In December 2022, the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2023 was signed into law. This Act includes several provisions that affect employers and employees, including the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers (PUMP) Act. The PUMP Act took effect in December 2022, but expanded rights to sue for monetary remedies became effective in April 2023. The PUMP Act is meant to ensure employers properly accommodate nursing employees. In the previous law, most exempt employees were excluded from coverage. The PUMP Act changed that by expanding coverage to every nursing employee needing to express and store breast milk at work. Employers and employees need to understand the rights and obligations extended by the PUMP Act. This is why we decided to dedicate this article to providing guidance on the PUMP Act requirements.
What are Covered Employers Required to Provide to Covered Employees?
An employer must provide a nursing worker with a reasonable amount of break time and a private area (other than a bathroom) where they can express milk as often as they need to for up to one year after childbirth.
Which Employers and Employees are Covered by the PUMP Act?
All employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are required to comply with the PUMP Act. Regarding employees, the PUMP Act applies to almost all employees covered by the FLSA. The protections under the PUMP Act apply regardless of an employee’s gender and the employer’s size. However, there is an exception that applies to employers with less than 50 employees. An employer with less than 50 workers can be excused from complying with the PUMP Act if they show that doing so would cause undue hardship.
Should the Break Time Be Paid or Unpaid?
An employer can provide paid or unpaid break time. However, if an employee is not entirely excused from duty, the break time must be paid.
Does an Employer Need a Permanent, Designated Area for Nursing Employees?
It is not a requirement that an employer has a permanent, designated area where nursing employees can express milk. However, employers are free to have such a space, and it may be a good idea to have such a space. If an employer does not have a dedicated space for nursing employees, they must ensure that when an employee needs the space, it is available.
What if an Employer Violates My Right to Pump at ork?
You have a few options if your right to pump at work is violated. First, you can file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division. Second, you can sue your employer and seek appropriate remedies. If you decide to sue your employer, you may need to give your employer notice of the violation and ten days to comply.
Some of the remedies you may be entitled to if your right to pump at work is violated include;
- Payment of lost wages
- Compensatory damages
- Punitive damages (if applicable)