Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

We know that returning to work is one of the biggest barriers women face when trying to continue breastfeeding past the age of 6 months, as recommended by, well, everyone. So here at Share the Drop, we partied when the PUMP Act went into effect this year. Not only did it mean that feeding all the babies would potentially get easier, but it also meant that our society was placing long-overdue value on the work women do, both in and out of the home. It also helps to ensure that pregnant and nursing workers should no longer have to choose between a paycheck and their health (as well as their child’s). 

Today, another important law goes into effect – the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). It grants most workers (it excludes those working in the aviation industry), the right to reasonable accommodations aka temporary changes at work during and after pregnancy. 

Here are some accommodations that you can ask for as a result:

  • Flexible scheduling for prenatal or postnatal appointments
  • Additional or longer breaks to hydrate, eat, rest, or use the bathroom
  • Providing furniture such as a stool to sit on
  • Leave or time off to recover from childbirth, even if you don’t qualify for FMLA
  • Changing a uniform or dress code to more maternity-friendly options
  • Amending a work schedule such as starting later in the day if you’re suffering from morning sickness
  • A closer parking space 
  • Moving workstations, such as one closer to a restroom
  • Remote work

Did you know that fewer than 2% of all workers in the United States are pregnant each year? So don’t believe your next door neighbor when he says that this law will cripple our economy. What it will do is improve conditions for lower-wage workers and women of color such as janitors, home-health workers, and those in the food and beverage industry. 

PWFA is a landmark civil rights law that ensures pregnant and postpartum workers are not forced out of their jobs and can get the accommodations they need without facing discrimination or retaliation in the workplace. Women can no longer be fired, passed over for promotion or forced out on leave because of pregnancy. 

The law also covers pregnancy-related conditions such as mastitis. It protects people who work for the government and for private employers with at least 15 employees. 

Other laws that impact pregnant and postpartum workers include:

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