Massachusetts has become the most recent state to approve legislation guaranteeing protections for all pregnant and breastfeeding workers.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act requires employers to provide pregnant workers with “reasonable accommodations,” as well as a right to less strenuous duties and more frequent breaks and temporary transfers, as long as making the accommodations don’t cause the business “significant difficulty or expense.”
Workers also would have the right to take time off to recover from childbirth and be given a private space to express breast milk.
Signed by Governor Baker, and passed by the Massachusetts House and Senate, the new anti-discrimination law prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against someone because they are pregnant or because of a condition related to pregnancy, including lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child. Employers are required to make good faith efforts “to determine effective reasonable accommodations” to allow employees “to perform the essential functions” of their job.
“Many employers already provide these types of accommodations for pregnant and breastfeeding workers,” says Joan Bates, a Vice President at Bates Insurance Agency. “This legislation is to assure all employers are doing their best to provide the necessary accommodations to pregnant and breastfeeding workers.”
Employers now will be required to give official notice to employees regarding the law’s new rights.
The act defines some reasonable accommodations as:
Although an employer may require documentation when a worker requests a reasonable accommodation, that’s not allowed if the employee’s request is for:
Employers can refuse reasonable accommodations only if the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on their business because of the expense or significant difficulty in meeting the request.
The law outlines specific instances of determining an undue hardship for a business or employer.
The employer has the burden to prove the undue hardship, if any dispute arises that leads to a legal or administrative proceeding.
Employers will face violations if:
The law will go into effect April 1st.MA Law