EEOC broadens employers' obligations to pregnant workers

The updated workplace regulations require companies with at least 15 employees to make such concessions as allowing expectant mothers to sit down while working and adjusting schedules to permit time for doctor visits.
More accommodations will be required of employers. | Photo: Shutterstock

Restaurants that employ at least 15 workers will be required to provide more accommodations for pregnant staff members under the updated workplace regulations that were released Monday by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The new rules essentially broaden the definition of “reasonable accommodation” for employers of the expectant women. The EEOC provided extensive lists of what would likely be regarded as realistic concessions and which may be too burdensome for a business.

The examples of reasonable accommodation range from allowing a pregnant employee to work while sitting down, to permitting time off for doctors visits. The women would also be entitled to more frequent bathroom breaks and additional opportunities to eat and drink.

Employers will also be obliged to adjust hours and duties as needed to accommodate pregnancy-related ailments such as morning sickness and migraines.

If a requested accommodation is not deemed reasonable by the employer, the business is required to explain why to the employee requesting the concession, instead of merely telling them, “No.”

The new regulations are the result of a rule-making process that began with the passage by Congress of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in June 2023. The measure was aimed at ensuring the reasonable needs of pregnant workers be accommodated by employers the way reasonable concessions are made for persons with disabilities.

The final rules previewed Monday will be published in the Federal Register on Friday and will take effect 60 days later, or around June 19.

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