The PUMP Act and Enhanced Protections for Nursing Mothers

The Providing Urgent Maternal Protection for Nursing Mothers Act, or the PUMP Act will go into effect today, April 28, 2023. On December 29, 2022 President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 which included the PUMP Act and the new Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). The PUMP Act and the updated PWFA will be enforced by the Department of Labor. The PUMP Act is designed to expand an employer’s existing obligations to accommodate breastfeeding employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Our main takeaways are summarized below:

  • What Types of Employers Are Covered: Under PUMP, all employers covered by the FLSA are required to comply with PUMP, regardless of the size of the business. If an employer has less than 50 employees, they may be exempt from this requirement if they demonstrate an “undue hardship.” The Department states that a variety of factors are considered including expense, financial resources, and the nature of the business.
  • What Types of Employees Are Protected: Under FLSA, employers are required to provide non-exempt employees with a “reasonable break time to express milk for up to one year after the child’s birth.” Notably, the PUMP Act states that “all employers who work for a covered employer, regardless of work site, are counted,” not just non-exempt workers. The PUMP act is clear that this applies to full-time employees, part-time employees and other workers who are deemed employees under FLSA. Additionally, in a post-pandemic workforce, this would also expand protections to remote workers.
  • What is a Reasonable Break? PUMP also specifies that an employer must provide a “reasonable break time each time” the employee needs to nurse. Covered employers must provide a designated area that cannot be a restroom and must be private and “free from intrusion.” As for what qualifies as a reasonable time, the Department states that set- up time, the child’s and/or employee’s condition, and the location of the space will be considered.
  • Is Breaktime Paid? The law states that the break time does not have to be paid. But if an employer does provide paid breaks the nursing employee must be compensated like any other employee.
  • Enforcement: Starting April 28, 2023 employers who violate the Act may be held liable for “appropriate legal or equitable remedies” under FLSA. This could include compensation for lost wages, promotion, reinstatement, or even punitive damages. An employer is also prohibited from retaliating against an employee who files a formal complaint or cooperates with an active investigation.

For detailed information about the PUMP Act, visit https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pump-at-work.

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