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Update: Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Published:  June 23, 2017

A few weeks ago, we wrote about an anticipated change in Massachusetts employment law.  On May 10, 2017, the Massachusetts House of Representatives unanimously passed H.3680, or the “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.”  The following day, the bill was referred to the Massachusetts’ Senate Committee on Ways and Means.   At the time, we discussed the problems that would be caused by the bill if it were to be passed in its current form.  Since that post, we have been eagerly waiting and monitoring the bills progress in the Massachusetts Senate.

Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means reported favorably on the legislation, but recommended that the text of H.3680 be replaced by Senate bill S.2093.  For those who have not had the time to analyze S.2093, or H.3680 for that matter, we’ll save you the time… it’s almost identical.  With the exception of formalistic drafting difference, there is little difference between H.3680 and S.2093.  Furthermore, there is no indication that it remains overwhelmingly popular among the majority of Mass. Senators and Governor Baker.  Therefore, most of the original concerns remain.  Among the most important, there is no guidance on the duration for which an employer is responsible for providing continuing reasonable accommodations after an employee gives birth.   

The bright spot? The Senate bill addressed one of our big concerns.  Perhaps the only substantial divergence from the House bill was the addition of an effective date, and a relatively reasonable effective date at that.  Under Section 5 of S.2093, the amendments to M.G.L. 151B would not go into effect until April 1, 2018.  Assuming this legislation passes by October 2017, the effective date would give employers six months to prepare.  This isn’t a lot of time, but it’s twice the default time period of 90 days. 

There is still time to address the remaining flaws in the legislation, but not much.  The Senate plans to take up the bill on Thursday, June 29, 2017.  It is imperative that employers express their remaining concerns to their State Senators soon.  

If you have any questions about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, please contact the attorneys at Royal, P.C.