Updated Protections for Pregnant Workers

The U.S. Senate voted to include the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act) in the 2023 federal spending package.

The PWFA primarily tracks the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and existing state law protections for pregnant workers. This new law, effective June 27, 2023, requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide pregnancy-related reasonable accommodations to job applicants and employees with pregnancy-related limitations.

The PUMP Act expands lactation accommodations in the workplace. The PUMP Act also requires employers to comply with posting requirements.

Does the PWFA Apply to All Employees?

Prior to the PWFA, many courts held that a healthy pregnancy alone was not a “disability” requiring accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Now, the PWFA will provide protection to employees or applicants with “known limitations,” otherwise defined as mental or physical conditions emerging from pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.

Tracking the ADA, the PWFA protects only those individuals who are “qualified,” which means they are still able to perform the essential functions of their job. For qualified employees or applicants with known limitations from pregnancy, employers must provide “reasonable accommodations.”

Protections for Nursing Mothers under the PUMP Act

Under the PUMP Act, previous employer obligations are expanded to provide employees with reasonable break time and a private space for nursing mothers to express breast milk for one year after their child’s birth. The new law extends breastfeeding accommodations to non-exempt nursing employees.

The law does not require that employees be compensated for nursing breaks unless otherwise required by law. However, short breaks must be counted as hours worked, which must be compensated if an employee is not completely relieved from duty during the entirety of the break. Employees who use paid time to pump must be compensated in the same way other employees are compensated for paid break time. Nursing mothers who qualify as exempt employees should be paid as normal regardless of whether they take nursing breaks.

The PUMP Act adopts the exemption for employers with fewer than 50 employees if compliance would impose an undue hardship. Employers who do not qualify for the exemption must comply with the new law.

Next Steps

Any business that may be affected by the new legislation should contact legal counsel to discuss updating its current practices and Employee Handbook policies to comply with the PWFA and the Pump Act. The PWFA will take effect on June 27, 2023. The PUMP Act went into effect on April 28, 2023.

If you need assistance in evaluating the potential impact of the PWFA and the PUMP Act on your business, please contact Gunster’s Labor and Employment Law practice group.


This publication is for general information only. It is not legal advice, and legal counsel should be contacted before any action is taken that might be influenced by this publication.

About Gunster
Gunster, Florida’s law firm for business, provides full-service legal counsel to leading organizations and individuals from its 13 offices statewide. Established in 1925, the firm has expanded, diversified and evolved, but always with a singular focus: Florida and its clients’ stake in it. A magnet for business-savvy attorneys who embrace collaboration for the greatest advantage of clients, Gunster’s growth has not been at the expense of personalized service but because of it. The firm serves clients from its offices in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Naples, Orlando, Palm Beach, Stuart, Tallahassee, Tampa Bayshore, Tampa Downtown, Vero Beach, and its headquarters in West Palm Beach. With more than 260 attorneys and consultants, and over 270 committed professional staff, Gunster is ranked among the National Law Journal’s list of the 500 largest law firms and has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Diverse Law Firms by Law360. More information about its practice areas, offices and insider’s view newsletters is available at www.gunster.com.


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