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What’s next for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act?

Photo: MaxRiesgo/iStockphoto

Washington — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is asking for comment on how it intends to interpret and implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

The act was signed into law Dec. 29 by President Joe Biden and went into effect June 27. It requires employers with 15 or more employees to extend “reasonable accommodations” to workers experiencing pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. They can include additional bathroom breaks, a water bottle at a workstation, light duty and assistance with manual labor.

In a proposed rule – expected to be published on Aug. 11 – EEOC details some of the terms used in the act, such as “temporary,” “essential functions” and “communicated to the employer.” The proposal includes various examples of possible reasonable accommodations and requests input on additional examples in different workplace situations.

EEOC is also asking for comment and information on existing data that quantifies the proportion of pregnant workers who need accommodations, along with data on the average cost of pregnancy-related accommodations. The deadline to comment is Oct. 10.

EEOC, which enforces the act, is required to issue regulations to implement the law by Dec. 29. It already is accepting charges of discrimination under the act.

The commission said it will continue to update its What You Should Know About the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act webpage for workers and employers.

The PWFA was discussed during a recent episode of Safety+Health’s “On the Safe Side” podcast.

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