The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) took effect on June 27, 2023 and applies to employers with 15 or more employees. The purpose of the PWFA is to fill in the pregnancy protection gaps that remain despite the numerous existing laws. The PWFA requires employers to consider employee and applicant accommodation requests related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions the same way it has considered requests for accommodation related to disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The PWFA does not replace federal, state, or local laws that are more protective of workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
However, the employee does not need to have a disability as defined by the ADA in order to be eligible for an accommodation under the PWFA. The PWFA introduces the concept of “known limitations” associated with pregnancy and childbirth and requires reasonable accommodations for such limitations. Workers with normal, uncomplicated pregnancies, for example, may experience pregnancy-related limitations that are covered under the PWFA. The term “known limitations” means physical or mental conditions related to, affected by, or arising out of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions that the employee or employee’s representative has communicated to the employer whether or not such conditions meet the definition of disability.
Reasonable accommodations are changes to the work environment or the way things are usually done at work. Examples:
- The ability to sit or drink water, and/or have food or water at the workstation
- Utilize a closer parking spot
- Work flexible hours, or possibly work remotely
- Receive appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel
- Take additional break time to use the bathroom, eat, and rest
- Take leave or time off to recover from childbirth
- Be excused from strenuous activities and/or activities that involve exposure to chemicals not safe for pregnancy.
An employer can not deny a job or other employment opportunities to a qualified employee or applicant based on the person’s need for reasonable accommodations, also an employer can not require an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided that would let the employee keep working.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has provided extensive information on their website for employers and workplaces to clearly define the new law. To learn more, please visit the link below:
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is issuing a proposed rule to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Comments regarding this proposal must be received by the Commission on or before October 10, 2023.
Abel Personnel recommends that you continue to follow us on this topic as we monitor all updates. As covered employers navigate these new accommodation requirements, Abel Personnel can assist with all aspects of preparing for and maintaining compliance under the new law.