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Federal law expands protections for pregnant workers

Published By | Mar 10, 2023 | Employment Law For Employees

If you are a pregnant worker, you may be juggling a lot. You may be dealing with everything from work deadlines and doctor’s visits to difficulty sleeping and feeling nauseated. With so much on your plate, the last thing you should have to worry about is being uncomfortable or unsafe at work.

Thankfully, the federal government is expanding protections for you and other pregnant workers across the country.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) requires companies with at least 15 employees to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers. These accommodations can be necessary to help a person perform their job duties when they have limitations due to pregnancy or childbirth.

Some examples of possible reasonable accommodations include:

  •  Additional breaks to use the restroom or drink water
  • The option to sit during work hours
  • Closer parking spaces
  • Flexible work hours
  • Appropriately sized uniforms as you get further along in your pregnancy
  • The ability to be excused from work involving strenuous activities or harmful chemicals
  • Leave for health or medical reasons

Such reasonable accommodations can allow you to perform your job duties safely and without compromising your health or your baby’s development.

The PWFA requires employers to provide these and other reasonable accommodations upon request unless doing so would cause them undue hardship. The PWFA goes into effect on June 27, 2023.

Doesn’t this law already exist?

While the passage of the PWFA is important, it may not change much for  pregnant workers in New York, as New York State and New York City laws already protect the rights of pregnant workers seeking accommodations. These laws require employers with at least four employees to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers.

Pregnant workers also have protections against discrimination and retaliation.

The PWFA will further pregnant workers’ ability to continue to work during their pregnancy and maximize parental leave after childbirth. Additionally, the protections of the PWFA will exist whether you live in New York or move to another state.

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