A recent report by the Bipartisan Policy Center in 2022 found that one in five new parents experienced some form of pregnancy-related discrimination in the workplace. Another study found that employers still fall short of providing new parents with lactation support, despite the requirement laid out in the Affordable Care Act. Fortunately, there are unique laws that will ensure that all pregnant workers and parents in Texas and the rest of the country receive adequate accommodation to continue performing their jobs and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Omnibus appropriations bill
On December 29, 2022, President Joe Biden signed into law the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which includes two pieces of legislation that will protect pregnant workers and parents from employment discrimination, i.e., the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the PUMP for nursing mothers. As of June 2023, all states will officially enact the PWFA; on the other hand, the PUMP act is already in effect.
Pregnant workers fairness act
Under the PWFA, employers must provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, including modified work schedules or access to ergonomic chairs and other equipment. For example, suppose a worker experiences complications related to her pregnancy that restrict her ability to perform specific duties. In that case, their employer must provide suitable alternatives like more frequent breaks or lighter workloads. Moreover, employers may not single out pregnant employees for scrutiny regarding attendance policies or job cuts.
PUMP act: Pumping at the workplace
The PUMP act aims to ensure that all breastfeeding parents have access to appropriate lactation support onsite. Employers with 15 or more employees must now accommodate employees who need to pump breastmilk at work by providing a private room with access to electricity and a sink for cleaning pumping equipment. Employers must also provide the mother with adequate break times to accommodate her pumping schedule.
These new laws are a much-needed step in the right direction when it comes to protecting pregnant workers’ rights and breastfeeding parents’ ability to maintain their job while caring for their children. Although some employers may be unfamiliar with these laws, they will no doubt serve as an important reminder that all employees deserve equal respect and support regardless of whether they have children.