On December 29, 2022 The Providing Urgent Maternal Protection (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act was signed into law. The “PUMP Act”, as it is often referred to, comes twelve years after a law called Break Time for Nursing Mothers was passed in 2010. While the ideas behind the PUMP Act are very similar to those in the Break Time for Nursing Mothers, this new law does help close some loopholes.
What does the PUMP Act do?
Both the initial 2010 law and the new 2022 PUMP Act require that employers provide reasonable time and a private location, other than a bathroom, for lactating employees to pump during the work day for up to one year after the child’s birth. However, according to the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee, the new PUMP Act closes a gap that left almost 25% of women without federal protection and now has given that right for close to 9 million more workers.
Additionally the new law allows for employees to file a lawsuit against their employer if the law is violated. Prior to the PUMP Act becoming law, employees were not able to sue their employers for damage.
Lastly this new law clarifies that time spent pumping counts as time worked when calculating minimum wage, and if an employee is also not completely relieved from their tasks while pumping, they are to be paid overtime.
Who is covered by the PUMP Act?
The PUMP Act applies to all employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, although there are some cases in which employees of small businesses and transportation employees such as those working on railroads, on airlines and in motorcoach carriers may not be given the provided space or time to pump a work.
For rail carriers and motorcoach service operators, the law will go into effect on December 29, 2025 with some adjustments. For specifics on those professions and what is expected in December 2025, please visit USBC’s “The Pump Act Explained”.
What to do if an employer doesn’t comply?
If an employer does not comply with the PUMP Act, there are multiple ways in which an employee can, and should, take action. Firstly, a complaint to the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division can be made by calling 1-800-487-9243 or online.
After a complaint is made, a local Wage and Hour Division office will investigate. An employer can not fire or discriminate against an employee for filing a complaint. It’s against the law.
Thirdly, employees can file a lawsuit for violations in break time, private space for pumping, or for discrimination or being fired for requesting break time and space. A complaint does not need to be made prior to serving a lawsuit. However, it is important to note that according to the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee, “to be allowed to file a lawsuit for a violation of the lactation space requirement, an employee must notify their employer that an adequate space has not been provided. Employees must do this 10 or more days before filing a lawsuit in court. Informing an employer that the lactation space is not adequate may give the employer an opportunity to provide what is needed.”
Be informed and know your rights. For more information and additional resources, please visit dol.gov/agencies/whd/pump-at-work.