Bill to accommodate pregnant, breastfeeding mothers in workplace

Sioux Falls, S.D. - Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers may soon have better protections and accommodations where they work thanks to a bill making its way through the South Dakota Legislature. Most of us want to feel comfortable in our workplace, but that's not always the case for many pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Sponsors and supporters of this bill said it's a step in the right direction for South Dakota.

“I think it doesn't matter if you have one employee or 250 or 1000. This should be important to you,” Sioux Falls mom and business owner, Brittany Snyders said.

Longer breaks, private, non-bathroom spaces for breastfeeding, job restructuring, and modified work schedules are just some of the accommodations sought for South Dakota women under House Bill 1153.

“In 41 percent of our families in South Dakota, women are the primary breadwinners and also South Dakota has the highest percentage of working mothers in the country at 84 percent. I think it's a conversation about how we give women the opportunity to participate in the workforce,” South Dakota Senator Billie Sutton said.

“I think that they feel completely unheard. I feel like a lot of women do feel ashamed that they have to ask their employer multiple times maybe for accommodations. That their employer will sometimes shrug it off or tell them that it's not important,” Snyders said.

That feeling is something Senator Sutton hopes to alleviate with this bill.

“You talk to a lot of businesses out there and I think a lot of them are doing it on their own. But, we just want to make sure that if they're not that they should be,” Sutton said.

“It's important for moms. It’s important for kids. It’s important for employers too. So it affects just about everybody in one way or another,” Snyders said.

Senator Sutton said his family knows the importance of these accommodations.

“I have a young son who's a year and 9 months old and my wife is in the workforce. Our local bank has made these types of accommodations. So it's certainly affected my family and I think if you talk to a lot of folks out there, they would say the same thing,” Sutton said.

Senator Sutton said there are some federal guidelines on the books, but this bill would clear them up and take the conversation in the right direction. The bill is scheduled for a hearing with the House Commerce and Energy committee Monday.