The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: What Employers Should Know

What is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)?

The PWFA recently went into law on June 27, 2023. This new law requires covered employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The PWFA amends the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to require reasonable accommodations for a qualified individual’s limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

Under this law, employers with at least fifteen employees must provide reasonable accommodations to workers with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions unless the accommodation will cause the employer an “undue hardship.”


What are “Reasonable Accommodations”?

“Reasonable accommodations” are changes to the work environment. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations unless they would cause an “undue hardship”, which is a significant difficulty or expense for employers.

The House Committee on Education and Labor’s report provides several examples of reasonable accommodations, including:

  • The ability to sit or drink water
  • Receive closer parking
  • Have flexible hours
  • Receive appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel
  • Receive additional break time to use the bathroom, eat, and rest
  • Take leave or time off to recover from childbirth
  • Excused from strenuous activities and/or activities that involve exposure to compounds not safe for pregnancy


Should I Worry About the PWFA?

Employers should act in response to this new law to avoid the risk of fines or lawsuits. Review your existing policies, and if needed, revise to meet the PWFA requirements. Train your managers and HR staff so they know how to respond to PWFA accommodation requests.

While the PWFA applies only to accommodations, there are other existing laws that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces to protect employees and job applicants who are pregnant. Employers should review policies and procedures to ensure compliance with Title VII, The ADA, The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, and The PUMP Act.


Key Takeaways

Pregnancy discrimination is against the law. The PWFA does not replace federal, state, or local laws that are more protective of workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. More than thirty states and cities have laws that provide accommodations for pregnant workers. Visit the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website for more details.

In addition to the PWFA, there are federal and state regulations that apply to every organization. Contact us at info@trewhr.com if you have questions or concerns about keeping your business compliant. We will ensure your organization is ready to handle new laws and regulations.

At TREW, our certified HR consultants identify if businesses are compliant with relevant labor laws.  We conduct compliance audits and work side-by-side with managers or HR staff to implement changes. TREW ensures handbooks, internal bylaws, personnel changes, and conflict management processes are compliant and will not become a liability.

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