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Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: Documentation Guidelines

Monday, January 29, 2024
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: Documentation Guidelines

As of June 27, 2023, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) requires employers with a workforce of 15 or more to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions unless it would cause undue hardship. The PWFA also restricts when an employer may require medical or other documentation from an individual who requests accommodation under the law.

Reasonable for a Determination

An employer may require supporting documentation for a PWFA request only if it is reasonable to do so under the circumstances for the employer to determine whether to grant the accommodation.

Documentation Reasonableness

PWFA documentation itself must also be reasonable. This is defined as only confirming the physical or mental condition, the relation to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, and the need for a change at work.

Not Reasonable to Require Documentation

Examples of when it would not be reasonable for an employer to require documentation are:

  • When both the limitation and the accommodation need are obvious;
  • When the employer has sufficient information to substantiate that the individual has a limitation and needs an adjustment at work;
  • When a pregnant employee seeks certain modifications, such as carrying and drinking water as needed, taking more restroom or snack breaks as needed, and alternating sitting and standing; and
  • When the limitation for which an accommodation is needed involves lactation.

Efficiency Goal

The overarching goal of the PWFA is to assist workers affected by pregnancy to remain on the job by providing them with simple accommodations quickly.

No Document Requirement

PWFA accommodations may be small, temporary modifications that do not always lend themselves to medical documentation.

Required Accommodations

Under the PWFA, certain accommodations, such as more breaks for eating or drinking, must be provided without demanding documentation.

Three Details Permitted

The information an employer may require is limited to documentation that an individual has a physical or mental condition, that the condition is pregnancy-related and that a change at work is needed for that reason.

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.