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Federal Law Addresses Protections for Nursing and Pregnant Employees

photo of a pregnant woman with left hand on her belly and right hand on a mouse, working at her laptop

Two new laws were passed in December 2022 providing protection to all nursing mothers and requiring accommodations for pregnancy and childbirth-related conditions.

The omnibus spending bill, passed by Congress, includes two measures that expand rights for pregnant and nursing mothers. Both bills were signed by President Biden on December 29, 2022, but have different effective dates.

The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act) is effective immediately. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) is effective on June 27, 2023.

Breaks for Nursing Mothers

The PUMP Act expands the requirement of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to provide breaks for nursing mothers to exempt employees. Under the FLSA, reasonable breaks must be provided for a nursing mother to express milk for her child for one year after the birth of the child. Texas law provides similar protections to all employees to express breast milk but doesn’t limit entitlement to the first year following birth.

State and federal law require an employer to provide a place that is shielded from view and intrusion by both the public and coworkers (other than a bathroom) for an employee to express breast milk. Breaks must be provided each time an employee needs to express milk. Breaks for nonexempt nursing mothers are noncompensable as long as the employee is completely relieved from duty.

The Act includes a new provision requiring employees to notify their employers if they believe they are out of compliance and must give their employer 10 days to come into compliance before making any claim of liability against their employer.

Protections for Pregnant Employees

The PWFA expands protections for pregnant employees and applicants and requires an employer to make reasonable accommodation to known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The PWFA requires employers to extend existing reasonable accommodation practices to employees who are pregnant, have pregnancy-related conditions, or have recently given birth. Employers will be required to engage in an interactive process to determine a reasonable accommodation, providing it is not an undue hardship to the employer.

The PWFA was modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Act doesn’t designate pregnancy itself as a disability under the ADA, although some pregnant employees may have conditions that qualify as a disability. The PWFA extends the requirement to provide a reasonable accommodation for the temporary period the employee is unable to perform the essential functions of the job.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is required to issue regulations within one year of the date the law is enacted that provide examples of reasonable accommodations addressing known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.  


The PUMP Act will have little impact on Texas education entities because state law already provides protection to exempt workers. Additional information to help employers accommodate the needs of nursing mothers can be found in the August 2022 HRX article Supporting Nursing Mothers and on the U.S. Department of Labor webpage Break Time for Nursing Mothers.

Additional information on the PWFA, including guidance from the EEOC, will be provided as it becomes available. If you have additional questions, please contact HR Services at or 800-580-7782 for assistance.

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April Mabry
April Mabry
Best Practices: Salary Notification Letters

April Mabry oversees HR Services training services, member library products, and the HRX newsletter. She has provided HR training and guidance to Texas public schools  since 1991. Mabry was a classroom teacher for 11 years in Texas and Michigan.

Mabry has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Michigan and certification as a professional in human resources (PHR) and is a SHRM-CP.

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