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Pregnant workers get new workplace protections

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2023 | Firm News

Some employers are reluctant to give workers the rights they are entitled to. They might do so overtly with clear indications that they do not want to adhere to the law, or they might do it subtly and discourage people from seeking assistance and taking time off they are perfectly entitled to take.

This is particularly true when new laws go into effect.

What rights to pregnant workers have?

Recently, a new law went into effect to strengthen the rights of pregnant workers. The federal Pregnant Worker Fairness Act, or PWFA, went into effect June 27 of this year and requires covered employers to give reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees to account for their needs. Employers with at least 15 employees must abide by the law.

In California, the laws are more extensive.

Under the California Family Rights Act, the requirement for reasonable accommodations applies to employers with as few as five employees.

Pregnant workers can also have as much as four months of disability leave along with their pregnancy leave. When they are disabled for longer than that, they can apply for extended disability.

Reasonable accommodation can include being allowed to sit, having extended breaks and receiving breaks more often. In some cases, employers can have pregnant employees move to work that is less physically strenuous than their usual jobs.

As with other forms of disability leave, employers cannot terminate pregnant workers who take time off due to disability. When they get back to work, they must either go back to their previous positions or a similar one. Their pay and hours must remain the same. They cannot be transferred to a different location.

Workers should not fear seeking reasonable accommodations

These laws are in place for anyone who needs disability accommodations. It is unfortunate that some employers try to dissuade employees from exercising their rights under the law. Workers need not be concerned about their status when they do so.

If an employer has mistreated an employee in any way, it is important to take the necessary steps to hold them accountable. Workers need to know that they are not alone when they are fighting back against employer wrongdoing. That includes knowing what can be done to recover financially and professionally for all that was lost.