Pregnant woman

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Pregnant mothers in Kentucky now have more rights in the workplace.

A new law, which took effect on Thursday, forces employers to give new and expecting moms safer ways to work. Balancing a job and a baby isn't always easy, but Kentucky's Pregnant Workers Act aims to make it a little less demanding on pregnant mothers.

"Being pregnant is enough to have a conversation about the accomodations that you need to stay healthy for you and your child," said Mandy Simpson, director of engagement at Metro United Way.

Metro United Way pushed for the law that calls for "reasonable accommodations" like changing schedules or work duties.

"They include things like potentially a stool to sit on, an extra bottle of water, lighter duty, temporary reassignment (and) a safe place to express breast milk when you return from having your little one," Simpson said.

Workers are now entitled to those arrangements if they request them, as long as it's not too difficult or expensive for the business, which must have at least 15 workers. Similar federal policies already exist, but supporters said  the new law goes further in protecting new and expecting moms from discrimination with its extra clarification.

The law applies to all pregnant mothers, those who recently gave birth or moms with a related medical condition.

"We need them in the workforce," said Kent Oyler, president and CEO of Greater Louisville, Inc.

GLI was a major advocate for the law in Frankfort.

"It allows (workers) to have confidence to stick with their jobs," Oyler said. "Right now, we see people exiting their jobs because they just don't know what's going to happen or they think that perhaps they won't be accommodated."

Supporters sold it to lawmakers as a "business-friendly bill."

"We have 27,000 open jobs in this Louisville region alone. We need everybody participating in the workforce," Oyler said. "We want to make sure that anyone who is going to become a mother or father or has become one can be accommodated in the workforce so they can continue to participate."

For additional resources and legal advice for pregnant mothers, click here.

Copyright 2019 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.