have accommodations for moms, and a lot of moms nowadays are working.”

Dr. Taylor also chimed in on how new and expectant moms often feel as though they can’t follow instructions from their doctors for fear of a backlash in the workplace, whether those recommendations include taking more breaks, standing less, or not doing any heavy lifting. She said, “A lot of times we give them recommendations and quite honestly, the patient is stuck between a rock and a hard place because they can’t necessarily follow them because their employer doesn’t have any incentive to.”

Image of expectant parents
Expectant parents; image courtesy of megan lynette via Unsplash, https://unsplash.com

So what exactly will be offered or required under the law? For starters, it will require “bosses of expectant mothers and new moms to allow more and longer work breaks for breastfeeding and to provide a space for it, and the ability to sit on a job where standing is common to keep employees from heavy lifting, and more.” Additionally, employers also won’t be able to refuse to hire pregnant women or deny them advancement opportunities on the job. They also won’t be able to “punish them for needing certain accommodations while pregnant.”

Many women’s rights activists are also excited about the new law because it will hopefully make it easier for women to remain in the workforce even after having children. Eme Crawford, the Communications Director for Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN) said, “it’s good to have safeguards like this in place so- that take into account that women can get pregnant and that if they do get pregnant, that they can continue to work.”

Samantha Bouknight is one of the many women excited about the law and said:

“I’ve seen far too many women struggle with finding adequate time to schedule required prenatal appointments and be forced to take early Family Medical Leave Act due to the temporary limitations of pregnancy. This puts stress on parents financially, emotionally, and physically, and also puts added work onto those trying to find replacement employees or shuffle around shift changes. Myriad studies have reported better workplace environments and better-quality output when soon-to-be and new parents’ circumstances are respected. I truly hope to see those positive outcomes throughout South Carolina and the companies who embrace this act to flourish exponentially.”

Sources:

Expecting mothers in South Carolina now have a law that protects them from workplace discrimination

New S.C. Law Adds Pregnancy and Childbirth Accommodation Requirements

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