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Pregnant Workers Fairness Act - Final Regulations - HR ALERTS

Updated: May 2

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act - Final Regulations

HR Alerts : Vida HR Knowledge Center
Effective: June 18, 2024

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has published a final rule, along with interpretive guidance, for employers to implement the Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act (PWFA). This final ruling and guidance goes into effect June 18th, 2024.

 

 The Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act requires eligible employers (those who have 15 or more employees), to provide reasonable accommodations to employees and applicants who have limitations due to pregnancy, childbirth, or other related medical conditions. Accommodation does not have to be provided if it would cause an undue hardship to the operation of the business of the covered entity.

 

Key Takeaways & Rulings

One of the key takeaways from this ruling is that some accommodations for pregnant employees are presumptively reasonable. This means the employee will need an exceptionally good reason to deny the accommodation on the basis of hardship. These presumptively reasonable accommodations include:


  • Allowing an employee to carry/keep water near and to drink it as needed

  • Allowing an employee to take additional restroom breaks as needed

  • Allowing an employee whose work requires standing or sitting to sit/stand as needed

  • Allowing an employee to take breaks to eat and drink as needed

Another important ruling is that employees cannot create blanket policies that require documentation in order to support an employee’s accommodation request. An employer can request documentation, but only when it’s reasonable under the circumstances. The EEOC has listed situations where seeking supporting documentation is not considered reasonable and is not allowed:


  • When the limitation and accommodation is obvious

  • When the employer already has sufficient information to determine the employee is in need of an accommodation

  • When a pregnant employee requests one of the above presumptively reasonable accommodations

  • When the employee requests an accommodation relating to pumping or nursing (if it is feasible) at work

  • When the requested accommodation is readily available to employees with limitations outside of the scope of PWFA without them having to provide documentation

 

The definition of what is considered a limitation in need of accommodation is very broad under the PWFA; they do not need to result in a disability in order to be considered a limitation. Limitations also include medical care, which means employers need to allow time off for appointments or other related care. In addition, an employer cannot require accommodation requests to be given in a specific or uniform format. It’s also important to note that once a request is made, employers should do their best to provide it and not delay.

 

For more information, you can find the final ruling here. Please not that the first 87 pages are simply background information, the regulations start on page 88. If you are a Vida HR client, you can reach out to your HR Business Partner for further assistance.

Get day-to-day updates on Pregnant Workers Fairness Act - Final Regulations, visit the Vida HR Knowledge Center (Vida HR Clients Exclusive).

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