The PWFA: What Employers Must Know

By Jana Reserva

Jun. 3, 2024


  • The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) mandates employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant and qualified employees. At the very least, reasonable accommodations could mean time off, including scheduling changes and temporary reassignments.
  • The EEOC’s final regulation for the law will go into effect on June 18, 2024.
  • An efficient workforce management solution can help with compliance and managing accommodations. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued the final regulation to carry out the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PFWA) that will go into effect on June 18, 2024. Designed to protect the rights of pregnant employees, the PWFA mandates that businesses provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers, similar to those provided under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Understanding and implementing the PWFA not only helps you stay compliant with federal law but also promotes a supportive and inclusive work environment. 

Here’s a quick rundown of the PWFA and how you can best comply.  

What is the PWFA?

The PFWA law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees. It took effect in June 2023, but the EEOC recently issued the final regulation to implement it. 

It protects employees who have known limitations. Under the law, these refer to physical and mental conditions related to, affected by, or arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. 

The law applies to public and private sector employers with more than 15 employees. 

What does reasonable accommodation exactly mean?

Basically, these are adjustments or changes in the work environment that would help qualified employees. The most obvious accommodation would be providing time off for treatments, doctor’s appointments, and childbirth, but it could be other things. Some examples include: 

  • Flexible break times for drinking water or using the restroom
  • Changes in work schedule
  • Temporary reassignment
  • Providing equipment or modifying a workstation
  • Assigning light duty
  • Offloading some essential functions of the job

Employers are required to provide such accommodations as long as it would not cause any undue hardship to the organization. Under the law, undue hardship means “a significant difficulty or expense.”

The law also has provisions that provide safeguards that ensure qualified employees will get the adjustments that are right for their condition. For instance, employers can’t force employees to take reasonable accommodations aside from what both parties previously agreed on.  

While providing time off for qualified reasons is acceptable, employers can’t force employees to take leave when they can implement adjustments to keep them working their shifts. For instance, if a pregnant employee works a cash register and can’t stand for long hours, it would be non-compliance for employers if they forced the employee to take time off when they could provide a stool to keep the employee comfortable while working.

Under the PWFA, employers are also not allowed to deny an opportunity and punish employees for requesting reasonable accommodations. Coercing employees who are exercising their rights and people who help them do so is also prohibited under the law. 

Who are qualified employees under PWFA?

Qualified employees under the PWFA are those employees who can perform their duties and fundamental tasks with or without reasonable accommodation. Most employees would meet this requirement because they would most likely be able to perform their essential functions when they’re provided adjustments at work. 

But what if core work functions or duties need to be adjusted, such as when an employee can’t perform a task? Employees can still be qualified, provided that their inability is temporary and that they can return to their essential functions in the near future. For instance, if the job requires an employee to operate heavy equipment, employers may modify their task to only involve light work. 

Tips for complying with the PWFA

Complying with the PWFA is not just a legal obligation. It’s also about promoting a more inclusive work environment and improving retention. Here are some practical tips for implementing it in your organization.

Establish a process for PWFA

It’s all about communication and transparency. Employees must be aware of the law and how they can qualify and practice their rights under it. A process with a clear set of guidelines is essential. 

Obviously, it all starts with employees letting management know of their condition. Employees should know who to inform to get the ball rolling. Aside from their immediate supervisors, who else do they need to notify? 

The guidelines should also include the type of information qualified employees need to provide. However, it’s important to note that it’s not mandatory under the law to present medical records to request for reasonable accommodation, especially when the condition is very apparent. For instance, there is a need for schedule modifications because of morning sickness or the need for bigger uniforms down the line. 

However, employers may request medical documentation to confirm that the level of reasonable accommodation requested is appropriate. This pertains to work changes that warrant a suspension of one or more essential functions, such as if the employee must avoid exposure to certain chemicals or has a temporary inability to operate heavy equipment. In addition, employers should keep medical records confidential.

Train your managers

Much of the work around complying with PWFA is between the managers and frontline staff. Ensure your managers and supervisors are equipped to implement the law and identify qualified employees. Access to materials about the law and their role in implementing it can help them navigate it better. It also helps to familiarize them with other related laws, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). 

Stay on top of compliance with a workforce management platform

Navigating the PWFA will be less challenging when you have a system that helps you stay on top of it. 

On paper, it sounds simple to provide accommodations to pregnant and qualified employees under the law. However, it’s a more complex situation on the ground. can help run your team efficiently in compliance with PWFA, or any labor law for that matter. Here’s how: 

  • Accurate scheduling – When an employee is qualified under PWFA and needs scheduling changes, you can set qualifications so that you will be notified if you accidentally schedule them for shifts or stations that are inappropriate for their current condition.
  • Accessible handbook and training guides’s HRIS makes it easy for your frontline teams to access the employee handbook and other materials they need, such as your policy on PWFA. This can come in handy should your employees need to clarify any points in your policies or rules.
  • Easy way to stay on top of last-minute shift changes – In case qualified employees face an emergency that compels them to miss a shift, managers can quickly offer the vacant shift to available staff through’s shift bidding functionality.
  • A feedback platform for improving operations – has a shift feedback that prompts employees to rate their shifts. Use this to see if reasonable accommodations are still appropriate and to gauge how the rest of the team feels about the current setup.

The PWFA is a significant step to ensuring that pregnant workers can get the support they need in the workplace. Compliance can be challenging, but the right platform can simplify the process for you. With, you can reduce administrative burden, track accommodations, manage documentation, and ensure that all employees are treated fairly. Discover how can help you stay on top of every stage of the employee life cycle, from hiring to payroll. Book a call today

Jana Reserva is a content manager for

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