Compliant, Collaborative and Creative Workplace Accommodations

Compliant, Collaborative and Creative Workplace Accommodations

Recent federal laws and regulations have expanded protections for pregnant and nursing employees to clarify how employers should support and accommodate them.
Chrystal Goodson
Chrystal Goodson, Director of Leave Management, Group Benefits, The Hartford
Remaining compliant in the face of an ever-changing legislative landscape is a challenging task for employers of all sizes. Even with the best intentions, a compliance error may expose employers to financial penalties and expensive lawsuits.
“Accommodating employees in ways that abide by a growing number of federal, state and local laws may seem overwhelming, but a little creativity and communication can go a long way toward creating an inclusive work environment that suits the collective needs of your employees,” says Chrystal Goodson, director of leave management for Group Benefits at The Hartford.

Noteworthy Legislation

Two of the most recent noteworthy federal legislative protections included the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act), which were implemented in 2023. Much has been written about the PWFA. The PUMP Act expanded eligibility and protections for nursing employees who need reasonable break time to express breast milk during the first year after childbirth. It also afforded those protections to salaried or exempt employees. The PUMP Act does come with exceptions for rail carriers and motor service operators, and exclusions for airline flight attendants and pilots. There are also exceptions for employers with less than 50 employees where the provision would “impose undue hardship.”1

Compliance Tips

When it comes to ensuring effective, compliant accommodations, communication is key. It can demonstrate an organization’s respect for employee health and well-being. There are steps you can take to ensure your team is prepared for these and other laws:
  • Review the Pregnancy Discrimination Action of 1978, which prohibits employment discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth and other related conditions.
  • Consult local and state laws. The PUMP Act and PWFA do not preempt laws that may provide more generous protections. For example, the PUMP Act requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide pump breaks for up to one year following the birth of a child. However, under Minnesota law, all employers must provide these breaks indefinitely.2
  • Review and update employment policies to ensure compliance with the PUMP Act and PWFA.
  • Get creative in finding workable accommodations and private spaces for nursing mothers. Identify and reserve unused spaces where you can install door locks, portable screens or privacy curtains to create a secured nursing space for pumping employees. For PWFA compliance, create a list of accommodations automatically approved for supervisors to handle at the lowest possible level (such as permission to carry water or the option to sit or stand as needed).
  • Educate management and frontline staff on how to handle all types of accommodation requests with a focus on the nuances of these two laws.
  • Bookmark the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) website for PUMP Act protections, as well as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s website for updates in regulations and resources beneficial to you and your employees. 3, 4
  • Become familiar with the Job Accommodation Network for resources. If you are still facing challenges, partner with a benefits carrier that provides Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or vocational professional consultations to help you find the right solution.
  • Consult benefits counsel for compliance assistance as necessary.
“Organizations that take a creative and collaborative approach during the interactive process can find effective accommodations for their employees and stay compliant with the PWFA, ADA and ADA-like laws. A solution can be as simple as permitting employees additional breaks, which can help maintain harmony and a healthy work environment,” says Goodson.
The Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) has additional resources to help employers:
1 U.S. Department of Labor. FLSA Protections for Employees to Pump Breast Milk at Work. January 2023. Retrieved from
2 Minnesota Office of the Revisor of Statutes. §181.939 Nursing Mothers, Lactating Employees, and Pregnancy Accommodations. 2023 Minnesota Statutes. Retrieved from
3 U.S. Department of Labor. FLSA Protections to Pump at Work. Retrieved from
4 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. What You Should Know About the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Retrieved from
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