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Pregnant Employee Protections - New Requirements for Employers

Multimedia, Client Alert

Two new laws were recently passed providing additional protections for pregnant employees in the workplace. These statutes are: (1) the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act (otherwise known as the Pump Act), and (2) the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. These statutes contain the biggest changes for pregnant employees since the implementation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. The requirements of these statutes will require employers with more than 15 employees to implement new policies for their handbooks. More information on flat fee options for these policies is provided below.

Generally, the PUMP Act requires employers to set aside a temporary or permanent private place (other than a restroom) for the purpose of allowing employees to express breastmilk. Employers must provide employees with this break time, and this time must be paid if other paid break times are provided. This Act went into effect on December 29, 2022.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act contains the biggest changes for pregnant employees. This Act, which begins on June 27, 2023, requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide “reasonable accommodations” to a pregnant employee’s known limitations related to pregnancy or childbirth. Importantly, these limitations do not need to rise to the level of a “disability” under the Americans with Disabilities Act in order to be accommodated. This will provide almost guaranteed coverage for pregnant employees.

A few examples provided by the DOL include: the ability to sit or drink water; receive closer parking; have flexible hours; receive appropriately sized uniforms and safety apparel; receive additional break time to use the bathroom, eat, and rest; take leave or time off to recover from childbirth; work-from-home; and be excused from strenuous activities and/or activities that involve exposure to compounds not safe for pregnancy. However, this Act specifically states an employer cannot require an employee to take leave (paid or unpaid) if another reasonable accommodation can be provided that would let the employee keep working.

Similar to the ADA, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations unless they would cause an “undue hardship” on the employer’s operations. An “undue hardship” is a significant difficulty or expense for the employer. This is a high standard to meet that should involve an attorney’s review and oversight.

These changes will require the implementation of two new policies for the vast majority of employers (more than 15 employees). Therefore, I am offering a bundle option for our clients. Clients can receive both policies for a flat fee of $500, which can include minor customization specific to the employer’s requirements. This flat fee will also include an overview telephone conference for implementation of the new requirements. In addition, if a client has not had their handbook audited in the last year, we recommend a general handbook audit to ensure compliance with all new employment laws and regulations. We will offer a flat fee that includes both the handbook audit and the two new pregnant employee policies for $1500.

Employment Law After Hours published a YouTube Podcast further explaining these statutes and their requirements. Click below to view the episode featuring BMD Labor & Employment Partner, Bryan Meek

For more information, contact Bryan at bmeek@bmdllc.com or 330.253.5586.


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