Preparing for the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act — Effective April 1, 2018

The Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (the “Act”) goes into effect on April 1, 2018 and has immediate implications for all Massachusetts employers who employ six or more employees. Broadly speaking, the Act amends the current statute prohibiting discrimination in employment, G.L. c. 151B, §4, and prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, such as lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child. The Act also describes employers’ obligations to employees that are pregnant or lactating and the protections to which these employees are entitled.

The full text of the law may be found here, and corresponding guidance issued by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) may be found here. For further analysis of the Act, see our 2017 blog post.

Importantly, employers should be aware of several notice requirements under the Act. First and foremost, the Act requires employers to provide written notice to employees of the right to be free from discrimination due to pregnancy or a condition related to pregnancy, including the right to reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy, in a handbook, pamphlet, or other means of notice no later than April 1, 2018. After April 1, 2018, employers must also provide written notice to (1) all new hires prior to their start dates, and (2) any employee who notifies the employer of a pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition within 10 days of the employee giving the employer notice.

Conn Kavanaugh has prepared a draft written notice for employers, available here. However, employers should tailor their written notice to their own businesses.

If you have any questions about the Act and how to comply with its requirements, please contact one of Conn Kavanaugh’s employment attorneys.

KATHLEEN R. O’TOOLE

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