Parents and advocates are celebrating one year since Congress passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in December 2022. If you are working and pregnant, recovering from childbirth, pumping breast milk, or have a related medical condition, this brand new national law helps protect you and your baby’s health, without losing your job.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was passed by Congress on December 23, 2022. It was signed into law by President Biden on December 29, 2022, and went into effect on June 27th, 2023. This groundbreaking law is one of the biggest wins for expecting and new parents in the workplace in decades. It provides workers the right to receive reasonable accommodations (like flexible schedules) for pregnancy, childbirth recovery, lactation, and related medical conditions. This monumental victory will make it easier for millions of working parents to keep their jobs and livelihoods during these crucial transitions in life.
Pregnant and postpartum workers need to know their rights to ensure they get the protections and accommodations they’re entitled to. Here’s what you need to know:
Know Your Rights
When the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act took effect, most workers gained new rights to reasonable accommodations, or temporary changes at work, during or after pregnancy.
Examples of these ‘reasonable accommodations’ could include:
- 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
You can find additional information and resources on A Better Balance’s website, including sample letters to send your employer requesting accommodations and a free and confidential legal helpline that can give you legal advice and help you assert your workplace rights.
A Win For Parents
This is one of the largest wins for workers in decades, and victory was not a sure thing. In 2022, the ParentsTogether community, alongside other organizations and allies, mobilized to help get the law passed. Thousands of us signed petitions, sent emails, made phone calls, attended advocacy meetings, rallied at the Capitol, shared our stories, and even showed up in Senator Schumer’s apartment lobby!
Then, in the final moments of Congress before adjourning for the holidays in 2022, both the PWFA and the PUMP Act, which requires employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk and a place to pump at work, were added to Congress’s end of year omnibus budget bill – and got the bipartisan support needed to pass.
These new protections have become a game changer for millions of working parents — but they need to know about them in order to demand the rights they’re now entitled to. Spread the word by sharing this information with friends, coworkers, and family or posting about it on social media.