September 23, 2019

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Washington Stands (or Sits!) with Pregnant Workers by Passing Healthy Starts Act

4/12/2017

 

The Washington State Legislature unanimously passed the Healthy Starts Act!

 

This groundbreaking law will protect pregnant workers' economic security and move Washington closer to ending maternal health disparities. After more than two years of advocacy, we are beyond thrilled that this issue received the bipartisan support it deserved.

 

While it has long been unlawful to discriminate against workers because of pregnancy, unfortunately workers still lose their jobs because their employers refuse to accommodate things they need to protect their health during pregnancy. These accommodations are often small, like extra rest breaks, sitting instead of standing, or temporary lifting restrictions. The Healthy Starts Act protects the health of pregnant workers - and helps them keep their jobs - by requiring employers to make these kinds of common-sense accommodations for their employees.

 

The law also provides for improved childbirth practices and creates the Healthy Pregnancy Advisory Committee, a group tasked with developing strategies to promote maternal and child health. Like other states, Washington has shocking rates of maternal and infant health disparities. Native American and Black Washingtonians are more than twice as likely to experience premature birth and suffer pregnancy loss. The new advisory committee, made up of community members and advocates, will have a voice in finding innovative policies to respond to this unacceptable health disparity.

 

Legal Voice is grateful for the broad coalition that advocated for passage of this law, and for the critical advocacy of legislative sponsors Senator Karen Keiser and Representative Jessyn Farrell.

 

Please join us in thanking Senator Keiser and Representative Farrell for their leadership in promoting healthy pregnancies and working to end maternal health disparities.

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