Debra Fowler, SHRM-CP | Director, Compliance & Policy
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: Everything you need to know as an employer to remain compliant.
Just a reminder for covered employers, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) takes effect June 27, 2023. The PWFA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees and applicants experiencing pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions; and additionally prohibits discrimination for an individual’s need for pregnancy-related accommodation.
Which employers have to comply?
Those with 15 or more employees and all government employers.
What does this mean for employers?
Employers cannot fail to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant, postpartum, or nursing mothers unless providing the accommodation would pose an undue hardship on the business.
Employers cannot deny employees their rights to the interactive process under the PWFA nor the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Employers cannot deny employment to applicants based on their need for accommodation due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
Forced Leaves of Absence
Employers cannot force an employee to take a leave of absence in lieu of reasonable accommodation.
Employers cannot retaliate against employees or applicants who have opposed any act or practice made unlawful under the PWFA, or coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with an individual in the exercise of rights granted under the PWFA.
The PWFA does not require employees to accept unreasonable accommodations proposed by the employer; nor does it require employers to provide accommodations which place an undue hardship on the employer. This is where the interactive process comes into play and allows a dialogue between the employer and the employee to determine the most appropriate and effective accommodation options.
Under the PWFA employers are required to consider “waiving” essential job function(s) for a qualified employee if the inability to perform the essential function(s) is temporary and waiving the essential function does not cause an undue hardship on the employer.
This law goes into effect on June 27, 2023, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will start accepting complaints about violations of the law which occur on or after the effective date of the law. We do expect additional guidance from the EEOC later this year.
If you have any questions about your requirements as an employer under the PWFA, we encourage you to contact your HR Business Partner at Vida HR.