The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued additional guidance on employees’ rights to pump milk at work under the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (the PUMP Act).

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was amended in 2010 to guarantee reasonable break time and space for employees pumping milk at work. The PUMP Act extended the FLSA’s protections to cover additional job categories, giving an additional 9 million workers the right to pump at work. For an overview of your rights under the PUMP Act and the FLSA, see our blog post here.

This recent guidance clarifies the PUMP Act’s provisions and provides additional explanations and examples on the law’s requirements. This guidance also provides helpful insight into how the DOL might go about enforcing these laws.

Here are a few major takeaways that employees should keep in mind:

– Break time requirements: Building on previous guidance, the DOL reiterated that what counts as reasonable break time will vary depending on the needs of each nursing employee and their child. Employees aren’t required to stick to a fixed schedule for pumping if their needs change over time. Breaks are also protected for remote workers.

– Compensation: The DOL emphasized that break time must be paid if a worker is not completely relieved of duties while pumping (for example, if they take a work related call while pumping). They also noted that salaried employees cannot have their salaries reduced for taking pumping breaks.

– Space requirements: The guidance detailed both required and recommended features of space for pumping. At a minimum, the space must have a place to sit and a flat surface for placing the pump. Ideal spaces will also have access to electricity and access to sinks. Employers may vary their approaches to the space requirement, depending on the number of nursing employees and the constraints of the workspace.

– Employee protection: The DOL explained that employees could file a complaint with WHD at any time if their employer is not providing required break time or a space to pump. Employees are protected from retaliation, meaning they can’t be treated negatively for filing a complaint or for trying to exercise their rights. Workers can also bring private lawsuits against their employers for failure to provide break time or failure to provide pumping space. For failure to provide space specifically, employees may have to notify their employer first of their need for space and wait 10 days before filing a private suit.

If you believe your rights have been violated under the PUMP Act and the FLSA, please contact a Levy Ratner attorney.