Today, the national Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) becomes law. The PWFA is one of the most significant civil rights victories our country has seen in decades. The new law requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to allow pregnant and postpartum workers to continue working while protecting their health.
Examples of reasonable accommodations under the PWFA can include:
- Time off to recover from childbirth, pregnancy loss, postpartum depression, and more
- Additional/longer breaks to drink water, eat, or use the bathroom
- Flexible scheduling to attend prenatal or postnatal appointments
- Remote work or telework
- Light duty, or help with manual labor and lifting
- A transfer away from dangerous chemicals
- New equipment like a stool to sit on or maternity uniform
The PWFA applies to all kinds of employers with 15 employees. Employers cannot retaliate against pregnant workers for requesting accommodations.
National work-family legal advocacy organization A Better Balance, which led the 10-year movement to pass the PWFA, has launched a robust campaign to educate individuals and families about their rights under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, including with a new Know Your Rights guide for pregnant and postpartum workers which explains the law in clear terms and provides sample letters they can send to their employer, links to resources for additional support, and more. A Better Balance’s free work-family legal helpline is available at 1-833-NEED-ABB to assist workers further with customized support.
“At long last, pregnant and postpartum workers in every corner of the country now have a clear right to the accommodations they need to remain healthy and attached to the workforce. This is an incredible moment for millions of workers, especially pregnant women and working moms in low-wage and physically demanding jobs, who have faced unimaginable economic hardship for needing modest accommodations to protect their health. From this day forward, pregnant and postpartum workers nationwide will be afforded fairness, dignity, and equality under the law,” said A Better Balance Co-Founder and Co-President Dina Bakst.
Passing a major piece of civil rights legislation in a heavily partisan and divided Congress took over a decade of savvy advocacy, sustained pressure, and movement-building. In its new report, “Winning the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” A Better Balance shares key tactics and strategies that led to this victory in the final moments of the 2022 legislative session, and highlights how the success can serve as a roadmap for other work-family campaigns.