At the end of 2022, accommodations for pregnant and nursing employees were signed into law as part of Congress’ $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill.
The new measures extend protections from some states to apply nationwide.
Here are some key elements of the new laws:
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)
The PWFA extends protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) to pregnant workers who are looking for workplace accommodations.
Under the Act, an employer with 15 or more employees may not:
- Refuse to make reasonable accommodations to the known limitations related to the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of a qualified employee, unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of its business.
- Require a qualified employee affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions to accept an accommodation other than any reasonable accommodation arrived at through an interactive process.
- Deny employment opportunities to a qualified employee if that denial is based on the employer’s need to make reasonable accommodations to the known limitations related to the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of a qualified employee.
- Require a qualified employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided to the known limitations related to their pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
- Take an adverse employment action against a qualified employee on account of the employee requesting or using a reasonable accommodation to the known limitations related to their pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
The PWFA, which will be enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), includes a private right of action after an employee has exhausted their administrative remedies.
The law directs the EEOC to issue rules to implement the law. Enforcement must begin within two years of the law being enacted.
The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act
The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act applies the same workplace protections for nursing mothers adopted under the Affordable Care Act in 2010, and now includes salaried workers as well.
Under the new law, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is amended to require employers with 50 or more employees to provide reasonable break time for all employees to express breast milk as needed. The bill states that such breaks aren’t required to be paid, unless the employee is still on the clock or “not completely relieved from duty” during the breaks.
The Act goes into effect 120 days after its enactment.