Last year, President Biden signed the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act (“PUMP Act”) into law. The PUMP Act serves to expand existing protections for breastfeeding parents through the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Although some portions of the PUMP Act go into effect immediately, other new enforcement provisions did not go into effect until April 28, 2023.
Although some states and the District of Columbia also have laws protecting nursing mothers in the workplace, the PUMP Act does not pre-empt those laws, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, and covered employers should be prepared to comply with both laws
Are we required to comply?
Most employees are covered by the FLSA, although certain employees of airlines, railroads and motorcoach carriers are exempt. If you are covered by the FLSA, you are subject to the minimum wage and overtime requirements.
However, the PUMP Act allows certain small employers to seek exemption from part of the law. If an employer has less than 50 employees and would experience and undue burden if that were required to comply with the PUMP Act, they may be eligible for an exemption.
What is required of companies?
Covered employers are required to provide time and a private space for nursing employees to express milk at work. Employees may take as many breaks as are reasonable for up to one year after their child’s birth. Employers may not deny a reasonable request to take a pumping break. Some nursing employees may need to take more breaks than other employees are allowed to take. The employee may need to take longer breaks than are otherwise allowed. The law requires companies to provide this.
It is important to note that nursing employees must be completely relieved of duty during these breaks, or their employer’s will have to pay them for their time.
The law also requires employers to provide a private space, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and where no one will intrude. Note: even a private bathroom is impermissible.
The space must be functional for expressing milk and it must be immediately available to the employee when needed.
If the nursing employee is teleworking, their employer must ensure that they are free from electronic observation.
Finally, the law prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who make a complaint under the FLSA. This prohibits employers from taking any adverse employment action against employees for making a complaint, cooperating in an investigation, supporting a complaint, testifying in any proceeding, or serving on an industry committee.