The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Today’s the day . . .

In a win for parents across the US, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) officially goes into effect today. First introduced in December 2022, this law was enacted for two key reasons:

  • to ensure that pregnant employees can continue to work for as long as they are able to and want to
  • to maintain the health of pregnant employees and their pregnancies

Making it easier for millions of new and expecting parents to maintain their livelihoods during one of life’s most crucial transitions, we’re sharing more about the act and why we’re so pumped (pardon the pun) about it below . . .

What is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act?

This federal law requires employers to make “reasonable accommodations” to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions unless said accommodation will cause the employer an “undue hardship.”

For those who are curious, “undue hardship” constitutes anything requiring significant expense, disruption, and/or fundamental changes to a business. The employer’s entire organizational resources are considered in making this determination. Likewise, employers must be ready to present evidence in a court of law if their accommodation denial is challenged.

This final rule and interpretive guidance is effective today, June 18, 2024.

What does the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act look like in practice?

Once in effect (a.k.a RIGHT NOW) employers must accommodate all health needs at work arising from pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions. Examples identified in the regulations include but are not limited to:

  • Flexible scheduling for prenatal or postnatal appointments
  • Additional, longer, or more flexible breaks to drink water, eat, rest, or use the bathroom
  • Temporary transfer to a less physically demanding or safer position
  • Limiting exposure to hazardous chemicals
  • 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

Similarly, under this law employers cannot:

  • Require an employee to accept an accommodation without a discussion
  • Deny a job or other employment opportunities to a qualified employee or applicant based on the person’s need for a reasonable accommodation
  • Require an employee to take leave if a reasonable accommodation can be provided that would let the employee keep working
  • Retaliate against an individual for reporting or opposing unlawful discrimination under the act

We’re pumped – moving forward . . .

While some may be surprised to learn that such protections had not previously been in place, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is undeniably one of the biggest “workplace-wins” for parents in decades. Although just one step, we’re grateful to be inching our way closer to a time when pumping at work may be easier than ever for generous milk donors like Lindsay. A time when mama’s like Jodi have ample space to recover from a traumatic birth. A time when those managing a high risk pregnancy like Katie’s have the support they need and deserve.

Learning more . . .

We expect to see plenty of helpful guides and resources emerging in the near future but for those who want to know more now, we’d suggest checking out the Pumped About My Rights webinar / live chat with Sarah Wells.

Mom, entrepreneur (chances are you’ve seen her pretty-meets-practical pumping bags on Instagram) breastfeeding advocate and longtime friend of the milk bank, Sarah has an extensive background in policy which she drew upon to write her very first book, Go Ask Your Mothers. With one lofty goal, Go Ask Your Mothers aims to help managers better support working moms for greater team success – but if anyone can do it, Sarah can!

Starting tonight at 8PM EST, Sarah’s webinar will help you better understand your rights as a working parent and provide tips on getting the support you need at work. Register here to attend.

Psst! We’re excited, are you? Let us know what you think! Share your thoughts at

Key Supporters

Maternal Healthy Equity Grant Recipient logo
Yale Appliance logo
Davis Family Foundation logo
Aria Covey Foundation logo
Massachusetts Foundation logo