As WLG’s blog recently reported, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was gaining momentum this spring. Even more recently, both chambers of the Massachusetts Legislature passed their own bills, but they differ slightly. The House passed its version of the bill (H. 3680) unanimously on May 10, 2017. The Senate passed its bill (S. 2093) unanimously on June 29, 2017.
Both bills offer pregnant workers reasonable accommodations, including more frequent or longer paid or unpaid breaks, time off to recover from childbirth with or without pay, acquisition or modification of equipment, seating, temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position, job restructuring, light-duty, break time and private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk, assistance with manual labor, or modified work schedules. Employers are not required to provide an accommodation if it can show it would impose an undue hardship.
It is not yet clear how the House and Senate will handle the minor differences that currently exist between their two bills. It is possible that the two bills could be referred to a conference committee to be reconciled. As reported by the Worcester Telegram, Senator Joan Lovely, the sponsor of the Senate bill, said: “We’ll see if it needs any type of conference committee oversight, we’re not really sure at this point,” she told reporters. “The bills are so close.” See Telegram article here.
Governor Baker is reported to have expressed support for the protections provided in the bills, so these bills could become law very soon. Once the final language is agreed upon and passed, WLG will update its blog with guidance for employers.