Updates for Pregnant and Nursing MothersJan 13, 2023
Just before 2023, Congress passed two federal laws impacting pregnant workers. The laws are called The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”) and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act, or PUMP Act. Generally, these laws establish broader workplace protections for pregnant and postpartum employees.
Here are the details:
The PWFA goes into effect in June 2023 and requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations to employees who are expecting a baby. The PWFA also prohibits companies from punishing a pregnant worker who seeks an arrangement to help them safely do their job. The PWFA originates out of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and its reasonable accommodation requirements resemble accommodation requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
The PWFA applies to employers with 15 or more employees and to “qualified employees,” meaning an employee or job applicant who can perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.
The PWFA leaves open the question of what accommodations are “reasonable” in the context of pregnancy. Employers should be mindful that a reasonable accommodation for a pregnancy-related condition may be different than a reasonable accommodation for a more permanent condition, as the likely temporary nature of a pregnancy accommodation may change the analysis of what is reasonable. Employers can eventually expect greater clarity on what the Act requires, as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issues regulations per PWFA’s requirements—including examples of reasonable accommodations under the Act—within 2 years of enactment. For now, we know the Act requires employers and qualified employees to engage in the interactive process (much like what the ADA requires).
THE PUMP ACT
The PUMP Act goes into effect in April 2023 and essentially broadens existing protections guaranteeing lactating employees time and privacy at work to pump. The PUMP Act amends the Fair Labor Standards Act, expanding already-existing federal law requiring employers with 50 or more employees to provide accommodations for breastfeeding workers to express milk. The accommodations include breaks and a private, non-bathroom space.
While employees are not entitled to compensation during these breaks if no work is being performed during the breaks, the breaks will be considered “hours worked” subject to compensation if the employee is not completely relieved from duty for the entirety of each break.
Notably, before an employee can bring a complaint under the PUMP Act, the employee must notify their employer of their belief that the employer is not in compliance and give their employer 10 days to come into compliance before making any claim.
Employers should begin the process of amending their policies and procedures to reflect these new requirements. Employers should also make sure to train its front line managers so they know how to properly respond (without violating the law) if an employee under his/her supervision asks for these accommodations.
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for educational purposes only. The information does not constitute legal advice, and does not create an attorney client relationship with Karly Wannos, The Wannos Law Firm, P.A. or any other attorney employed by the firm. Karly Wannos is licensed to practice law in Florida only, and the information presented on this channel applies to Florida and Federal law only and is not otherwise state specific. Please consult with an attorney before making any important business related decisions. The contents of this post are owned by Karly Wannos, and cannot be duplicated or replicated without her express written permission. May be deemed an attorney advertisement.
The Wannos Law Firm, P.A. provides legal advice to Florida businesses. Karly Wannos is a workplace investigator for claims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation, Florida employment law mediator and provides training to businesses on employment laws.
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