Pregnant Workers, New Mothers On Cusp of Major Victory?

UPDATE: On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the PUMP Act into law as part of the Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Spending Bill.

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

December 22, 2022

The Senate voted decisively today, 73-24, in favor of an expanded pregnant workers measure modeled on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act was attached to the year-end omnibus spending bill, and would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees and job applicants affected by pregnancy or childbirth, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the business. The Act would apply to private employers with 15 or more employees.

The Senate also approved another amendment, known as the PUMP Act, to the omnibus bill in a bipartisan 92-5 vote. The PUMP Act would add employment protections for nursing mothers by guaranteeing them the right to break time to express milk. This has been a significant issue for hourly workers who are not always able to get time off the clock to pump.

"Everyone should have the space and privacy to pump at work, and no one should be forced by their employer to stop nursing," said Sen. Jeff Merkley, a co-sponsor of the PUMP Act.

The government funding bill, which includes these workplace amendments, now heads to the House of Representatives where passage is expected ahead of a Friday night deadline.