On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed into law the 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act which includes two measures that expand the rights of pregnant and breastfeeding workers: the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP).
- The PWFA requires employers with 15 or more employees to engage in an interactive process to determine if they can make reasonable workplace accommodation(s) related to pregnancy and childbirth. This law applies to employees and applicants.
- The PWFA is modeled after protections for qualified workers under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). An employee may have a pregnancy related condition that qualifies as a disability; however, pregnancy itself is not considered a disability under the ADA. Employers are now required to officially treat pregnancy and childbirth related accommodations under the same framework as the ADA.
- As with the ADA, the PWFA includes an accommodation hardship provision. However, the hardship threshold is high and Catapult recommends that members contact us to discuss prior to making denial decisions.
- Denying employment opportunities or taking any type of adverse action based on a qualified employee or applicant’s need for accommodation related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions is prohibited.
- Many pregnancy related accommodations manifest in a leave of absence. Time off may be an appropriate accommodation, but you cannot require this option without first looking at all other accommodations through use of the interactive process.
- The act also prohibits retaliation for seeking or taking a reasonable accommodation related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition.
The PUMP Act expands provisions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in providing reasonable time to express breast milk. Although the Affordable Care Act of 2010 already requires reasonable time to express breast milk, the PUMP Act extends benefits to all employees (both exempt and non-exempt) for one year from the birth of the child.
As always, you can reach out to your Catapult Advisor for additional information.