The Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) is a new law (signed by President Biden on December 29, 2022, under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023) which goes into effect June 27, 2023. PWFA aims to protect pregnant workers from discrimination and ensure that they receive reasonable accommodations in the workplace.
Read on to learn more about PWFA and ensure that you’re prepared when the law takes effect.
How is The Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) Different?
Before the PWFA, the federal law protecting pregnant workers is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. However, the PDA does not require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers, such as allowing them to sit down or take more frequent breaks.
PWFA seeks to address this gap in the law by requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers, unless it would cause undue hardship for the employer. Reasonable accommodations could include things like providing a stool for a pregnant worker to sit on, more frequent restroom breaks, modified duties, or temporary assignments to less strenuous positions.
What Are Other Considerations for Employers?
This new law prohibits employers from forcing pregnant workers to take unpaid leave if they can still perform their job with reasonable accommodations. This is important because many pregnant workers are forced to take leave earlier than necessary, which can have negative financial consequences for them and their families.
Additionally, the PWFA requires employers to provide notice to all employees of their rights under the law, including the right to reasonable accommodations and protection against discrimination.
What Additional Protection Can New Mothers Expect?
The PUMP Act, also signed into law under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, amends the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to provide nursing mothers with reasonable break times and a private space, other than a bathroom, to express milk. The law mandates this for up to one year following the birth of the child, and applies to all employees, except for a few in the transportation industry. Time spent expressing milk is considered “hours worked” under the FLSA, and non-exempt employees must be compensated for their entire break if they are not relieved of duty.
Employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt, but state and local laws may offer similar protections. You should review your policies to ensure compliance and train managers on how to handle requests for pregnancy accommodation.
How Can You Prepare Your Businesses to Comply with the PWFA?
You can prepare by reviewing and updating your policies and procedures related to pregnancy and childbirth accommodations. You should also provide training to managers, human resources and leadership staff on the new requirements, and ensure you are in compliance with the law’s provisions regarding reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers and postpartum mothers who need to pump. It will be helpful to communicate with employees about their rights under the law and establish a clear process for requesting accommodations. Labor posters will need to be replaced with updated information.
How Can Rea Help?
Rea’s HR consultants are taking a proactive approach to help clients prepare for the new legislation by ensuring that requirements are being met, and your business is in compliance ahead of the change. Contact us today to speak with your trusted advisor so they can answer any questions you may have.
by Renee West, SHRM-SCP, PHR (New Philadelphia office)