Know Your Rights at Work During and After Pregnancy

By Kerry Weiss
September 28, 2023

For the text version of this infographic, read on:

Workplace Rights During and After Pregnancy

Many people can work throughout pregnancy and after they give birth with no issues.

However, others require workplace accommodations. These are changes to the job that help keep pregnant people and their babies safe and healthy.

Why You May Need Workplace Accommodations

During pregnancy, some tasks or settings might not be safe for you and your developing baby.

Workplace accommodations can help if your job:

  • Is physically demanding (for example, it requires heavy lifting or prolonged periods of standing).
  • Requires irregular hours or long shifts.
  • Exposes you to toxins, such as lead, pesticides, or radiation.
  • Increases your exposure to infectious diseases, like COVID-19.

You may also need changes if:

After you give birth, you or your baby may have health needs that interfere with work.

Workplace accommodations can help if you:

  • Need extra medical leave to heal.
  • Experience a postpartum mood disorder, such as postpartum depression (PPD).
  • Breastfeed or chestfeed and need to pump at work.

Workplace Accommodations Are Now Protected by Law

Each year, thousands of pregnant people file workplace discrimination complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

According to a 2022 poll, 23% of working mothers have considered leaving a job because of a lack of reasonable accommodations or fear of employer discrimination.

Workplace accommodations have been put into law to:

  • Prevent workplace discrimination.
  • Ensure you’re able to work with no gap in income or benefits.
  • Provide job protections.

All while protecting the health of you and your baby.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

On June 27, 2023, after years of advocacy, a law known as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) went into effect.

This law requires most employers to provide reasonable accommodations to a worker who has limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related health issues (as long as it doesn’t pose a significant difficulty or cost to the employer).

It covers various accommodations within a work environment or around how a job is done.

Examples of Reasonable Accommodations

Reasonable accommodations covered by PWFA during pregnancy and the postpartum period include:

  • Assigned parking close to your office
  • A flexible work schedule
  • Appropriate sizing for uniforms and safety apparel
  • Arrangements to perform a standing job while seated
  • Temporary adjustment in job duties
  • Exemptions from strenuous activities
  • Exemptions from activities involving toxin exposure
  • Regular access to drinking water
  • Additional bathroom, snack, and rest breaks
  • Parental leave after childbirth

How to Ask Your Employer for Accommodations

It’s federal law that these are your rights in the workplace. So, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for the accommodations you need.

Here’s how you might ask:

1. Schedule a meeting with your manager or human resources (HR) rep.

2. State that your pregnancy, condition, or situation is making it difficult to do your job.

3. Provide details. Describe the part(s) of your job you’d like accommodations for.

4. Propose ideas for accommodations that may help solve the issue(s).

What to Do If You’re Not Given What You Need

If you’ve asked for reasonable accommodation and been denied, you may need to take additional action:

1. Ask for details around why your request was denied.

2. Share information about the new PWFA law. Go to for resources you can pass to your manager or HR department.

3. Offer to brainstorm together. This may help to find a solution that works for everyone.

4. If your needs still aren’t met, file an appeal with someone higher up in the company for further review.

If you’re still having issues getting everyone on the same page regarding reasonable accommodations, consider reaching out to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at Or contact a lawyer for advice.

Finding accommodations can allow you to keep working during pregnancy and the postpartum period. That can help you receive pay, benefits, and job security while protecting your health and your baby’s.


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2018) Employment Considerations During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period.

The Bipartisan Policy Center Polling Presentation. (2022) Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace. Morning Consult.

Job Accommodation Network. Your Accommodation Request Was Denied. What Now? Accessed September 8, 2023.

Pregnant@Work. Helping Patients Seek Postpartum Accommodation. Center for WorkLife Law. University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Accessed September 8, 2023.

Tucker, J. et al. (2021) Pregnant Workers Need Accommodations for Safe and Healthy Workplaces. National Women’s Law Center.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission