No one should have to choose between a paycheck and a healthy pregnancy. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) would ensure that pregnant workers receive workplace accommodations when they need them by requiring employers to make the same sorts of accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to make for workers with disabilities. This enables pregnant workers to continue to do their jobs and support their families without risking their health. Because pregnancy itself is temporary, these accommodations would also be temporary, and often no-cost or low-cost, such as providing a stool to sit on rather than requiring a pregnant employee to stand during a shift or allowing a pregnant worker to keep a bottle of water by their workstation. Providing accommodations ensures that people can work safely while pregnant instead of getting pushed out of work.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is especially important considering that many pregnant workers work in physically demanding or hazardous jobs, and thus may be especially likely to need reasonable temporary accommodations at some point during their pregnancy. As the data in this analysis shows, many pregnant workers hold jobs that require standing and making continuous movements, which can raise particular challenges during pregnancy. Research shows that physically demanding work—including jobs that require prolonged standing, long work hours, irregular work schedules, heavy lifting, or high physical activity—carries an increased risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight, both of which can be associated with life-long health conditions for the child. Some jobs held by pregnant workers may require accommodations because they involve potential exposure to infectious disease daily at work, including COVID-19. Certain illnesses contracted during pregnancy can cause severe complications including preterm birth, miscarriage, and stillbirth.