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Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA): What Small Businesses Need to Know

January 12, 2023 | posted by Abacus Payroll

In late December 2022, President Biden signed a new spending bill into law which included the newly founded Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) Act measures to federally protect pregnant workers and nursing mothers in the workplace. As the owner of a business, stay up-to-date on these new protections to ensure that your labor policies are clear and compliant.

Existing ADA and Pregnancy HR Laws

While pregnancy alone does not qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, there are impairments that may be pregnancy-related that could qualify a pregnant worker with a “disability” under the ADA. Title VII (The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978) and the ADA cover employment discrimination throughout the entire employment process including hiring or the job application process, pay and promotions, training and employee benefits, and firing or termination of employment. It is considered unlawful to harass or discriminate against an employee due to pregnancy, childbirth or any medical conditions related to being pregnant; physical or mental.

Pregnant employees and new parents may also have access to additional rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  While the FMLA is federally-protected leave, laws also vary on a state-by-state basis.


New Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)

What is PWFA?

An expansion of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act prohibits employers who have 15 or more employees from discriminating against “qualified persons.” “Qualified persons” include job applicants and employees with limitations and restrictions related to pregnancy, childbirth, severe pregnancy/childbirth complications, and other related medical conditions.  The PWFA will be enforced by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the US Attorney General’s Office as it pertains to private sector employees.

How will this affect my employees and my business?

Within the next six months, employers will be required to comply with the PWFA and protect workers from bias based on pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions. It creates equal opportunity for workers and it ensures it legally. As an employer, you must be aware of these laws and updates to create the best work environment for your employees while also protecting your business from any potential compliance issues.


Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP)

What is PUMP?

The PUMP Act for nursing mothers will strengthen the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law by expanding workplace protections for lactating workers. This ensures that breastfeeding individuals will have access to the appropriate resources to care for their needs and be able to continue to participate in their daily responsibilities.

How will this affect my employees and my business?

Adequate resources and protection must be supplied to lactating workers. These sorts of required resources include a reasonable amount of break time and a private, non-bathroom space for them to be able to pump during the workday. Properly providing these resources to your employees is pivotal to creating a safe space for your employees and protecting your business from costly compliance issues and lawsuits. 


How to Be Compliant in 2023

While the PWFA isn’t expected to be enforced until June 2023, there are steps to take today. To comply with the new updates and keep your business in good standing and on the right track, there are a few things that you should be sure your business is doing to best provide for your employees. When it comes to hiring, firing, or managing employees, you cannot discriminate against a candidate or employee who is pregnant, has any physical or mental pregnancy-related disabilities, or is currently lactating.  This means providing adequate breaks when necessary and a private, non-bathroom space for employees to take care of their needs properly and privately. 

The bottom line of the Acts are to supply reasonable accommodations to provide comfort to workers impacted by pregnancy or by having to nurse. Examples could include allowing extra breaks to rest, deal with nausea, or pump; exemption from strenuous or hazardous activities; have access to drinks or food regardless of company policy.


Extra HR Support from Abacus Payroll

This is yet another labor law update that you must be aware of and on top of as a business owner. There are so many responsibilities already on your plate that policy updates and properly providing for your employees can get lost in the fold. Outsourcing human resources and/or utilizing resources like the HR Help Center from Abacus Payroll can make these tasks easier to manage.

Starting at $12.50 per month, you can have access to and download:

  • Federal and state laws on Family Leave (FMLA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the Labor Law Library
  • Template policy for Discrimination and Harassment Prevention
  • Sample letters for both FMLA benefit continuation and ending FMLA
  • Mini-Guide PDF on Supporting Lactation at Work
  • Sample Certification from Health Care Provider for Employee’s Serious Health Condition
  • Employee Handbook Assistance/Guidance
  • And more!

Having a trusted HR Support system will help ensure that your policies are always up-to-date with the latest required laws and updates to help protect your employees and your business. Contact an Abacus Payroll advisor to find out how our HR team can help you and your business today!


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About the Author: Abacus Payroll

Abacus Payroll, Inc. is a leading provider of payroll solutions for businesses of all sizes. Whether yours is a family-owned small business or a national corporation, we provide payroll, tax and other financial services on time and at an affordable price. Unlike other payroll providers, Abacus Payroll will assign your very own payroll specialist who will understand your payroll needs inside and out. So no more speaking to a different person each time, no more sitting on hold for hours and most importantly no more missed deadlines! Contact us today to see how we can help your business. You can count on us.