We want to share the following information with our Massachusetts customers regarding the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which went into effect on April 1, 2018.

The Act is an amendment to the Massachusetts discrimination in employment law, enforced by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). The new law prohibits employment discrimination based on pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions, including breastfeeding and the need to express breast milk during work hours.

Employers should note that there is no poster requirement for the Act. However, employers are required to provide written notice to employees of their right to be free from discrimination due to pregnancy or a related condition, as well as their right to receive reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy.

The written notification may be provided in a company handbook, a pamphlet, or by other means, and must be distributed as follows:

  • To new employees on the first day of employment
  • To existing employees within 10 days of their notification to the employer of a pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition such as lactation, or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child

When a request for an accommodation for pregnancy or a related condition is received, the employer must engage in an interactive process with the employee (or applicant) to determine a reasonable accommodation that would enable the employee to perform essential job functions—without undue hardship to the employer.

Reasonable accommodations might include different seating options; additional restroom, food, and water breaks; and a private space for expressing breast milk other than a bathroom. An “undue hardship” is defined in the law as an accommodation that would cause significant difficulty or expensive for the employer.

Last but certainly not least, under the Act, employers may not deny an employment opportunity to an applicant or an existing employee or take adverse action against an employee based on a request for a reasonable accommodation due to pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition.

For more information about the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, you can go to the following website provided by the MCAD: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/mcad-guidance-on-the-pregnant-workers-fairness-act

Future Changes

Two additional laws we are tracking for Massachusetts are the new Pay Equity law, effective 7/1/18, and an amendment to the Ban the Box law that appears in the recently passed Criminal Justice law, which goes into effect on 10/13/18.

As the most reliable resource for mandatory labor law posters, you can always count on Poster Compliance Center to keep you informed about new laws and related employer requirements.