A recent federal law, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, has come into effect, aiming to make the lives of pregnant employees a little easier while they continue to work.
The law specifically covers employees who face limitations at work due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Employment attorney Harvey Sanders emphasizes the ongoing significance of pregnancy-related issues in the workplace, given that a majority of pregnant women are actively employed.
Reasonable accommodations, as defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, include provisions such as seating arrangements, access to drinking water, closer parking spaces, flexible working hours, additional break time for rest or meals, properly fitting uniforms, and leave for post-childbirth recovery, Spetrum Local News says. Sanders explains that the primary goal of this law is to address the gap in federal legislation concerning necessary accommodations for pregnant workers, allowing them to remain productive and benefiting both themselves and their employers.
While employers are required to provide these accommodations, they are not obliged to do so if it would create an excessive burden on their operations. However, Sanders points out that most accommodations are not financially burdensome, making it difficult for employers to justify the undue hardship exception.
Open communication between managers and employees is essential for discussing and implementing potential accommodations as needed. Employers should also ensure that their Equal Employment Opportunity Commission files are updated to reflect this new legislation. In case reasonable accommodations are not met, employees have the right to file a complaint with the EEOC.
It is important to note that the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act does not replace existing federal, state, or local laws protecting individuals from pregnancy discrimination, medical disabilities, or providing family and medical leave. These additional laws complement the comprehensive framework for supporting pregnant employees in the workplace, including provisions for breastfeeding mothers.