As of April 1, 2018, all Massachusetts employers with six (6) or more employees are subject to the state’s new Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (the “Act”).
In light of the pre-existing federal law in this area, what is most notable about the Act is that it requires covered employers to provide:
• non-exempt and exempt employees with reasonable breaks and an appropriately private place to express breast milk;
• written notice to their employees regarding the rights provided under the Act; and
• reasonable accommodation(s) to employees on the basis of pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions.
Reasonable accommodations may include thing like frequent or longer breaks, light duty, or a modified work schedule.
It is unlawful to retaliate against employees for requesting such an accommodation. Likewise, employers cannot deny an employment opportunity to an employee if the denial is based on the employer’s knowledge that it would have to provide the employee a reasonable accommodation, nor can an employer refuse to hire someone on the basis of pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition, provided that person can perform the job (with a reasonable accommodation, if necessary).
Employers must provide the required written notice in a handbook, pamphlet, or other appropriate form to:
• current employees on or before the effective date of the Act;
• a newly-hired employee at the time of his or her hire; and
• any employee who notifies the employer of a pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition, within 10 days of such notice.
Employers may satisfy the written notice requirement using the two-page Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Guidance published in part for this purpose by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). The MCAD has also published a helpful Q&A regarding the Act. Should you have questions concerning compliance with the Act or other matters, speak with an experienced employment attorney.