WASHINGTON, DC – In a significant win for more family-friendly work policies, the U.S. Senate passed a pair of new measures to guarantee basic workplace accommodations for pregnant employees and new moms and expand the rights of women to pump breast milk at work.  The measures were advanced in the U.S. Senate today and attached as amendments to the FY 23 omnibus appropriations bill.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee who strongly supported inclusion of the new workplace protections in the final bill, says the federal legislation is critical to ensuring all women have the same right to pregnancy accommodations, regardless of where they live or work.  The legislation sets a clear national standard for businesses providing an affirmative right to pregnancy and breastfeeding accommodations, absent undue hardship to the employer, and will help ensure more women can have a healthy and safe pregnancy.

One measure, based on the bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which was spearheaded by U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), closes a loophole in the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act by requiring employers to make temporary, reasonable accommodations—like a stool or a water bottle—so that pregnant women can continue to work safely.

The other measure, known as the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act will ensure all new mothers, whether they are hourly employees or salaried employees – have adequate space and time to pump and store breast milk at work.  This will enable more working mothers to continue breastfeeding, which is of enormous value to the health of both infants and mothers.

“We want every baby and new mom to be healthy and have economic security.  This legislation is good for moms, babies, families, business, and the economy.  It updates and standardizes workplace protections to cover more women and ensures women are able to maintain their jobs during and after pregnancy,” said Senator Reed.  “Moms face challenges in the workforce and this will ensure they are supported and their rights in the workplace are protected and it will also help employers with their retention goals.”

Seventy five percent of pregnant women and new mothers are in the workplace and need access to reasonable accommodations.

The new legislation is closely modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and would ensure that employers with 15 or more employees provide reasonable accommodations that are often low-cost or no cost, unless it would pose an undue hardship to the employer. The bill includes protections not already codified in the ADA or the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. It also prohibits employers from denying employment opportunities to women based on their need for reasonable accommodations due to childbirth or related medical conditions.

Now that the omnibus appropriations bill has been approved by the U.S. Senate, it must also be cleared by the U.S. House of Representatives before it can be sent to President Biden to be signed into law.