Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: What expectant mothers need to know

Written by The Likely Voter

July 27, 2023

Employees experiencing pregnancy and recent childbirth now have additional protection in the workplace, thanks to the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which went into effect on June 27 of this year. Here’s a quick breakdown of what expectant mothers can expect under the new protections. 

Reasonable accommodations  

Pregnant and postpartum women at a workplace of 15 or more employees will be covered by the PWFA accommodations, which require employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” as long as it doesn’t incur “undue hardship” to the business. Prior to the new law, women were only protected against general pregnancy discrimination and if their physical conditions during or after pregnancy rose to the qualification of disability. 

The ADA defines reasonable accommodations as “a modification or adjustment to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done during the hiring process” and undue hardship as “an action requiring significant difficulty or expense.” 

The employer must engage in good faith 

Employers must now provide reasonable accommodations “even when an eligible employee cannot perform the basic functions of their job, as long as that performance limitation is temporary.” 

“The employer is now required to engage in conversation with the employee to create a good-faith arrangement,” Sutherland’s family policy fellow, Krisana Finlay, said in a recent interview. 

The employer cannot force the employee to go on leave 

Employee leave is still an option, but it’s up to the employee. 

“Leave is the last resort unless that is the communicated preference of the employee,” Finlay wrote in her recent FAQ on this topic. 

Instead, other reasonable accommodation must be considered. If the employee requests or makes use of the accommodations, the PWFA prohibits the employer from retaliating through things like intimidation, threats or coercion.

For a more in-depth perspective on this article, read our Insights piece here.

Takeaways: the most important things voters need to know. For civically engaged citizens.  

  • The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act went into effect on June 27, 2023.
  • The Act is a sweeping piece of legislation that improves protections for expectant and postpartum mothers.
  • Employers are now required to create a good-faith arrangement with these workers.

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