On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed legislation, which includes the passage of the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act (“PUMP Act”). PUMP stands for “Providing Urgent Maternal Protections,” and expands the rights of nursing employees to have time and a private space to pump breastmilk at work. The PUMP Act expands coverage to workers in more industries including registered nurses and nurse practitioners, teachers, farmworkers, and many others.
The right to pump breastmilk at work and have a private place to do so was created in 2010, when the Fair Labor Standards Act was amended. The law requires employers to provide reasonable break time and a private space, other than a bathroom, for pumping. However, this law did not cover nearly 9 million working women. These women fall into various job categories, including registered nurses and nurse practitioners, teachers, transportation workers, agricultural workers, computer programmers, software engineers, retail workers, and traveling salespeople, as well as some doctors, lawyers, journalists, photographers, and musicians, depending on their specific job duties and salaries.
We answer some of your PUMP Act questions here.
Who is covered?
• The law applies to all nursing employees with exemptions for certain workers in airlines, railroads, and motorcoach carriers, as well as employers with fewer than 50 employees if the employer can demonstrate that compliance would be an “undue hardship.” Still, nursing employees who are exempt under the law may be entitled to similar rights under State and local laws.
What must be provided?
• Reasonable Breaks – Nursing employees must be provided a reasonable break each time the employee needs to pump for one year after the child’s birth. The number and length of the breaks will vary depending on the employee and the child.
• Private Space – Nursing employees must be provided a private space, other than a bathroom, that is free from intruding co-workers and the public. Workers who telework must be free from observation by any employer-provided or required video system.
• Compensation – When nursing employees use break time to pump breastmilk, they must be provided pay for the break time or the employee must be completely relieved of their duty.
How is the law enforced?
• The Department of Labor will enforce the law beginning April 28, 2023. Remedies may include hiring, reinstatement, promotion, and the payment of wages lost and an additional equal amount as liquidated damages, compensatory damages, and make-whole relief, such as economic losses that resulted from violations, and punitive damages where appropriate.
The PUMP Act will not only impact millions of workers and families but will also ensure employers are held accountable for failing to provide break time and space for nursing employees. The Department of Labor published compliance guidance and additional resources about the expanded workplace protections for nursing employees.
For more information on how to file a complaint for potential violations of the PUMP Act go to the Wage and Hour Division website. If you have any questions regarding the new PUMP Act, please contact a Levy Ratner attorney.