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2 new laws expand rights for pregnant, nursing employees

Long gone are the days when women are expected to leave the workplace as they were farther along in their pregnancies and not return until their kids go off to college – if then. Most women can’t afford to quit their jobs, and even when they can, they often don’t want to.

Slowly but surely, the law has caught up with the needs of pregnant and nursing women. This year, two more laws take effect that expand the accommodations that women have a right to ask for. Let’s take a brief look at the two new laws.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The PWFA takes effect in June of this year. It requires any business or organization with at least 15 employees to make reasonable accommodations for those who are pregnant unless doing that would cause an undue hardship. This is much like

This law, which goes into effect in June, requires employers with 15 or more employees to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers unless the employer can show that doing so would cause an undue hardship. For example, a pregnant employee who normally has to stand all day can request a chair to sit in, at least intermittently, throughout the day. She can also request more frequent breaks to use the restroom and not to lift and carry heavy items.

This is much like the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements for employees with disabilities. Pregnancy, under this law, is treated like a short-term disability

The PUMP Act for Nursing Mothers

This law basically just expands the provisions under the Affordable Care Act that allow nursing employees break times to pump breast milk and require employers to give them a private, clean space (that’s not a restroom) to do it. The previous provisions didn’t include employees who are exempt from overtime. 

The law is now in effect. However, employers have until April to comply with it. That gives some employers the time they may need to prepare a spot if they need to, where nursing mothers can comfortably pump in peace.

Not all employers keep up with changes to the law, as they should. Others know the law, but they choose not to comply with it. As an employee, you should be able to protect your rights without fear of retaliation. Having legal guidance can help.