Pregnant workers and new parents employed by state government agencies, including the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, are entitled to reasonable adjustments to their working conditions or hours to accommodate medical needs relating to pregnancy.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has signed an executive order directing state agencies to implement pregnancy accommodations that don’t impose an undue hardship on the agency as part of an effort to reduce the chances of preterm birth, promote worker retention and increase employee morale.

The order includes a non-exhaustive list of possible accommodations, such as more frequent or longer breaks, unpaid time off work, equipment or uniform modifications, seating or permission to stand, transfer to a less hazardous assignment, light duty, private space and extra time for expressing breast milk, assistance with physical labor, and modified work schedules.

“While state agencies already make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees, outlining expectations regarding this topic in this executive order provides greater clarity for both agency leadership and agency employees,” Holcomb said.

“It is not only important, but fair, to delineate clearly, and an in accessible manner, reasonable accommodations that can be implemented without undue hardship. I also want to encourage pregnant state employees to seek reasonable accommodations, and we want to guide agency management into implementing the appropriate accommodations.”

The governor’s order requiring pregnancy accommodations does not apply to Indiana local government or school employees.

A separate, Holcomb-driven attempt to guarantee pregnancy accommodations to all Hoosier workers, in both the public and private sectors, was watered down to practically nothing this year by the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

House Enrolled Act 1309, signed into law Tuesday, authorizes pregnant workers to ask their employers, in writing, for accommodations, and obligates the employer to respond “within a reasonable time.”

However, the law does not in any way require the employer to actually provide any type of accommodation. It merely prevents the employer from retaliating against the worker for making the request.

State Rep. Maureen Bauer, D-South Bend, said the new law fails to protect pregnant Hoosiers.

"Welcoming women in the workforce also means supporting women who choose to be mothers," Bauer said. "Pregnant Hoosiers are made to feel expendable in the workplace when an employer is unwilling to prioritize a worker's health and safety, forcing her to choose between a paycheck and her well-being.”

But the governor insisted it's good enough for now.

“While I have pushed for different language to become law in each of the last two sessions, I agree with members from both sides of the aisle that voted in favor of the bill as a step forward in assisting pregnant women in the workforce,” Holcomb said.

“I’ll always be looking for ways to continue making progress on this and every other front when it comes to removing barriers in the workplace.”
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