(Montpelier) – Pregnant workers in Vermont have new legal protections in the workplace this year. As of January 1, 2018, employees experiencing healthy, uncomplicated pregnancies and needing reasonable workplace accommodations, such as rest breaks, a stool to lean or sit on, more frequent bathroom breaks, not lifting over a certain weight, flexible scheduling, or time off for medical appointments, are protected when making those requests, and unless they impose an undue hardship, employers must grant them. Vermont joins twenty-two other states and the District of Columbia in passing similar legislation.
Several state government agencies came together to launch a public communications campaign to help employees and employers know their rights and responsibilities under this new law. The Vermont Commission on Women worked with the Vermont Department of Health, the Civil Rights Unit of the Office of the Vermont Attorney General, and the Vermont Human Rights Commission to create two short and informative videos. This new video duo just premiered on YouTube: Pregnancy-Related Workplace Accommodations for Vermont Employees and Pregnancy-Related Workplace Accommodations for Vermont Employers.
Employers are encouraged to watch and to share these videos with human resources staff. They are easily found using search terms like “Vermont” and “pregnant.” Vermont workers can watch and learn about asking for what they need stay healthy on the job.
“This law provides great benefit to working women. Three-quarters of all women entering the workforce will be pregnant and working at the same time at some point in their lives. Women in Vermont earn only 84% of what men in Vermont earn, and while the reasons for this wage gap are multiple and varied, one critical reason is that women are much more likely to take time off work, to work part-time, or to leave the workforce altogether when their family responsibilities or their pregnancy clash with their work responsibilities,” said Vermont Commission on Women’s executive director, Cary Brown in her testimony for this legislation. “Many women feel that they have no choice when they leave work because of these clashes, and say that they would work more if they could resolve them. Simple workplace accommodations can make the difference between a woman’s ability to stay at work or not.”