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EEOC’s Proposed Rulemaking for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

16 Aug

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Update Applicable to:

All employers covered under the PWFA (Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act). Covered employers include private sector employers with at least 15 employees.

What happened?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA).

What are the details?

This NPRM has been made available for public inspection and will be published for public comment on August 11. The EEOC is inviting public feedback through regulations.gov within a 60-day window from the publication date.

EEOC’s Perspective and Purpose

EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows emphasizes the significance of the PWFA, highlighting its positive impact on workers, families, and the economy. The law aims to ensure economic security and well-being for pregnant and postpartum workers by granting them access to job-related support, aiding both workers and employers in maintaining essential talent. The EEOC’s proposed regulation aligns with the agency’s commitment to implementing the PWFA’s protections effectively, and the public’s input on its implications for workplaces is encouraged.

Key Provisions of the PWFA

The PWFA mandates that covered employers must provide reasonable accommodations for known limitations arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. However, such accommodations are not required if they pose an undue hardship for the employer. The PWFA builds upon existing safeguards against pregnancy discrimination under the Civil Rights Act’s Title VII and the accessibility to reasonable accommodations as outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Details of the NPRM

The NPRM was endorsed by a majority vote of the Commission on August 1, 2023. It offers insight into the EEOC’s proposed interpretation of the PWFA and its terms, including concepts like “temporary,” “essential functions,” and “communicated to the employer.” The NPRM presents numerous illustrative examples of potential reasonable accommodations and requests feedback on whether more examples should be provided for different scenarios. Additionally, the EEOC seeks information and comments on specific matters, such as data concerning the proportion of pregnant workers requiring workplace accommodations and the average cost of pregnancy-related accommodations.

Implications of the Proposed Regulation

Vice Chair Jocelyn Samuels emphasizes the practical benefits of the EEOC’s bipartisan proposed regulation, which facilitates the effective implementation of the PWFA. The regulation’s concrete examples empower workers to understand their rights and guide employers in complying with the new law, ultimately enabling both parties to navigate pregnancy and childbirth-related situations while retaining skilled employees.

Commissioner’s Perspectives

Commissioner Andrea R. Lucas, an advocate for the PWFA’s passage, expresses pride in contributing to the bipartisan rule that supports the law’s implementation. The EEOC is dedicated to realizing the PWFA’s potential to positively impact women and families across the nation.

Background and Timeline

The PWFA is a bipartisan law signed by President Biden on December 29, 2022. The EEOC began enforcing the PWFA on June 27, 2023, and is required to issue implementing regulations by December 29, 2023. In anticipation of this, the EEOC has already provided educational resources, including materials like webinars, informational posters, tips for requesting accommodations, video series, and updated “Know Your Rights” posters for workplaces.

For more information, please see the links below:

Federal Register

Proposed Rule

Comments Site (posting of comments will not be available until proposed rule is published, which is currently estimated to be on 8/11/2023; you can search for “EEOC” and “RIN 3046-AB30” at that time)

RIN 3026-AB30 Status

RIN 3046-AB30 Recent Meetings

What You Should Know About the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Webinar

What do employers need to do?

Employers should read the proposed rule and familiarize themselves with the content and upon publication of the proposed rule, employers who wish to, should submit comments via the regulations.gov site.

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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