The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) is a new law that applies to employers with at least 15 employees. The PWFA became effective on June 27, 2023, and its goal is to help ensure pregnant and postpartum employees can retain their jobs
The PWFA requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to a qualified employee’s or applicant’s known limitations related to, affected by, or arising out of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless providing such an accommodation creates and undue hardship on business. This reasonable accommodation standard is similar to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Unlike the ADA, however, the PWFA considers employees qualified for a position even if they cannot perform an essential function of the position today – as long as the employee will be able to perform the essential function in the “near future.” The near future is defined as about 40 weeks, i.e., the typical length of a full-term pregnancy.
On August 11, 2023, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published edits to proposed regulations providing guidance on how to interpret the PWFA. The proposed regulations include a list of pregnancy- and childbirth-related conditions that employers may need to consider accommodating, including endometriosis, infertility and fertility treatments, miscarriage, and postpartum depression. The proposed regulations also include examples of reasonable accommodations that employers may find helpful, such as reduced schedules, assigned parking, light duty, temporary leave, and allowing employees to work while seated.
Interested parties, including employers and members of the public, may submit comments on the proposed regulations during the comment period, which is open now and ends on October 10, 2023. After the comment period, the regulations will be finalized.
While the EEOC’s regulations have not yet been finalized, the PWFA is already in effect. As such, employers may want to review their pregnancy and accommodation-related policies and practices now to ensure they are compliant with the pending regulations.
If you have questions on the PWFA, PLG and its Employment Law team is always available to assist. Contact Amanda Couture at email@example.com.