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The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) is a federal law that requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.
The law was passed in December 2022, and went into effect on June 27, 2023. It was modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which has been in place for over 30 years. What makes the PWFA different? It specifically focuses on pregnancy related accommodations!
Who does the law apply to?
The law generally applies to all employers who are required to comply with anti-discrimination laws. This includes private, state and local governments with 15 or more employees as well as employment agencies, Congress, federal agencies, and labor organizations.
What is covered?
The law covers accommodations needed for medical conditions related to pregnancy and postpartum. This can include fertility treatments, morning sickness, gestational diabetes, pregnancy loss, lactation, postpartum depression, conditions including mastitis (an infection of the breast tissue that may occur when breastfeeding), and more.
What accommodations might be needed?
Most requests are simple and foster a win-win for the employer and employee. Examples of accommodations could be providing a pregnant worker a stool to sit on, more frequent bathroom breaks or temporary excusal from mandatory overtime. Providing a safe and private location for pumping is another example. Many creative solutions can be implemented to ensure the pregnant person is able to continue working safely and comfortably. The Center for WorkLife Law has a wonderful Guide that can be helpful in identifying solutions.
What is the difference between the PUMP Act and the PWFA?
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act) were both signed into law in December 2022. The laws support America’s workers in accessing safe and healthy workplaces free from discrimination.
The PUMP Act focuses on accommodations for lactating employees, and the PWFA requires employers to offer “reasonable accommodations” for medical conditions related to the entire period from pregnancy to postpartum recovery.
Where can I find more information?
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Fact Sheet: https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-pregnant-workers-fairness-act
Comprehensive Lactation Program Support is available from Healthy Horizons: https://www.healthyhorizons.com/pages/corporate-lactation-services