What the PUMP Act Means for Working Parents
While the benefits of breastmilk are repeatedly touted, for many working mothers, pumping on the job isn’t easy. Whether you’re worried about taking breaks or struggle to find a private place to pump, a variety of barriers have kept working parents from pumping, and at times, kept mothers out of the workplace.
But breastfeeding parents have a new reason to celebrate! The federal government recently passed the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act in December 2022. The law, which amends the 2010 Break Time for Nursing Mothers provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), officially went into effect on April 28 and provides increased protections for breastfeeding moms while outlining employee rights.
Below we share what you need to know about the PUMP Act, how it can help you along your pumping journey and how companies are gearing up to provide parents with the resources they need to thrive!
What is the PUMP Act?
The PUMP Act extends workplace lactation accommodation rights to approximately 9 million parents who were not previously covered by the 2010 FLSA law. The law applies to all breastfeeding workers, both non-exempt (e.g., hourly) and exempt (e.g., salaried), with exceptions for airline pilots, flight attendants and companies with less than 50 employees. The PUMP Act requires that all employers provide a private, non-bathroom space, free from intrusion for lactation purposes.
Changes Made by the PUMP Act:
Salaried Workers Are Now Covered: The PUMP Act extends workplace lactation accommodation rights to approximately 9 million women. Exempt (i.e. salaried) employees are now covered under the new legislation.
Work During Pumping Time Is Compensated: The PUMP Act clarifies that if parents are not relieved of duties while pumping, then that time counts as hours worked. Employers still must provide reasonable break time for breastfeeding employees up to one year after the child’s birth.
Back pay and Reinstatement: If an employee makes a complaint and the employer does not comply within 10 days, workers can recover appropriate forms of relief in court for violations, including reinstatement or back pay.
Exemptions: Companies with 50 or fewer employees are exempt if they demonstrate that compliance would impose an “undue hardship.” It also allows a three-year delay for railroad and motorcoach industries and controversially does not cover airline pilots or flight attendants.
Companies Gear Up to Provide More Parents With The Resources They Need
In the past few weeks, popular lactation suite creators Work & Mother and Mamava have both reported an increase in requests for their services. Ahead of the April 28 compliance deadline, Mamava reports that its first-quarter revenue has grown nearly double that of last year in light of new orders. Businesses like Nike, Amazon, Lululemon, 3M, United Airlines, Toyota and DHL have all worked to provide special lactation suites for their employees through Mamava.
“The passage of the PUMP Act ensures that all breastfeeding parents have lactation accommodations at work. We created Mamava to make breastfeeding easier and accessible to all parents, and that requires support in the form of good public policy,” said Sascha Mayer, Co-founder of Mamava and Chief Experience Officer. “As a business, we have planned wisely to meet public policy with the infrastructure that will allow businesses to affordably comply with the law. The momentum of the PUMP Act passage enables us to accomplish our mission to support, celebrate and normalize breastfeeding for parents in the US.”
Profits aside, lactation consultant and Work & Mother founder and CEO founder Abbey Donnell is proud that through The PUMP Act and Work & Mother’s efforts, more women will be given the opportunity to stay and thrive at their jobs. “The PUMP Act is another critical step towards supporting nursing mothers as they return to work. Closing previous loopholes and extending the protections to ensure all working moms are covered, regardless of industry (with the exception of airline flight crewmembers) or salary status," she said.
What to Do If You Believe Your Company Isn’t Respecting Your Rights
If you believe your workplace is not in compliance with the PUMP Act, you must first notify your employer of their non-compliance and wait 10 days. If your workplace still fails to comply with the PUMP Act, you can file a complaint with the US Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division. You can see the step-by-step instructions for filing a complaint on the DOL’s website.
The PUMP Act is an important step forward in protecting the rights of lactating parents in the workplace. By providing accommodations, workplaces can create a more supportive and inclusive work environment that benefits both employees and businesses. For more information about the PUMP Act, visit DOL.gov.