On December 22nd, 2023, in a bipartisan vote, the U.S. Senate approved the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) to be included in the 2023 federal spending plan. As the bill moved forward into the House of Representatives, it was then passed on December 23rd, 2022. The same day, President Joe Biden signed the bill into law. Continue reading to discover the mandated accommodations associated with PWFA.
What Is The PWFA?
The PWFA requires companies to provide pregnant workers with reasonable accommodations such as limits on heavy lifting and more frequent breaks. Currently, federal law only requires those accommodations if employers also offer them to workers with injuries or medical conditions. Under the PWFA, employers with 15 or more employees must accommodate applicants and employees with known limitations due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
The Biden Administration has continued to support the PWFA, stating that pregnant workers are often compelled to choose between their health and their jobs. Unless these accommodations are incorporated into law, pregnant women will not be protected. Due to this, many women have a difficult time proving pregnancy discrimination against their employers. The lack of protection for women who are expecting often leads to thousands of women losing their jobs each year. The implementation of the PWFA has mandated that reasonable accommodations must now be implemented into your business operations. Accommodations may include:
- Assigning lighter work
- Permitting frequent bathroom breaks
- Allowing water at workstations
Implementing Temporary Accommodations
Often, accommodations may be made for a pregnant employee with the expectation of removing it after the child is born. For example, if a woman needs to work from home for a certain period, then employers must decide if the position can be properly completed remotely. For employers, some positions can be challenging to accommodate. What happens when you can’t make accommodations for your employees? If pregnant workers can no longer complete the essential functions of their position, employers are allowed to provide indefinite leave. No one wants to lose an employee due to temporary circumstances; therefore, employers must consider whether they can create a new position for the time being. This will allow pregnant women in the workforce to have a healthy and safe pregnancy.
Reaching ADA Accommodations
This legislation was modeled on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Currently, the ADA has laws in place to minimize discrimination against pregnant women. When it comes to women who are breastfeeding, federal law requires employers to provide reasonable time and clean space when necessary. However, due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, many salaried workers were excluded from this law. Through women’s pregnancies, many often work in physically demanding and low-wage positions.
Ease The Implementation Process
Ever-changing legislation can be overwhelming for a busy business owner to manage. When you partner with GMS, you don’t have to worry about missing legislative updates that may affect your compliance. Remove the consistent administrative burdens and get back to focusing on what’s important – growing your business. Contact GMS today to learn more.