How the New Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Will Protect Working Parents
Less than two months after the groundbreaking Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act went into effect, parents have another reason to celebrate. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), officially goes into effect today, June 27 and provides increased protections for working parents and parents-to-be.
Below we share what you need to know about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, how it can protect you along your pregnancy and parenting journey.
What is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act?
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) provides workers the right to “reasonable accommodations” to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions unless the accommodation will cause the employer an “undue hardship.”
The act has been described by the national family advocacy organization ParentsTogether as “one of biggest wins for expecting and new parents in the workplace in decades” alongside the PUMP ACT. “The law will make it easier for millions of working parents to keep their jobs and livelihoods during these crucial transitions in life,” the organization stated in a release.
ParentsTogether cites stories from real parents-to-be whose lives could be changed with the enforcement and protections of the PWFA. From Kassidey Grober, a mom from Medford, Oregon, who faced incredible challenges and almost lost her job trying to get workplace accommodations for her high risk pregnancy to Tasha Barnes, a mom from Billings, Montana, who has struggled to receive workplace accommodations such as breaks to pump or adequate time to recover from a medical surgery required for her pregnancy.
How The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Protects Parents-to-Be
When the PWFA takes effect, most workers will have new rights to reasonable accommodations, or temporary changes at work, during or after pregnancy.
Examples of these ‘reasonable accommodations’ include:
- Flexible scheduling for prenatal or postnatal appointments
- Additional, longer, or more flexible breaks to drink water, eat, rest, or use the bathroom
- Temporary transfer to a less physically demanding or safer position
- Limiting exposure to hazardous chemicals
- Leave or time off to recover from childbirth, even if you don’t qualify for the FMLA
- Leave or time off for bedrest, recovery from miscarriage, postpartum depression, mastitis, and other pregnancy-related health issues
- Changing a uniform or dress code, like allowing wearing maternity pants
- Changing a work schedule, like allowing shorter work hours or a later start time to accommodate morning sickness
- Remote work or telework
Under the law employers cannot:
- Require an employee to accept an accommodation without a discussion
- Deny a job or other employment opportunities to a qualified employee or applicant based on the person’s need for a reasonable accommodation
- Require an employee to take leave if a reasonable accommodation can be provided that would let the employee keep working
- Retaliate against an individual for reporting or opposing unlawful discrimination under the act
What to Do If You Believe Your Company Isn’t Respecting Your Rights
If you have made a request for accommodations and believe that your workplace is not in compliance with the PWFA, you can report the violation of your rights to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission here.
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