Government Expands Federal Pregnancy and Lactation Accommodations
There are new protections for pregnant and lactating employees
While federal employment law changes are generally few and far between, the budget bill that was just passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden includes two sections that provide new protections for pregnant and lactating employees and applicants.
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
Effective June 27, 2023, employers with 15 or more employees must now accommodate employees’ and applicants’ known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions unless it would create an undue hardship. Employers also cannot take any adverse action against an employee or applicant for requesting or using an accommodation.
Previously under federal law, employers generally only had to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees and applicants if they also provided accommodations to other employees who were similar in their ability or inability to work. Note that many state laws already went above and beyond federal law in requiring accommodations for pregnant employees.
- Add a pregnancy accommodations policy to your handbook if you don’t already have one.
- If you’re subject to a state law that provides similar accommodations, make sure your policy captures the most employee-friendly aspects of the applicable laws.
- Ensure that managers are aware of the law and types of accommodations that may be required.
Lactation Accommodations (PUMP Act) Compliance Reminder and New Guidance about PUMP Act Protections
The “Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act,” or PUMP Act, expanded the current federal requirements for providing employees with time and space to breastfeed or pump at work to now cover exempt employees. The PUMP Act was effective December 29, 2022. This law applies to employers of all sizes but (still) has an exception for employers with fewer than 50 employees if they can show that providing accommodations would cause an undue hardship.
On May 17, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor released a field assistance bulletin (No. 2023-02) to help with enforcement of the pump at work provisions of the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (the PUMP Act), which amended the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Under the PUMP Act, most nursing employees have the right to reasonable break time and a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion to express breast milk while at work. This right is available for up to one year after the child’s birth.
This bulletin supplements previously issued materials, including: