House Democrats Stand Up for Pregnant Workers
Bill to Make Reasonable Accommodations to Keep Employees on Job Passes Committee
Santa Fe, NM - Democrats on Friday passed out of committee groundbreaking legislation that would promote healthy pregnancies in New Mexico while keeping pregnant workers on the job. Under HB 179, these employees could continue earning a living and helping to grow our state’s economy by having employers make reasonable workplace accommodations—such as allowing extra bathroom breaks—for women during pregnancy.
“We know that supporting workers with reasonable accommodations during pregnancy is not only good for women and their families, but it’s also good for business,” said Rep. Gail Chasey (D-Albuquerque), the lead sponsor of HB 179, The Pregnant Worker Accommodation Act. “With simple, reasonable accommodations, a pregnant preschool teacher I hired when I was the director of an early childhood program was able not only to work through her pregnancy, but she also stayed on for many years becoming one of our most valuable employees and saving us the cost of hiring and training a new teacher.”
HB 179, which passed the House Health and Human Services Committee with a 4-3 vote, requires businesses to make “reasonable accommodations” that don’t present an “undue burden” to the business in order to keep pregnant workers on the job.
“Our economy is stronger when our workforce is stable,” said bill co-sponsor Rep. Joanne Ferrary (D-Las Cruces), “and babies are healthier when moms don’t have to worry about maintaining the income they need to support their family and—in many cases—keep the health insurance that provides them with access to quality prenatal care.”
Rep. Debbie Armstrong (D-Albuquerque), the bill’s third sponsor, underscored the importance of healthy pregnancies.
“Healthy moms have healthy babies,” Rep. Armstrong said. “It’s that simple. And healthy babies mean fewer missed days of work for parents and higher productivity for businesses. In New Mexico, we value family. This bill gives new support and security to young, working families.”
Joining the Democratic sponsors in support of the bill Friday were representatives from the Southwest Women’s Law Center, Strong Families New Mexico and Communications Workers of America Local 7076.
HB 179 now heads to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.