Benefits Administration, Benefits Communications, Open Enrollment, Voluntary Benefits

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: How HR Can Further Support Pregnant, Postpartum, and Parental Employees

July 27, 2023 | Winston

On June 27th, 2023, The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act went into effect, which requires covered employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant and postpartum workers. Some examples of these accommodations include allowing pregnant workers to sit and drink water, having closer parking, flexible hours, and appropriately-fitted uniforms. It also requires employers to provide time off for recovery for postpartum workers as long as it does not cause an employer “undue hardship.”

This law will not affect how some companies treat their pregnant and postpartum workers, as they already offer many of these accommodations. However, the new law has put into perspective the hardships some workers experience before, during, and after pregnancy, prompting employers to take more initiative in supporting them. Today, we’re looking at some voluntary benefits that companies can implement to further accommodate their pregnant, postpartum, and new parent workers and to ensure their comfort in and out of the workplace.

Extended Parental Leave

The United States is one of the few countries that does not offer national paid leave. Paid parental leave through an employer is also not guaranteed for many workers; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 1 in 4 employees in the private sector workforce have access to paid family leave.

The lack of leave for mothers and new parents post-pregnancy is an issue that affects nearly every workforce and can be emotionally and physically harmful for both parent and child. For example, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families, increases in paid parental and maternity leave decreases the rate of infant mortality, and less than eight weeks of paid leave is linked to a reduction in overall health status and increased depression. Therefore, consider updating your parental leave package to ensure your workers are prioritized after pregnancy/childbirth. Not only can this lead to happier and healthier workers, but it will also likely increase the retention rate within your organization.

Childcare Benefits

Childcare benefits are a popular topic amongst benefits professionals and have been for some time. This is because many workers now consider this once uncommon benefit a non-negotiable when considering employment. Many eligible workers, particularly mothers and grandmothers, are leaving the workforce because of expensive daycares, childcare disruptions, and inflexible schedules.

According to The 19th News, one in four employees reported being fired last year due to the continuing breakdown of childcare for their kids. Accessible, reliable childcare is a benefit that can help parents with younger children or children who need specialized care stay in the workforce and ensure peace of mind. If you’re interested in offering childcare benefits to your employees, consider offering stipends, access to pre-selected childcare centers aligned with the company, or even childcare centers on- or near site.

While pregnant and postpartum workers are now protected by law from discrimination and unreasonable accommodations in the workplace, adding these voluntary benefits to support all stages of early parenthood can help further increase company loyalty, productivity, and retention. Enlist the help of our benefits professionals at Winston to help curate and implement a benefits package to support your pregnant, postpartum, and parental employees this upcoming open enrollment season. Learn more about what we do!

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