New Federal Laws Affecting Pregnant Workers
June 7, 2023
New Federal Laws Covering Pregnant Workers and New Parents Require Employer Attention to Workplace Policies
Two new federal laws are being implemented that aim to expand the rights of pregnant employees and new parents. These new laws have significant implications for employers, so it is important for employers to ensure they have policies and training in place to comply with the new regulations.
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)
The PWFA is a new federal law that extends protections to pregnant workers that are similar to those provided to individuals with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Act requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions (including infertility and post-partum issues), unless the accommodation will cause the employer an undue hardship, which is a significant difficulty or expense.
For example, a workplace may be required to allow a pregnant employee to sit or drink water, receive closer parking, have flexible hours, receive additional break time, take leave or time off, and be excused from strenuous activities or exposure to certain compounds or environments.
The PFWA directs employers and employees to arrive at reasonable accommodations by engaging in an interactive process. Pregnancy affects everyone differently, so it will be important for employees to communicate the accommodations they need to their employer, and for employers to listen and respond appropriately. This means that employers cannot require an employee to accept an accommodation without a discussion about the accommodation between the worker and the employer. Nor can they deny a job to a qualified employee or applicant based on the person’s need for an accommodation or require an employee to take leave if a reasonable accommodation can be provided that would let the employee keep working.
Existing laws that address pregnant workers, such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the ADA, and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) remain in effect, as do state and local laws that may be more protective of workers affected by pregnancy and childbirth.
The PFWA goes into effect on June 27, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will begin enforcement on that same day. Until then, the EEOC is still accepting charges relating to a lack of pregnancy and childbirth accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The EEOC is expected to provide additional regulations within one year of the PWFA’s enactment. The attorneys at Shuttleworth & Ingersoll are keeping a close eye on the law and its regulations as they are enacted and are prepared to assist you with your policy and training needs.
Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act)
The PUMP Act was signed into law in December of 2022 and went into effect at the end of April, and the Department of Labor has issued additional enforcement guidance. All employers covered by the FLSA, regardless of the size of their business, are required to comply with this Act.
The PUMP Act expands the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)’s provisions requiring employers to provide a private space and reasonable break time for nursing employees to pump breast milk at work for one year after the child’s birth. The employer must provide a space that is not a bathroom that is shielded from view and is free from intrusion by coworkers or the public. The space may be temporary or made available as needed, but must be functional as a space for expressing breast milk and available when the employee needs it. Breaks must be provided as frequently as the employee needs and must be for a reasonable duration. FLSA guidelines concerning employee compensation for breaks still apply.
With the enactment of these new federal laws concerning pregnancy, childbirth, and new parents, now is a great time for employers to review their policies and training with regard to these issues. Shuttleworth & Ingersoll attorneys are ready to assist you in ensuring your policies are in compliance with the law. Additionally, at our upcoming July 20, 2023 webinar on Working Parents & Other Caregivers, Attorney and Senior Vice President Mark Hudson will touch on the new laws and their impact on employers and will be available to answer any questions you may have.
About Shuttleworth & Ingersoll
Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, P.L.C. is a multi-specialty law firm with offices in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Coralville, Iowa, and Waterloo, Iowa, providing legal services to clients in Iowa and around the world. Established in 1854, the firm has grown to become one of Iowa’s largest firms with approximately 60 talented and experienced lawyers who provide a full range of business, litigation, family, and intellectual property legal services. Using a collaborative, team-based approach, Shuttleworth & Ingersoll is able to provide innovative, cost-effective solutions to client problems. For more information, please visit www.shuttleworthlaw.com.