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New Jersey Latest State to Extend Protection to Pregnant Employees

The move to end discrimination against pregnancy in the workforce has taken another step. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed the Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act (PWFA) on January 21, 2014, becoming the latest state to extend their accommodation requirements to pregnant workers.

The PWFA - an amendment to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination - takes effect immediately and applies to all employers in the state with the exception of federal employers. The regulation prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, including a provision that employers must provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees upon the advice of a physician unless it will bring undue hardship upon the business. Examples of accommodations include providing bathroom or rest breaks, modifying work schedules, and providing temporary transfers to less strenuous or hazardous work.

This law follows closely on the heels of Maryland which recently signed the Reasonable Accommodations for Disabilities Due to Pregnancy Law, which took effect on October 1, 2013. Similar to the New Jersey regulation, the law requires employers with at least 15 employees to provide accommodations to employees who are disabled due to pregnancy, unless the accommodation would cause undue hardship.

California made amendments to the Pregnancy Disability Leave and the California Family Rights Act at the end of 2012 to extend coverage to “perceived pregnancy,” defined as “being regarded or treated by an employer or other covered entity as being pregnant or having a related medical condition.” The new regulation applies to employers with at least five employees and provides up to four months of pregnancy disability leave to employees who are “disabled by pregnancy.”

New Jersey, Maryland and California are just a few of the states that have passed legislation making pregnancy disability a qualifying condition under disability plans and preventing employers from taking otherwise adverse action against pregnant and nursing mothers. Some states have also enacted legislation to ensure women are not penalized for taking breastfeeding breaks.

If you operate in any of the jurisdictions above, make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities and ensure that the provisions are included in your employee handbook and clearly communicated to employees.

Have a question about any of the regulations above? Contact us!

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Founded in 1987, Presagia has a long history of helping organizations solve complex business problems with easy-to-use solutions. Today, this means providing cloud-based absence management solutions that enable organizations to be more efficient, control lost time and risk, and strengthen compliance with federal, state and municipal leave and accommodation laws.

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