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Workplaces are now required to provide accommodations for pregnancy and postpartum, new law states

According to experts, it basically protects pregnant women from having to choose between their paychecks and their health.

Workplaces are now required to provide accommodations for pregnancy and postpartum, new law states
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Matilda Wormwood

People in the workforce have received positive news with the introduction of a new law designed to eliminate discrimination against pregnant employees.  According to the law, employers need to provide accommodations to them so that they can continue doing their jobs while they are expecting, reports CBS News. "The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act" promotes women's health and economic well-being. According to experts, it protects pregnant women from having to choose between their paychecks and their health.

Image Source: Pexels/ Pavel Danilyuk
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pavel Danilyuk

Elizabeth Gedmark of A Better Balance, an advocacy group for pregnant workers, told CBS, "The PWFA is the culmination of a 10-year-long campaign to close gaps in civil rights laws so pregnant workers are not pushed out of jobs or forced to risk their health when they require reasonable accommodations on the job, like a water bottle to stay hydrated or a transfer away from strenuous heavy lifting."

The new law apparently closes a loophole between the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The ADA was set in place in 1990, it stops employers from discriminating against employees with disabilities and also forces them to provide accommodations for them. However, it does not see pregnancy as a disability that needs accommodation.


On the other hand, PDA, which came in 1978, bans employers from discriminating on the basis of pregnancy in hiring and firing. However, it only allows pregnant women workers to be treated as equal to other workers. This means that an employee who is pregnant could not be given a physically grueling task. Gedmark said that the problem with physically demanding workplaces is that it can be difficult to identify a person who needs to be treated the way you need to be treated. "Employers can treat everyone poorly and someone would then have to risk their health," he added.

In short, both laws were not providing protection for pregnant workers with pregnancy-related limitations. After the new law came into effect on Tuesday, employers need to provide accommodations for known limitations related to pregnancy unless it is causing a hardship on a company's operations. 

Now, employers have to provide a range of accommodations to pregnant women which includes access to water, closer parking, flexible hours, and additional bathroom breaks. The House Committee on Education and Labor has mentioned examples of reasonable accommodations in its report on the new law. They included providing pregnant women with seating, water, closer parking, flexible hours, appropriately sized uniforms, and safety apparel. Moreover, additional bathroom, meal, and rest breaks. 


The report also adds that PWFA will help pregnant women to maintain those careers. Also, women increasingly support their families, with 40% of them being sole or primary breadwinners. Reportedly, the law has come into the picture when the US has fallen behind its counterparts in women's labor force participation, according to ABC News. The data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that the percentage of American women who are part of the labor market is 69% compared to Canada which has 77% and the UK at 75.1%.


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