Under the PWFA, employees and applicants (hereto referred to collectively as “employee”) are entitled to accommodations for a condition related to or affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition of a physical or mental nature. This may include (among others) morning sickness, gestational diabetes, post-partum depression, and lactation.
This law expands employer obligations beyond what is already required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Being entitled to a pregnancy-related accommodation does not require the employee’s condition rise to the level of disability. Employees are entitled to accommodations even if they cannot perform their essential job functions on a temporary basis. These accommodations may include:
- Providing more frequent or longer breaks.
- Modifying a food or drink policy.
- Providing seating or allowing the employee to sit more frequently if their job requires standing.
- Observing limits on lifting.
- Providing job restructuring, light duty, or a modified work schedule.
Employers cannot require an employee to take leave if reasonable on-the-job accommodations are available. Similar to the ADA, the employer and employee should engage in an interactive process to determine what reasonable accommodations can be provided. If the employer is willing to grant the employee’s request, the interactive process in not required.
Many states have already implemented pregnancy accommodation laws. Some of these laws may be more generous than the PWFA. Employers must apply the law, or the aspect of each law, that is most favorable to the employees.
In order to comply with the PWFA, employers must:
- Add a pregnancy accommodations policy to the organization’s handbook or review the current policy to ensure current compliance.
- If the organization is subject to state law that provides similar accommodations, ensure the policy captures the most employee-friendly aspects of the applicable laws.
- Ensure that managers are aware of the law and types of accommodations that may be required.
Please note: Employers do not have to provide an accommodation if doing so would cause an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.
For additional information about the PWFA, visit the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
*Southland Data Processing, Inc. (“SDP”) is not a law firm. This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon in reaching a conclusion in a particular area of law. Applicability of the legal principles discussed may differ substantially in individual situations. Receipt of this or any other SDP materials does not create an attorney-client relationship. SDP is not responsible for any inadvertent errors that may occur in the publishing process.