While federal employment law changes are generally few and far between, the budget bill that was just passed by Congress and signed by the President includes two sections that provide new protections for pregnant and lactating employees and applicants.
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
Effective June 17, 2023, employers with 15 or more employees must now accommodate employees’ and applicants’ known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions unless it would create an undue hardship. Employers also cannot take any adverse action against an employee or applicant for requesting or using an accommodation.
Previously under federal law, employers generally only had to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees and applicants if they also provided accommodations to other employees who were similar in their ability or inability to work. Note that many state laws already went above and beyond federal law in requiring accommodations for pregnant employees.
Lactation Accommodations (PUMP Act)
Effective December 29, 2022, the “Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act,” or PUMP Act, expands the current federal requirements for providing employees with time and space to breastfeed or pump at work to now cover exempt employees. Previously, only nonexempt employees were covered.
This law applies to employers of all sizes but (still) has an exception for employers with fewer than 50 employees if they can show that providing accommodations would cause an undue hardship.
(2022 U.S. HR 2671, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023)