HR Policy-Supported Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Moves Forward

August 06, 2021

With strong backing from HR Policy and others in the business community, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee passed the House-approved Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (S. 1486), setting up a vote in the full Senate.

Our letter backing Committee approval states: “Employers currently face great uncertainty about whether, and how, they are required to accommodate pregnant workers.  The PWFA would clarify an employer’s obligation to accommodate a pregnant employee or applicant with a known limitation that interferes with her ability to perform some essential functions of her position.” 

The PWFA would require employers to provide "reasonable accommodations" for pregnant employees and job applicants.  The reasonable accommodation standard and associated protections proposed by the PWFA largely resemble what employers are currently required to do for employees with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The ADA does not consider pregnancy a disability, nor is it generally considered a disability.

Forward momentum, signs of bipartisanship:  A version of the PWFA has been put forward every Congress since 2012.  Last year marked the first time the bill passed the House, with a vote of 329–73, but it was not taken up in the Senate.  This May, with input and support from the business community and broad bipartisan backing, the bill again passed the House.  The HELP Committee’s approval sets the legislation up for a full Senate vote.