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New federal spending bill protects rights of pregnant, nursing workers

President expected to sign bill

Posted December 29, 2022

Last week, the U.S. House and Senate passed a $1.7 million-dollar annual spending bill that allocates federal funds to various government programs. The President indicated that he intends to sign the more than 4,000-page bill.

The new omnibus spending bill (HR 2617) includes two provisions employers need to know about:

  • The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (page 4053)
  • Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers (PUMP) Act (page 4077)

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

This part of the bill requires employers with 15 or more employees to make reasonable accommodations to the known limitations related to the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of a qualified employee, unless employers can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business.

It prohibits employers from:

  • Requiring a qualified employee to accept an accommodation other than any reasonable accommodation arrived at through the interactive process;
  • Denying employment opportunities to a qualified employee if such denial is based on the employer’s requirement to make related reasonable accommodations;
  • Requiring a qualified employee to take leave, whether paid or unpaid, if another reasonable accommodation can be provided; or
  • Taking adverse action in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment against a qualified employee because the employee requested or used a reasonable accommodation.

A “qualified employee’’ is an employee or applicant who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position. Employees and applicants are qualified even if they are:

  • Unable to perform an essential function for a temporary period;
  • The essential function could be performed in the near future; and
  • The inability to perform the essential function can be reasonably accommodated;


This part of the bill expands employee access to break time and space under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to include exempt employees, who were originally excluded.

Before filing a claim against an employer for violations, employees must notify the employer. Employers then have 10 days to address the issue.

How can employers prepare?

Employers should start reviewing their company policies and procedures that address workplace accommodations for pregnant employees, as well as break time rules for those who are nursing.

This article was written by Darlene Clabault of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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