January 2023: Updated: President Biden Signs Bill Increasing Protection for Pregnant Employees

17 Jan

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Update Applicable to:
PUMP Act: All employers (employers with under 50 employees could be exempt – see details below)

PWFA: Employers with 15 or more employees

What happened?

In a previous communication, we notified you that President Biden signed H.R. 2617 into law, which includes more pregnancy accommodations and protection for pregnant employees. This communication provides more details for that update.

What are the details?
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers (PUMP Act) were included in a $1.66 trillion spending bill known as H.R. 2617. They would require companies to provide pregnant workers with reasonable accommodations, such as limits on heavy lifting and more frequent breaks. Currently, federal law only requires those accommodations if employers give them to workers with injuries or medical conditions.

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)
PWFA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for all pregnant workers unless it would cause the employers “undue hardship.” The law is modeled after the Americans With Disabilities Act, which requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled workers but doesn’t apply to most pregnant workers. Pregnancy is not considered a disability.

The new rule also prohibits companies from discriminating against job applicants or denying them jobs based on pregnancy.

Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers (PUMP Act)
The PUMP Act requires that employers designate time and space for nursing employees to pump milk during the day. Time spent pumping must also count as hours worked if employees do their jobs simultaneously. The Pump Act strengthened protections from 2010, which covered hourly employees for up to one year, including salaried and hourly employees for up to two years.

This bill went into effect immediately upon the signage.

Remember that the PWFA goes into effect on June 27, 2023. In the meantime, employers should work closely with counsel to update their policies and understand their obligations in response to the PWFA and PUMP Act.

For more information, please see the links below:

H.R. 2617

Previous Vensure Communication (1/3/2023)

Article 1 – Article 2 – Article 3Article 4

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above and should make adjustments to their policies regarding pregnant workers to ensure they are in compliance with the law. Select the “Article 4” link above for a thorough list of the Next Steps.

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