Massachusetts: Increased Employer Responsibilities to Accommodate Pregnancy

APPLIES TO

All Employers with MA Employees

EFFECTIVE

April 1, 2018

QUESTIONS?

Contact HR On-Call

(888) 378-2456

Recently signed into law on July 27, 2017, the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (the “Act”) goes into effect on April 1, 2018 and builds on existing anti-discrimination regulations. The Act specifically requires employers to provide accommodations for the needs of pregnant Massachusetts employees, including accommodations for nursing mothers, and new notice and recordkeeping requirements.

Reasonable Accommodations.  The Act treats pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions similar to other disabilities.  Employers will be required to engage in a good faith, interactive process to determine what reasonable accommodations can be made for the affected employee.  Examples of reasonable accommodations include things like providing seating, providing more frequent or longer breaks (paid or unpaid), modifying work schedules, or shifting the employee to light duty or less physically strenuous tasks.

Lactation Accommodation.  Employers must provide nursing employees with reasonable break time to express milk for a one year period following the birth of a child.  Employees must also be provided a private, non-restroom space to express milk.

Interactive Process.  Employers must engage in a good faith, interactive process to determine what reasonable accommodations (including for lactation) may be made to enable a pregnant employee or applicant to complete the essential functions of their job.

Recordkeeping.  Employers are generally permitted to request documentation to support the need for an accommodation, except for common pregnancy accommodations, such as more frequent rest, food, or water breaks, seating, limitations on lifting objects over 20 pounds, or for a private area to express milk.

Notice Requirements.  Employers must provide a written notice detailing employees’ rights under the Act to:

  • All new employees at the time of hire;
  • Existing employees by April 1, 2018; and
  • Any employee who notifies the employer of their pregnant status within 10 days of receipt of such notification.

Action Items

  1. Read the text of the Act here.
  2. Arrange for training of supervisory staff on the increased protections afforded to pregnant employees, including the interactive process for reasonable accommodations and new notice requirements.
  3. Post a notice that outlines employee rights under the Act in a conspicuous location in the workplace, and provide to all employees no later than April 1, 2018. A notice will be provided to Blue Rock subscribers before the deadline.
  4. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2017 ManagEase, Incorporated.

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