Pregnancy Accommodations

In 2017, the Legislature passed a new law providing specific civil rights protections for pregnant employees. If a pregnant employee works for an employer with 15 employees or more, she has the right to the following accommodations:

  • Providing frequent, longer, or flexible restroom breaks;
  • Modifying a no food or drink policy;
  • Providing seating or allowing the employee to sit more frequently; and
  • Limiting lifting to 17 pounds or less.

Employers may not ask for written certification from a healthcare professional for the accommodations above.

 

In addition, a pregnant employee may have rights to other workplace accommodation(s), as long as there is no significant difficulty or expense to the employer. These are:

  • Job restructuring, including modifying a work schedule, job reassignment, changing a work station, or providing equipment;
  • Providing a temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position;
  • Scheduling flexibility for prenatal visits;
  • Providing any further accommodations the employee may need.

Employers may request written certification from a health care professional regarding the need for these accommodations, or for restrictions on lifting less than 17 pounds.

 

More worker rights coming in 2019-20

Starting in 2020, Washington will be the fifth state in the nation to offer paid family and medical leave benefits to workers. The program will be funded by premiums paid by both employees and many employers, and will be administered by the Employment Security Department (ESD). This insurance program will allow workers to take necessary time off when they welcome a new child into their family, are struck by a serious illness or injury, or need to take care of an ill or ailing relative. As directed by the Legislature, premium payments begin on Jan. 1, 2019 and benefits can be taken starting Jan. 1, 2020.

For more information, see Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) (www.esd.wa.gov).

 

To request information or to file a complaint about pregnancy and work place accommodations contact the Attorney General’s Office or call 833-389-2427.


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