Utah Employers Must Afford Additional Protections to Pregnant Women

The Utah State Legislature has passed Senate Bill 59 (“SB 59”) requiring Utah employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding if the employee requests an accommodation, unless doing so would create an undue hardship for the employer. Employers will also be required to post written notice of an employee’s rights under this law in a conspicuous place and/or in its handbook.

Accommodations may take a variety of forms, such as providing private rooms for breastfeeding, restricting lifting requirements, or providing more frequent breaks. The law will not require employers to allow an employee to bring a child to the workplace for accommodation purposes.

Employers may require medical certification prior to granting the employee’s accommodation request unless the request is for more frequent restroom, food, or water breaks. A certification must include the date the accommodation becomes medically advisable, the probable duration of the accommodation, and a statement of explanation of the medical advisability of the accommodation.

SB 59 comes on the heels of two laws passed in the 2015 legislative session that added “breastfeeding and medical conditions related to breastfeeding” to the definition of “pregnancy, childbirth, or pregnancy-related conditions.” These laws required public employers to provide employees with reasonable breaks and access to a clean, private room with an electrical outlet as well as access to a refrigerator or freezer for storage of breast milk. SB 59 amends the public employer requirement by allowing public employers to provide non-electric insulated storage (for expressed breast milk) for employees not working in an office building. This provision has not, however, been extended to private employers.

Once this bill is signed by the governor, it will go into effect May 2016.