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How do PWFA and PDL compare for pregnant workers?

In California, pregnant workers are protected by two distinct laws. These laws are the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL). Although they provide essential safeguards for pregnant employees, they work differently. In light of this, employers must avoid discrimination or other sanctions against pregnant workers.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The PWFA is a federal law that took effect on June 27, 2023. It protects pregnant workers and those recovering from childbirth should they need more time to adjust at work. Employers with at least 15 employees must provide reasonable accommodations to workers who need extra care because of limits surrounding their pregnancy. These accommodations can include

  • Changes in work schedules
  • Longer breaks
  • A comfortable place to work in

Both parties should discuss other adjustments to make work more effective for the worker. Consequently, the law also prohibits employers from discriminating against pregnant or disabled workers.

The Pregnancy Disability Leave

On the other hand, PDL is a California state law that offers workers unpaid, job-protected leave for pregnancy disability. During PDL, an employer must keep the employee’s health insurance coverage. Plus, they must help employees return to the same or another equal job when they no longer experience maternal medical conditions. Further, PDL also includes:

  • More breaks
  • Time for prenatal or postnatal medical appointments
  • Doctor-ordered bed rest
  • Severe morning sickness
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Pregnancy-induced hypertension
  • Preeclampsia
  • Recovery from childbirth
  • Pregnancy loss or postpartum depression

Both laws protect pregnant workers in California. However, to compare, the PWFA applies only to accommodations for pregnancy-related medical conditions. At the same time, the PDL offers unpaid leave for those experiencing the aftereffects of childbirth.

Pregnant workers have the right to get support and accommodations from their employers. This enables them to perform their jobs safely and effectively. Doing so creates a welcoming and supportive work environment for all workers, including those who are pregnant.