New Federal Protections for Pregnant and Nursing Employees



​Employers should be aware that two new federal laws – the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act) – were signed into law on December 29, 2022.

The PWFA

Under the PWFA, employers with 15 or more employees will be required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees and applicants with known temporary limitations on their ability to perform the essential functions of their jobs based on a physical or mental condition related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employers.

The PWFA adopts the same definitions of “reasonable accommodation” and “undue hardship” as used in the Americans with Disabilities Act, including with respect to the interactive process that is typically used to determine an appropriate reasonable accommodation, if any.

The PWFA becomes effective on June 27, 2023.

The PUMP Act

The PUMP Act amends the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which applies to employers with one or more employees, to expand existing employer obligations to provide an employee with reasonable break time to express breast milk for the employee’s nursing child for one year after the child’s birth. Employers continue to have an obligation to provide a place (other than a bathroom) to express breast milk shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public. The break time can be unpaid unless otherwise required by federal, state, or local law. However, employers must ensure that nonexempt nursing employees are paid if they express breast milk during an otherwise paid break period or if they are not completely relieved of duty for the entire break period. Exempt employees must be paid their full weekly salary as required by federal, state, and local law, regardless of whether they take breaks to express breast milk.

Employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from having to provide break time if compliance with the law would cause an undue hardship because of significant difficulty or expense.

The PUMP Act took effect on December 29, 2022, except for changes to remedies, which will take effect on April 28, 2023.

What Should Nonprofits Do Now?

  1. Update any existing reasonable accommodation policies to include the PWFA.
  2. Train managers and human resources professionals on how to address requests for reasonable accommodations under the PWFA, as well as requests for breaks and private areas under the PUMP Act.
  3. Ensure compliance with state and local laws that provide additional protections for pregnant and/or nursing employees. For example:​​​​​​
  • The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination’s prohibition against discrimination based on pregnancy and breastfeeding and requirement that employers provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant and breastfeeding employees, both of which are discussed here.​​​​​​
  • Effective June 7, 2023, New York will implement additional requirements regarding pumping in the workplace, including mandating that employers adopt a written accommodation policy. More information on these requirements can be found here in our e-alert New York Rings in 2023 by Implementing Several New Employment Laws.

We expect the EEOC and the federal Department of Labor to update their guidance pages (here  and here) to provide more guidance on these new laws.

Please contact the White Plains Office of Pro Bono Partnership at 914-328-0674 if you have questions.

​​This document is provided as a general informational service to volunteers, clients, and friends of Pro Bono Partnership. It should not be construed as, and does not constitute, legal advice on any specific matter, nor does distribution of this document create an attorney-client relationship.