Starting June 27, 2023, organizations with 15 or more workers will have some new requirements when it comes to pregnant employees and applicants. The Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) expands and codifies requirements that are already guaranteed under the ADA.
What's New in the Rules
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) employers must already provide accommodations for workers related to pregnancy. The PWFA simply expands worker rights so that an employee's condition no longer needs to rise to the level of disability. This means that all workers are entitled to accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth. They are also entitled to accommodations even if they are not able to perform their job functions on a temporary basis.
These accommodations may include (but aren't limited to):
- modifying your food or drink policies.
- providing seating or letting your employee sit down more frequently if the job typically requires standing.
- providing more breaks, or more frequent breaks.
- observing limits on lifting.
- offering light duty or a modified work schedule.
If reasonable on-the-job accommodations are available, an employer cannot require their employee to take leave. The process for determining reasonable accommodations is the same as the one you use for the ADA. Use an interactive process to ensure that needs are met.
Employers are not required to provide an accommodation if doing so would cause an undue hardship; however, this is a high bar to meet, and is limited to actions involving significant difficulty or expense.
What This Means for Employers
If your employee handbook doesn't already have a pregnancy accommodations policy, be sure to add one. Many companies are subject to state laws providing similar accommodations, in addition to federal law. If this is your situation, be sure your company policy fits the most employee-friendly aspects of any applicable laws.
Educate your managers to be sure they are aware of the law and the types of accommodations you may be required to provide.