Guidelines to Accommodating Pregnancy in the Workplace

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“She’s having a baby” is exciting news but also presents some unique workplace challenges. Although small businesses may not be required to comply with laws that provide protection for pregnancy and childbirth, they may find it necessary to adopt some of these guidelines in order to hire and retain female employees.

What legal protections are available for pregnant employees and applicants?

The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978 prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on pregnancy, childbirth or related conditions. The PDA applies to businesses with 15 or more employees and to both applicants and employees.

The Louisiana Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA) requires businesses with more than 25 employees to provide unpaid leave for up to six weeks for “normal” pregnancies and up to four months for more serious “disabling” pregnancies or complications of childbirth.

Companies with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius are required to comply with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which allows up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for medical needs including pregnancy and childbirth.

Is FEPA leave in addition to FMLA leave?

Employees may be required to take FEPA leave concurrently with FMLA leave. This means that the six weeks is part of the 12 weeks, not in addition to the 12 weeks. This requirement should be clearly stated in the company’s employee handbook.

How are employers required to accommodate pregnancy and childbirth?
Effective August 1, 2021, the Louisiana Pregnancy Accommodation Law (also called Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act) requires businesses with more than 25 employees to provide “reasonable” accommodation for pregnant employees and applicants by:
·      Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by an applicant or employee with covered limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions
·      Providing scheduled, more frequent, or longer compensated break periods
·      Providing more frequent bathroom breaks
·      Providing a private place, other than a bathroom stall, for the purpose of expressing breast milk (though an employer is not required to
construct a permanent dedicated space for expressing breast milk)
·      Modifying food or drink policies
·      Providing seating or allow the employee to sit more frequently if the job requires the employee to stand
·      Providing assistance with manual labor and set limits on lifting
·      Temporarily transferring the employee to a less strenuous or less hazardous vacant position, if she is qualified
·      Providing job restructuring or light duty, if available

·      Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices necessary for performing essential job functions and/or modifying work schedules

“Reasonable” accommodation means that the change does not impose an “undue hardship” on the employer, requiring significant expense or creating a health and safety violation.

A notice regarding these new obligations must be provided to anyone hired after August 1, 2021 and to all employees by December 1. The Louisiana Workforce Commission is expected to create and publish a model notice to be posted by covered employers in the workplace by Dec. 1, 2021.

An HR professional can help business owners navigate these and other workplace changes.

From hiring the right employees, running background checks, creating employee handbooks that include anti-harassment policies and procedures, and so much more, Next Level Solutions can work with you to provide the services that you need to run your business.

For more information about our accounting and human resource services, contact Next Level Solutions at info@nextlevelsol.net or (225) 330-8347.