South Carolina has made history by becoming the first Southern state to pass a law that supports the dignity, rights and freedom of women and growing families by preventing discrimination against pregnant workers.
The S.C. Pregnancy Accommodations Act brought together diverse partners to work toward a shared, common goal: promoting the health and well-being of women who are pregnant.
Now, women will no longer have to face the difficult choice of keeping their jobs or maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
The law, which had strong bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, guarantees employees who are pregnant or new mothers reasonable workplace accommodations, which do not pose an undue burden on their employers, and protects them from having to either accept an unwanted accommodation or take a leave of absence when a more appropriate accommodation could be provided.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The State
This law will benefit many families, since 64 percent of women who gave birth in this state last year were employed. Many women can and do continue to work throughout their pregnancies with few or no changes, but some need reasonable accommodations to stay on the job.
This new legal standard was set because the voices for women’s health, rights and dignity were heard.
S.C. women in the workforce now have assurances that they can ask for what they need to maintain a healthy pregnancy without repercussions. They will no longer fear that they will be unwillingly placed on unpaid leave, denied an accommodation as simple like carrying a water bottle while working or terminated as a result of their pregnancy.
Businesses will share in the benefits too. Many accommodations cost little or nothing to employers: allowing more frequent bathroom or food breaks, permitting coworkers to assist with heavy lifting, providing a stool to sit on rather than standing for hours at a time. Such practices reduce workforce turnover, increase employee satisfaction and productivity and save money on workers’ compensation and related costs. By giving women the flexibility to work while they are pregnant or breastfeeding, we are encouraging their continued contribution to the economy while safeguarding a workplace environment that values their well-being.
By joining 22 other states and our nation’s capital in adopting laws that enhance pregnancy accommodations, South Carolina prioritized the rights, dignity and freedom of women and families and became a leader in our region. Finding shared goals among diverse partnerships shows that we can work together to make South Carolina a place where all women and families can thrive.
Ms. Bernstein represents Richland County in the SC House; contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.