December 29, 2022

President Pens Pregnancy Protections

On December 29th, President Biden signed the $1.7 Trillion omnibus spending bill. In the day (or two) prior, several amendments were added to the existing 4,155 page-long bill. Two of those amendments included employment protections for pregnant employees.

One was the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). A previous article describes some unintended consequences that may arise. This new law may give pregnant employees greater rights to reasonable accommodation than male employees who have a short-term medical condition or any employee with a disability.

The second bill is the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers or PUMP Act.  It expands the existing federal law.  Currently, employers with 15 or more employees must provide “reasonable” breaks and an appropriate space for non-exempt employees to express milk. The PUMP Act expands that obligation to include exempt employees. The “time spent to express breast milk must be considered hours worked if the employee is also working.”

The U.S. Department of Labor has already updated its related webpage and indicated, “More details about the changes in the law are forthcoming.” The existing undue hardship provision remains available for employers with fewer than 50 employees.

Next Steps? Review your related policies and practices. Talk to your company’s employment counsel. If you have a policy in your Employee Handbook regarding breaks for Nursing Mothers, you may need to update it, as well as policies related to reasonable accommodation.