The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) is a federal law, which requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to a qualified worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an undue hardship. This new statute is very similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which excludes pregnancy alone (absent medical complications) from the definition of disability.
Like the ADA, reasonable accommodations may include modifications to the work environment or job processes. Under both acts, such modifications are not required where they cause significant difficulty or expense.
Reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers may include:
- Additional, longer, or more flexible breaks to sit and rest, eat, drink water, use the restroom, or for lactation needs/demands;
- Transfer to a less physically demanding position, lighter duty, or help with manual labor and lifting;
- Reduced/eliminated exposure to unsafe chemicals;
- Accessible parking;
- Modification of working facilities, such as relocating a workstation closer to the restroom;
- Flexible working hours for prenatal or postnatal appointments, or a later start time to accommodate morning sickness;
- Changes to uniforms or safety apparel, such as providing different sizes or allowing maternity clothing;
- Changes to equipment, devices, or work stations, such as providing a stool to sit on or adding a lock to a clean meeting room to turn it into a temporary lactation space;
- Remote work or telework; and
- Leave or time off for bed rest, recovery from childbirth, postpartum depression, mastitis, and other pregnancy related medical issues.
The PWFA took effect on June 27, 2023 and will apply to employers with 15 or more employees. As always, CGA Law Firm has a dedicated group of employment attorneys who continuously monitor legal developments to ensure employers are up to date with the latest news. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced employment law attorneys.