As part of the Consolidated Budget Act of 2023, Congress has introduced two new pregnancy-related legislations that require covered employers to provide reasonable accommodation to employees for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. passed the law. The two new laws are the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which will take effect on June 27, 2023, and the Emergency Maternal Protection Act for Lactating Mothers, which will take effect on April 28, 2023 ( PUMP method). Protect pregnant employees and impose new compliance obligations on employers.
PWFA requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide temporary and reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees or job applicants who are pregnant. Under the current Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), covered employers are generally only prohibited from discriminating against pregnant employees. However, PDA does not guarantee accommodation for pregnant employees. PWFA not only requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees, but also prohibits employers from discriminating job applicants or employees because of the need for pregnancy-related accommodations. prohibited.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because PWFA protections are similar to those outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Like the ADA, the PWFA requires covered employers to engage in the dialogue process with pregnant employees and provide reasonable accommodation where appropriate. However, as with the ADA, a pregnant employee may not necessarily have the accommodation of her choice under her PWFA, but only reasonable accommodation that does not place an undue burden on the employer. However, her PWFA specifically also prohibits employers from requiring employees to take paid or unpaid leave when another reasonable accommodation is available. Finally, PWFA prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who request or receive reasonable accommodation due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
Another recently enacted law, the PUMP Act, expands existing employer obligations to provide employees with time and space to express breast milk. In particular, the Breast Pump Act requires all breastfeeding employees, whether salaried or hourly, to be given time to pump and a private space other than the bathroom. Additionally, if an employee is working during milking, the time spent milking must be considered working time. In particular, an employer with fewer than 50 employees will be given the opportunity to request a waiver of the law if compliance proves to cause undue hardship.
While the PWFA and PUMP laws expand the rights of pregnant employees under federal law, many states and cities have already passed their own pregnancy-friendly laws and will continue to enforce these future federal requirements. often exceeded. For example, cities such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have strong local ordinances addressing pregnancy considerations in the workplace. Therefore, the PWFA and PUMP laws may have less impact for employers operating in jurisdictions where existing laws require workplace accommodations for pregnant employees. But for all other employers, it’s time to start thinking about what changes you need to make to your current practices to comply with the PWFA and PUMP laws when they come into effect.