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Pregnant Workers Fairness Act set to go into effect June 18

Photo: MaxRiesgo/iStockphoto

Washington — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has published a final rule to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, including guidance to provide workers with more clarity on the law – and employers with a better understanding of their responsibilities. 

The act, which will go into effect June 18, requires employers with 15 or more employees to extend “reasonable accommodations” to workers experiencing pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, unless those accommodations will cause the employer undue hardship.

Accommodations can include additional breaks to drink water, eat or use the restroom; a stool to sit on while working; time off for health care appointments; telework; temporary reassignment; or time off to recover from childbirth or a miscarriage.

A comment period on the act ended Oct. 10, 2023, which led to several clarifications from EEOC, including:

  • Guidance on limitations and medical conditions for which employees can seek an accommodation, including miscarriage or stillbirth; migraine headaches; lactation; and episodic pregnancy-related conditions, such as morning sickness.
  • An explanation of when an accommodation would impose undue hardship on an employer or business.
  • Guidance that encourages early and frequent communication between workers and employers to raise questions and resolve accommodation requests in a timely manner.
  • Establishing that employers are not required to seek supporting documentation when a worker requests a reasonable accommodation.
  • Information on how employers can assert defenses or exemptions, including those based on religion, as early as possible in charge processing.

The EEOC’s website includes a PFWA page that features common questions, important terms and provisions, a tip sheet for workers on how to ask for reasonable accommodations, a recorded webinar for employers, and a downloadable poster for health care providers. 

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