What is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act & how will it affect employers?

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act - GenesisIn July, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed legislation H. 3680, An Act Establishing the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a bipartisan bill that extends protections to pregnant workers in the Commonwealth.

So, what is this act, and how might it affect employees and their employers? Here’s our review:

What is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act?

According to the governor’s office press release, the act closes gaps in federal law for employers of six or more by doing the following things:

  • Prohibiting workplace and hiring discrimination related to pregnancy and nursing
  • Requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations for expectant and new mothers in the workplace.
  • Providing access to less strenuous workloads, altered work schedules, time off with or without pay and private nursing space.

The bill also protects nursing mothers.

Baker said about the bill, “This bipartisan legislation extends critical protections to women in the workplace and I thank the Legislature for their collaboration with advocates from both the women’s health and business communities,” “These provisions are important to expectant and working moms supporting their families and raising healthy children.”

Senator Joan Lovely added, “Pregnant workers will never again have to choose between keeping their job and the health of their pregnancy.This bill becomes law with the full support of the Governor, legislature, advocates and employers. Pregnant workers and their families deserve the protections contained in this law to ensure their health, safety and prosperity. It is a clear recognition of the important role these individuals play in our households, economy and society.”

The Massachusetts Senate enacted the bill 38-0, resulting in a bipartisan victory for all pregnant workers. You can read the full text of the bill here.

When will the act become effective?

Governor Baker signed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act on July 27, 2017; the bill will go into effect on April 1, 2018.

What should employers do to prepare?

To prepare for this act, employers should make sure that if they aren’t already following the provisions of the new law that they begin to do so immediately.

Keeping in mind that the bill goes into effect in mid-April of next year, you should begin amending necessary policies and procedures in your own employee handbook right now, so when the time comes, you’re already fully in compliance.

You can read more about the act and what it will mean for employers in this JD Supra article.

As always, our experts can help your company prepare for this change and how to get in compliance with the law.

Just contact us today to get started.

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