If you are working and pregnant, recovering from childbirth, pumping breast milk, or have a related medical condition, new national laws can help you protect your health and the health of your pregnancy, without losing your job.
Under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, as of June 27, 2023, most workers have a right to reasonable accommodations, or temporary changes at work, that are medically-necessary during or after pregnancy.
- Flexible scheduling for prenatal or postnatal appointments
- Additional, longer, or more flexible breaks to drink water, eat, rest, or use the bathroom
- Light duty, or help with manual labor and lifting
- Temporary transfer to a less physically demanding or safer position
- Limiting exposure to hazardous chemicals
- Access to a water bottle or food
- Leave or time off to recover from childbirth, even if you don’t qualify for the FMLA
- Leave or time off for bedrest, recovery from miscarriage, postpartum depression, mastitis, and other pregnancy-related health issues
- Providing equipment such as a stool to sit on
- Changing a uniform or dress code, like allowing wearing maternity pants
- Changing a work schedule, like allowing shorter work hours or a later start time to accommodate morning sickness
- Breaks, private space (not in a bathroom), and other accommodations for lactation needs, like adding a lock to a meeting room for private breast milk expression
- Remote work or telework
Need help starting a conversation with your boss about these new protections?
Click below for sample letters for requesting an accommodation and informing your employer about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
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Other existing laws like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), paid family and medical leave programs in 12 states and Washington D.C., and state and local paid sick time laws can help support pregnant and postpartum workers. Legal protections may vary based on factors like your employer size and additional protections may be available in certain states. To learn more about laws to protect expecting and new parents, visit the below resources.
Please note that this guide is not intended to provide an exhaustive overview of any law described. It is possible that other provisions may apply to your specific circumstances or category of employment.
Note also that the information contained in this guide does not constitute legal advice. Please be aware that if you are contemplating taking legal action, most laws have something called a “statute of limitations,” which means that you have to take action within a certain period of time following the violation. It is always advisable to consult with an attorney about your individual circumstances if you have questions or think your rights as a worker have been violated.
If you have additional questions about your rights, you can contact our free, confidential legal helpline.