Omnibus bill helps pregnant workers via PUMP Act, Pregnant Workers Fairness Act


The $1.7 trillion bill to fund the government that Congress passed last week includes two key provisions aimed at protecting pregnant and breastfeeding workers.

The first measure, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, requires employers to provide pregnant workers with reasonable accommodations such as access to water, increased bathroom breaks, and restrictions on heavy lifting. is requesting

Separately, the pump law expands legally protected breaks for workers breastfeeding babies.

Taken together, these provisions address holes in existing legislation that have allowed U.S. employers to force pregnant and breastfeeding workers to choose between pay and health. The rule also helps employers and the public understand how childcare disproportionately affects working mothers since the pandemic roiled the U.S. economy. Introduced because it has been forced to reconsider.

These measures are contained in a vast umbrella bill that will fund everything from defense spending to emergency aid to Ukraine to electoral reform. Regulations for Working Mothers It’s not expected to affect an overwhelming workforce — the National Women’s Law Center estimates that less than 2% of all U.S. workers become pregnant each year. But experts say these provisions will help close the gender pay gap and improve conditions for pregnant workers. Especially physically demanding jobs such as janitor, home care assistant, and waitress tend to be low-wage workers and women of color.

“Pregnant workers were slipping through the cracks in existing legislation,” said Dina Bakst, co-founder of A Better Balance, the legal advocacy nonprofit that helped draft the bill. increase. “This is an incredible milestone for gender, racial and economic justice.”

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Pregnant workers received several legal protections from the landmark Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. The law stipulated that a pregnant worker should be treated in the same way as a worker “of a similar ability or capacity.” But under the law, workers with serious conditions such as severe morning sickness or pre-eclampsia, a potentially life-threatening vascular disorder, They were denied consideration during pregnancy because they were unable to identify a colleague in a similar role who had the same consideration they were seeking.

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The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to all pregnant workers so long as the employer does not cause them “undue hardship.” The law, modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation for workers with disabilities, but it does not apply to most pregnant workers. Pregnancy is not considered a disability.

The new rules also prohibit companies from discriminating against or outright rejecting job applicants on the basis of pregnancy.

“For decades, women simply needed modest accommodations to keep working without jeopardizing their health, getting fired, handed over for promotions, or forced to take time off when they became pregnant. ,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (DY), one of the bill’s leaders, in a statement. “Ensuring reasonable accommodation for pregnant workers will end harmful discrimination against pregnant women, strengthen economies, and preserve the health and safety of women and children.”

Natasha Jackson, 39, a mother in Charleston, South Carolina, said the new law would help prevent women from experiencing what she did. , was eventually dismissed from her job at a national furniture leasing service after requesting to temporarily change her working hours during a bout of morning sickness caused by her pregnancy.

Her unemployment severely affected Jackson’s finances. She also spent part of her pregnancy in the car.

Jackson traveled to Washington earlier this month to press Congress to pass the bill.

“I cried and cried and cried when I heard the news that the law was passed,” Jackson said. “I have two daughters and a niece.

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The second provision stands for Providing Emergency Maternal Protection for Lactating Mothers and is known as the Pump Act. Employers should designate when and where nursing employees express milk during the day. If employees are working at the same time, the time spent pumping should also be counted as working hours.

Since 2010, the Pump Act has increased protections, covering hourly employees for up to one year, including salaried and hourly employees for up to two years. This also means that she targets nine million women, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Jana Rogers, professor of industrial relations at Rutgers University’s School of Business, said the new law could increase female labor force participation by increasing the ability of women to advance their careers with a single employer. The 2010 law excluded many paid and non-hourly paid occupations such as teachers, nurses and farm workers.

“For those who are faced with the decision of whether to continue working or to continue to be pregnant or breastfeeding, it no longer has to be such a difficult choice,” Rogers said. “People can do both”

The move garnered support from labor rights groups and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in addition to bipartisan support.Letter, large corporate group The pump law would improve current law by protecting small businesses, it wrote, as it would not apply to employers with fewer than 50 employees where compliance poses “undue hardship.”

However, there were some outliers. Sen. Tom Tillis, RN.C., spoke on the Senate floor earlier this month and said the rule would provide employers with facilities “such as time off to obtain an abortion on demand under the guise of a pregnancy-related condition.” I argued that it might force me to try.

“The federal government should not promote abortion, let alone require life-saving employers and in-state employers to facilitate abortions on demand,” Tillis said. said.

Tillis voted against the omnibus package.

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