On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PFWA) into law. The PWFA applies to employers with at least 15 employees and becomes effective on June 27, 2023, and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees and applicants affected by pregnancy or childbirth, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the business.
The PWFA adopts the same meaning of “reasonable accommodation” and “undue hardship” as used in the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), including the interactive process that will typically be used to determine an appropriate reasonable accommodation. The PWFA provides that an employee or their representative can make the employer aware of the employee’s limitations. It also provides that an employer cannot require an employee to take a paid or unpaid leave of absence if another reasonable accommodation can be provided.
Next Steps for Employers
Employers should review and adjust their reasonable accommodation policies and procedures to ensure that they cover pregnancy-related accommodations. Like the ADA, when an employee requests an accommodation under the PWFA, employers must engage in the interactive process and make a reasonable accommodation absent an undue hardship.
Supervisors/Managers should also be trained on the organizations’ accommodation policies and procedures.
Multistate employers may have employees in states or localities that have adopted pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions accommodation laws that are more generous than federal law and should ensure that they are adhering to the law that provides the greatest protection for the employee.
Employers who need guidance on situations where they believe an undue hardship exists should consult with their legal counsel prior to denying an accommodation request.