The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is Here, Is Your Organization Ready?
Author Name: TrainingABC
Posted: 07-25-2023 05:47 AM
Synopsis: At the end of 2022, President Biden signed into law the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to offer additional protections to pregnant workers and new parents. It does not go into effect until June 27, 2023, but that date is quickly approaching, encouraging employers to get educated and prepare to follow the guidelines set out by this law.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness ACT (PWFA) requires qualifying employers – private or public employers with at least 15 employees – to provide reasonable accommodations to workers who are facing limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or another related medical condition. Employers are responsible to comply with these guidelines unless accommodating the employee will cause “undue hardship” to the employer.
Current Pregnancy Protections
Prior to the passage of the PWFA, Title VII and the ADA, which are both enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, offered some limited protections to pregnant workers. Title VII does the following:
- Offers protection against discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
- Declares that employers must treat pregnant workers the same as other workers in the organization.
The ADA offers the following protections:
- Protects employees from disability-based discrimination. Pregnancy-related conditions can be considered a disability in many cases.
- Forces employers to provide accommodations to people with disabilities so long as the accommodations do not cause undue hardship to the organization.
Once the PWFA is finalized at the end of the month, pregnant workers will be able to enjoy more robust protections that are more concrete. Until its effective date, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will consider feedback from the public prior to finalizing the regulations associated with this law.
What are “Reasonable Accommodations?”
Accustomed to the ADA and other existing laws, employers are familiar with many of the accommodations that would be a result of this law. Those accommodations may look like:
- Extending break times to allow pregnant workers to eat, drink, and rest when needed.
- Offering a pregnant worker a designated parking spot that is close to the building.
- Creating a flexible schedule to accommodate doctor’s appointments or pregnancy-related care.
- Excusing pregnant workers from participating in strenuous or labor-intensive activities.
There are many ways to accommodate a pregnant worker; employers will need to work closely with their employees to understand their needs and meet what is reasonable.
Other PWFA Protections
Though accommodations for pregnant workers are one of the main components of the PWFA, there are many other protections it offers. Employers are not allowed to:
- Require an employee to use an accommodation without first discussing the accommodation with the employee.
- Deny job titles or opportunities to a qualified applicant just because they need a reasonable accommodation.
- Force an employee to take leave when a reasonable accommodation can be made that would allow the employee to continue working.
- Retaliate against employees who file complaints under the PWFA or participate in an investigation related to this law.
Arriving Soon: PWFA
Employers have a number of days to prepare for this law’s effective date. Until the end of the month, all complaints will still need to be filed and reviewed through the lens of ADA regulations or Title VII. For complaints filed on or after June 27, 2023, the PWFA will apply.