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Oh Baby! What Employers Need to Know About The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

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It’s time for employers to review their handbook again. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), signed into law on Dec. 29, 2022, is in effect as of June 27, 2023. Under this law, employers with at least 15 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 exactly is the PWFA?

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. This law only applies to accommodations since existing laws the EEOC enforces make it illegal to terminate or otherwise discriminate against workers because of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. The PWFA does not replace federal, state or local laws that are more protective of workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. Currently, more than 30 states and localities have laws providing accommodations for pregnant workers. Covered employers cannot:

  • Require an employee to accept an accommodation without a discussion between the worker and the employer about the accommodation.
  • Deny a job or other employment opportunities to a qualified employee or applicant based on the person’s need for reasonable accommodation.
  • Require an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided that would let the employee keep working.

WHO DOES THE PREGNANT WORKERS FAIRNESS ACT PROTECT?

The PWFA protects employees and applications of covered employers who have known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth or other related medical conditions. Covered employers include private- and public-sector employers with at least 15 employees, including federal agencies, employment agencies and labor organizations.

What do employers need to do?

Since the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will accept PWFA complaints on the day the law becomes effective, it’s vital to review and become familiar with the law. Employers will have to review their existing accommodation policies and revise them according to the PWFA’s requirements. Employers are encouraged to train all managers on the new changes to help prevent employees from filing with the EEOC.

HAVE AN HR QUESTION? GET ANSWERS TODAY!

The Manufacturer & Business Association (MBA) knows that urgent employment law issues can arise at a moment’s notice. As a member, you can call our certified HR specialists and labor and employment law attorney anytime, at no charge for counsel on a broad range of workplace-related issues including:

  • Hiring and firing practices
  • Company policies
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Employment law
  • Employment agreements
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Affirmative Action Plans
  • Unemployment compensation claims
  • Employee handbook policies
  • OSHA compliance
  • Sexual harassment
  • Family Medical Leave Act
  • COBRA
  • Americans with Disabilities Act

For more information about PWFA, contact the MBA’s HR Legal Services Division at 814/833-3200, 800/815-2660 or visit mbausa.org.

Rachel Tserkovniak, SPHR is an HR consultant and trainer at the Manufacturer & Business Association. Contact her at 814/833-3200, 800/815-2660 or rtserkovniak@mbausa.org.