Back in April, Governor Matt Bevin signed Senate Bill 18, known as the Kentucky Pregnant Workers Act, into effect. This new law amends the Kentucky Civil Rights Act to further clarify how employers with at least 15 employees should accommodate workers that are expecting soon. Employers are also required to provide notices of this new law to their workers starting on June 27.
This law could not arrive at a better time of the year. Summer can be one of the most difficult times of the year to work for employees that are in shape, so imagine how much harder it is for female workers that are carrying a child. Employees should understand their rights under this new law and what risks they face as the temperatures start increasing.
It's not fun under the sun
Pregnant women are at an increased risk of suffering from dehydration compared to the average worker and require a lot more fluids. Aside from the standard side effects such as dizziness or lightheadedness, they may also suffer from uterus contractions and low blood pressure, which could potentially lead into preterm births, stillbirths and low birth weights.
Even female workers that are in the early stages of pregnancy can still experience heavy consequences. If they suffer from hyperthermia caused by higher body temperatures under the sun, the risk of major birth defects dramatically increases. A study that analyzes these risks concludes that pregnant women should count as a subgroup for extra precautions during heat advisory warnings.
What employers should provide
Senate Bill 18 makes it unlawful for employers to fail at accommodating pregnant workers. If the expecting employee operates frequently outside with a physically demanding job, employers should recognize the risk that Kentucky’s hot summers present to them. The worker shouldn’t be afraid to show their doctor’s note to the boss so they can carry more water with them outside, take more breaks than usual or transfer to an indoor position that requires less physical work.
Since the Kentucky Pregnant Workers Act is a new law, it might take some time for many employers to adapt it into their system. If your boss isn’t taking any extra steps to ensure your safety during this vulnerable period of your life, speak with an employment attorney to exercise your rights.