Explainer: New Federal Laws Expand Protections for Pregnant and Nursing Workers

Date: February 01, 2023

The PWFA and PUMP Act were signed into law in December

On Dec. 29, 2022, two new bipartisan laws meant to provide protections for pregnant and nursing employees were signed into law: the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers (PUMP) Act. 

The PWFA requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees, and it prohibits employment practices that discriminate against qualified employees affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or any related medical conditions. Employers cannot refuse reasonable accommodations, require employees to accept certain accommodations, deny employment opportunities, require employees to take leave, or punish employees for requesting reasonable accommodations. The PWFA will take effect on June 27, 2023. 

The PUMP Act expands existing protections under federal law, which already requires employers to provide nursing mothers break times to pump breast milk. It also requires employers to provide an adequate and private space for nursing mothers to do so other than a bathroom. Employers are recommended to ensure employees and managers are aware of the updated requirements, determine whether breaks will be paid or unpaid (including checking state or local laws which might require the breaks to be paid), and evaluate their workspaces to ensure appropriate and private accommodations. The PUMP Act took effect on December 29, 2022. 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s website has more information on the laws and the NFIB Small Business Legal Center can be reached at [email protected] for additional questions. Employers should take steps to comply with these laws in order to avoid discrimination claims and legal action. For more information, see this Small Business Legal Center blog post about the two new laws. 

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