The new federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act went into effect June 27. Businesses need to replace their old Know Your Rights poster with the new notice that you can download here. Although the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has been implemented at the federal level, Washington state businesses are not significantly impacted due to the existing law in place that offers protection for pregnant workers.

Note: This is different than the previous United States Department of Labor FMLA poster update entitled Your Employee Rights Under the Family and Medical Leave Act. If you missed it, access it here

This law, called the Healthy Starts Act, extends certain protections and benefits to employees who are pregnant or have recently given birth. This act applies to all employers with 15 or more employees. It requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees and prohibits discrimination against employees based on pregnancy or childbirth-related conditions. The goal of the Healthy Starts Act is to provide pregnant employees with support and reasonable accommodation during their pregnancy and after giving birth.

Key components of the Healthy Starts Act

Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for the following:

  • Providing more frequent, longer and flexible restroom breaks.
  • Modification of no food or drink policies for pregnant employees.
  • Providing seating or allowing pregnant employees to sit more frequently.
  • Limiting lifting to 17 pounds or less.
  • Providing a private location (other than a bathroom) to express breast milk for up to two years after giving birth.

(Note: Employers are not permitted to request medical certification for the above accommodations.)

Additional accommodations employees may request include:

(Note: Employers may request written certification from a health care professional for these accommodations.)

  • Job restructuring including a part time or modified work schedule, job reassignment, changing a workstation or providing equipment.
  • Offering temporary transfers to less hazardous or less strenuous positions.
  • Granting scheduling flexibility for prenatal visits.
  • Supplying other accommodation that the employee requests

The Healthy Starts Act also prevents employers from retaliating against pregnant employees, denying employment opportunities and requiring leave if alternatives are available.

To see the complete list visit Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.