Indiana panel backs weaker pregnant worker protections bill

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana legislators have advanced a weakened version of a requirement sought by the governor for workplace accommodations for pregnant women such as longer breaks or transfers to less physical work.

An Indiana House committee on Tuesday endorsed a bill that would require responses from businesses to employees who ask for accommodations but would not mandate meeting any of the requests, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported.

A tougher proposal backed by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb failed in the state Senate last year following opposition from some business groups.

Bill sponsor Republican Rep. Karen Engleman of Georgetown argued her new proposal would be effective because it would lead to employees and employers talking about the requests.

Eva Bell of advocacy group Hoosier Action was among those who said it wouldn’t improve pregnant women’s working conditions. Bell described some businesses refusing stools to sit on or more frequent bathroom breaks.

Holcomb isn’t objecting to the committee-approved proposal.

“While I have pushed for different language to become law in each of the last two sessions, I agree with members from both sides of the aisle that voted in favor of the bill today as a step forward in assisting pregnant women in the workforce,” Holcomb said in statement.