Do you have pregnant employees, employees returning from parental leave, or employees who have had a child or children in the last year? Recent updates to two laws may impact accommodations you provide pregnant and breastfeeding employees. Effective December 29, 2022, the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act, also known as The PUMP Act, expanded protections for breastfeeding mothers and, effective June 2023, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) will provide new protections for pregnant employees.
The PUMP Act
The PUMP Act is already in effect, so if you are not already providing breastfeeding workers with reasonable time and a location to pump, you should start doing so now. Here’s what you need to know.
- The PUMP Act applies to all employers, regardless of size. However, if you have fewer than 50 employees, you may be exempt if compliance with the requirements would cause undue hardship.
- The act applies to all employees — exempt and non-exempt — with the exception of certain airline employees.
- Reasonable pumping breaks must be provided to breastfeeding employees for one year after a child’s birth.
- You are not required to compensate non-exempt employees for pumping breaks as long as they are relieved of all work duties during that break. If the employee is not completely relieved of work duties during the entirety of the pump break, the time must be compensated.
- The location for pumping breaks must be somewhere other than a bathroom and must be private and free from intrusion.
- If an employee believes her employer is violating the PUMP Act, the employee must provide notice and allow her employer 10 days to remedy the issue.
Revisit and update your policies now if you have not already done so. Many of you have been complying with the FLSA provision on nursing mother breaks, but those apply only to non-exempt employees. If you have questions regarding the PUMP Act, talk to your employment lawyers sooner rather than later.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) is coming in June 2023. The PWFA is modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act (so it will sound familiar). Here are the highlights:
- The PWFA applies only to employers with 15 or more employees.
- It prohibits employers from denying reasonable accommodations to those employees affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship.
- It prohibits employers from denying employment opportunities to qualified individuals if the denial is due to the need for a reasonable accommodation related to pregnancy, childbirth, or other related medical condition.
- It prohibits employers from requiring qualified employees to take leave — paid or unpaid — if another reasonable accommodation can be provided.
- It prohibits employers from taking adverse employment actions against a qualified employee due to a request or use of a reasonable accommodation related to the employee’s pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditional.
Stay tuned for more information on the PWFA in the coming months. The PWFA takes effect June 27, 2023, so make sure you’re ready by revisiting your policies related to pregnant employees and update them accordingly.
As always, if you have questions about the PUMP Act, the PWFA, or other related employment issues, give your local employment attorneys a call.