New Laws Provide More Federal Protections for Pregnant & Nursing Employees

New Laws Provide More Federal Protections for Pregnant & Nursing Employees

By Blayne Soleymani-Pearson
Barran Leibman,

On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed two pieces of legislation that expand protections for pregnant and nursing workers: the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act.

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”)

Employers with 15 or more employees must make reasonable accommodations for employees affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions absent an undue hardship.

Employer Prohibitions Under the Act:
• Denying employment opportunities to employees based on their need for reasonable accommodation described above.
• Forcing an employee to accept an accommodation other than the reasonable one arrived at and agreed to through the interactive process.
• Requiring that a qualifying employee take paid or unpaid leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided.
• Taking adverse actions against a qualified employee requesting or using reasonable accommodations related to the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.
The PWFA becomes effective on June 27, 2023.

PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act

Since 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has required that employers with 50 or more employees provide a nursing mother reasonable break time and location to express breast milk after the birth of a child for up to one year after childbirth. The location must not be a bathroom and must be shielded from view and free from employee and public intrusion. The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act expands on the ACA requirements with additional protections for employees who need to express breast milk. These protections went into effect on December 29, 2022.

Additional Requirements:

• Salaried and other workers not covered by the ACA are now covered.
• Time spent to express breast milk must be considered hours worked if the employee is also working.
• The time after birth is extended from 1 to 2 years.
• Employees must first notify the employer that they are not in compliance and provide them with 10 days to come into compliance before making a claim of liability.
The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are expected to release additional guidance to assist employers in complying with these new laws in the coming months. Employers should review handbooks and pregnancy accommodation policies, and train supervisors, managers, and HR staff about how to implement these policies.

Remember that many states have their own robust protections. For details about Oregon’s Pregnancy Accommodation laws, check out our past E-Alert.

For questions on compliance with these rules or other employee accommodation matters, contact Blayne Soleymani-Pearson here.

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