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Comparing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and California Pregnancy Disability Leave

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

The federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PFWA) went into effect June 27, 2023.

Employers with 15 or more employees must provide “reasonable accommodations'' to employees and applicants with regards to pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions, unless these accommodations result in “undue hardship” for the employer. The PWFA is meant to fill gaps in previous federal, state, and local laws and regulations, as pregnancy is not considered a disability by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


How does this relate to California Pregnancy Disability Leave?

California Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) requires employers with over 5 employees to provide up to four months (17 1/3 weeks) of unpaid leave per pregnancy to address disability related to pregnancy. Pregnant workers who are not disabled by pregnancy but who are otherwise affected by pregnancy are entitled to reasonable accommodations. Pregnant employees who go on disability leave may be eligible for State Disability Insurance benefits while taking PDL.


Although the federal PWFA and California PDL provide similar rights regarding reasonable accommodation during pregnancy, the PDL goes further by establishing unpaid leave and rights to return to work following pregnancy.


What does this mean for you?

If you exclusively employ workers who reside in California, the PWFA likely does not impact the pregnancy disability leave and accommodations you are already required to provide. If you employ workers outside of California, you should review your current policies to ensure they comply with current federal and state laws, and make corrections as needed.


Either way, remember to keep an open dialogue with your employees so both you and your team are aware of your rights and responsibilities!


If you have questions about pregnancy policies or how to support your pregnant workers, let us know!


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