The new Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP For Nursing Mothers Act) were adopted on Dec. 29, 2022.
Many states already have similar protections, however there are others that do not. The fact that these acts have been instituted at the federal level will mean major or minor adjustments to organizations depending on their location and size. You will have some time to make any necessary adjustment to your policies and procedures with the changes to remedies under PUMP taking effect on April 28, 2023, and PWFA taking effect on June 27, 2023.
In summary, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act extends the right to request reasonable accommodation to pregnant workers under the same framework as the Americans with Disabilities Act and applies to employers with 15 or more employees. Unlike the ADA, the PWFA expressly provides that an individual may still be “qualified” if they are temporarily unable to perform an essential function due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will enforce the Act.
The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act is an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act and expands protections to express breast milk to salaried employees. It took effect on December 29, 2022 and applies to employers with 50 or more employees. Non-exempt nursing employees should be paid if they express breast milk during an otherwise paid break period or if they are not completely relieved of their duties for the entire break period. Exempt employees should be paid their full weekly salary regardless of whether they take breaks to express breast milk. The act also increases the remedies available for violations, including unpaid wages, reinstatement, or liquidation damages.
As always, employers need to be mindful of state laws where protections might differ from or exceed the new federal laws.
The message being sent by the enactment of PWFA, and PUMP is to take care of your employees and work with them to ensure they are being treated fairly and receiving the care and support they need and deserve. Inform your employees of their rights and train your managers. Positive things come from putting people first.
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