Finance and Operations; OUR Clemson

What to Know about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act 


The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) is a federal regulation, effective June 18, 2024, requiring covered employers like Clemson University to provide “reasonable accommodations” to faculty, staff and job applicants related to a condition affected by, related to, or arising out of pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition. One of the purposes of the PWFA is to provide pregnant employees with the ability to keep working while they are pregnant. 

The University already provides various accommodations and resources to employees under several other federal and state regulations like the South Carolina Pregnancy Accommodations Act, Title IX, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Paid Parental Leave (PPL), and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP) Act.    

The PWFA provides additional resources for faculty and staff experiencing pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, as well as requirements for supervisors and leaders regarding the provision of reasonable accommodations. 

Who does the PWFA protect? 

The PWFA provides for reasonable accommodations for qualified job applicants and Clemson University faculty, staff and student employees who have known “limitations.”  Under the PWFA, “limitations” are physical or mental conditions related to, affected by or arising out of pregnancy, childbirth or “related medical conditions.” 

The term “related medical conditions” encompasses conditions that relate to or arise out of pregnancy or childbirth, such as loss of pregnancy, gestational diabetes, fertility treatments, postpartum depression and lactation. A non-exhaustive list of related medical conditions inside the PWFA can be found in the Pregnancy-Related Accommodations Resource Guide.  

What is a “reasonable accommodation”?  

Reasonable accommodations are changes in the work environment or the way things are usually done. Faculty and staff may need different accommodations at different times before or during pregnancy or after childbirth. 

Some examples of accommodations under the PWFA include: 

  • Additional, longer or more flexible breaks to drink water, eat, rest or use the restroom 
  • Changing food or drink policies to allow for a water bottle or food 
  • Changing equipment, devices or workstations, such as providing a stool to sit on, or a way to do work while standing 
  • Remote work 
  • Temporary reassignment 
  • Light duty or help lifting or other manual labor 

This list is just some examples, and many other accommodations may exist. 

How do employees request accommodations? 

To request an accommodation, simply talk with your supervisor, an Office of Human Resources representative or someone in the Office of Access Compliance and Education. Requests do not have to be made in writing. An employee’s representative can also share the need for the accommodation. This may be a family member, a healthcare professional or someone aware of the employee’s need. 

Once you disclose the need for an accommodation, your supervisor should have a conversation with you regarding the known limitation and the reasonable accommodation. 

Employees can submit questions regarding this process using the Pregnancy-Related Accommodation Support form

What should supervisors do if they receive an accommodation request? 

Once an employee discloses a need for an accommodation to the University, this starts the “interactive process,” where the supervisor and the employee discuss the known limitation and the adjustment or change needed at work.  

Supervisors should respond promptly to accommodation requests. If it does not cause an undue hardship, the employer generally must provide reasonable accommodation—either what the employee or applicant requests or another effective accommodation. 

If the supervisor is unsure about granting the accommodation because of an undue hardship, they should use the Pregnancy-Related Accommodation Support form to request support reviewing the accommodation immediately. 

Supervisors must document the accommodation provided, share it with the employee and save it for their records. When documenting the provided accommodation, include the requested start and end date of the accommodation (if applicable), the employee’s name and the accommodation provided.

What resources are available to help faculty and staff understand the PWFA? 

The Office of Human Resources has developed a website to house valuable information on the PWFA and other resources regarding pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. The site houses information on the accommodation process, the process to request parental leave and links to other resources on FMLA, PPL, the lactation network and more. 

What resources are available to assist supervisors in complying with the PWFA? 

Supervisors will receive an email from the Office of Human Resources later this week detailing PWFA compliance. Supervisors will also be enrolled in PWFA training through Tiger Training in the coming months to ensure they have adequate resources to provide reasonable accommodations for employees. 

A website has also been developed for supervisors to serve as a resource when working with employees to provide accommodations.  

Questions regarding the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act or providing reasonable accommodations should be submitted via the Pregnancy-Related Accommodation Support form

How does the new Title IX rule impact pregnant workers? 

The federal government also recently approved changes to Title IX, which protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. Those changes will go into effect on August 1, 2024. 

This article provides information about the PWFA. Faculty and staff can expect to receive more information about Title IX and its requirements later this summer.