Ready, Set PWFA

Ready, Set PWFA

On April 19, 2024, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its final rule to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). The PWFA, took effect on June 27, 2023, and requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to the known limitations of an employee for pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship. The PWFA generally applies to public and private employers employing fifteen or more employees.

Like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the PWFA defines a qualified employee as an employee or applicant who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of a job. Unlike the ADA, an individual may still be qualified under the PWFA even if they cannot perform one or more of the essential job functions as long as they are or are expected to be able to perform the essential functions in the near future (generally within 40 weeks for pregnant employees though a different timeframe might apply in certain circumstances) and that the inability to perform the essential function(s) can be reasonably accommodated.

The PWFA builds on existing pregnancy-related protections under Title VII and the ADA.

Key points of consideration in the final rule include:

  • Reasonable Accommodations. The final rule provides examples of reasonable accommodations under the PWFA, including, without limitation, frequent breaks to eat, drink water and use the restroom, a stool or chair to sit on while working, adjustments to parking, light duty, time off for medical appointments, temporary reassignment, temporary suspension of certain job duties, telework, and time off to recover from childbirth or a miscarriage.
  • Predictable Assessments. The final rule identifies accommodations to be so common and easy to fulfill as to qualify as predictable assessments, these include allowing an employee to carry or keep water in the employee’s work area, take breaks as needed to eat and drink, additional bathroom breaks and working while sitting instead of standing or vice versa.
  • Limitations and Medical Conditions. The EEOC adopts a very broad interpretation of the terms “limitations” and “pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.” The final rule outlines examples of limitations and medical conditions for which employees can seek reasonable accommodations, including, without limitation, miscarriages, stillbirths, abortion related conditions – which are currently being challenged by a group of states’ attorney generals, chronic migraines, lactation, anxiety, endometriosis, gestational diabetes, and morning sickness.
  • Communicating Accommodation Requests. The final rule places emphasis on simplifying the request for reasonable accommodation focusing on keeping the process uncomplicated.  
  • Supporting Documentation. When employees request reasonable accommodations, employers should only ask for supporting documentation if it is needed to decide if the employee has a limitation that is related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
  • Undue Hardship. There are several factors used to determine whether a reasonable accommodation poses an undue hardship on the employer, these are the same factors as the ADA.  The final rule also provides factors to be used when determining whether a “temporary suspension of an essential function” imposes an undue hardship, including, the length of time the employee with be unable to perform the essential function, the nature of the essential function and whether there is other work for the employee to perform. 

The final rule published in the Federal Register on April 19, 2024, becomes effective on June 18, 2024.

Employers should review policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the PWFA. As a reminder be sure to post the most current Know Your Rights poster.

The information contained in this Benefit Beat is not intended to be legal, accounting, or other professional advice, nor are these comments directed to specific situations. This information is provided as general guidance and may be affected by changes in law or regulation. This information is not intended to replace or substitute for accounting or other professional advice. You must consult your own attorney or tax advisor for assistance in specific situations. This information is provided as-is, with no warranties of any kind. CBIZ shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever in connection with its use and assumes no obligation to inform the reader of any changes in laws or other factors that could affect the information contained herein.

Ready, Set PWFAhttps://www.cbiz.com/Portals/0/Images/GettyImages-1449248203-1.jpg?ver=bCGpxZok4fDOLUl5ZEXTfA%3d%3dhttps://www.cbiz.com/Portals/0/Images/GettyImages-1449248203-2.jpg?ver=vJbl69oIoY_CqajogHc_gQ%3d%3dOn April 19, 2024, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its final rule to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA).2024-05-02T17:00:00-05:00On April 19, 2024, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its final rule to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). The PWFA, took effect on June 27, 2023, and requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to the known limitations of an employee for pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship. The PWFA generally applies to public and private employers employing fifteen or more employees.Regulatory, Compliance, & LegislativeEmployee Benefits ComplianceNo