Kentucky recently enacted the Pregnant Workers Act, which amends the Kentucky Civil Rights Act to provide accommodations to pregnant and lactating employees. The law goes into effect on June 27, 2019. Below are the important implications of the Pregnant Workers Act, which will affect employers that operate or maintain business locations in Kentucky.

Who does the law cover?

Covered employers are those that employ 15 or more persons during 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. Employees limited by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, including lactation, are eligible for reasonable accommodations under this law.

What are reasonable accommodations?

Covered employers must engage in a timely, good faith and interactive process to determine effective reasonable accommodations for the employee. The law goes beyond what the federal law  specifically requires, in that it identifies a number of reasonable accommodations to consider:

  • More frequent or longer breaks
  • Time off to recover from childbirth
  • Acquisition or modification of equipment
  • Appropriate seating
  • Temporary transfer to a less strenuous or less hazardous position
  • Job restructuring
  • Light duty
  • Modified work schedule
  • Private space, that is not a bathroom, for expressing breast milk

Employers cannot require an employee to take time off of work, if another reasonable accommodation is available.

Like under federal law, covered employers are not required to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, if doing so would result in an undue hardship. A number of factors may be considered when determining whether a particular accommodation is an undue hardship, including the duration of the requested accommodation and whether similar accommodations are required by policy or past practice for any group of employees. If a covered employer has provided or is required to provide a similar accommodation to another group of employees, there is a rebuttable presumption that the particular accommodation will not pose an undue hardship on the employer.

Are there any notice requirements?

Employers must give new employees written notice of the right to reasonable accommodations at the commencement of employment and to existing employees no later than July 27, 2019. Finally, employers must display a written notice of the right to reasonable accommodations.

Next steps

Employers with operations in Kentucky should review full details of the law with counsel and update policies and notices to comply with the Pregnant Workers Act. These types of laws are a growing trend across the U.S. Multi-state employers should be aware of similar pregnancy accommodation laws in a number of other states.

Special thanks to Taeylor Stanley for her assistance on this article.