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PUMP Act Expands Lactation Accommodation Requirements

Effective December 29, 2022, the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act expands coverage of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s breastfeeding/lactation accommodation requirements to include overtime-exempt employees, in addition to, non-exempt employees. The enforcement provision includes a 120-day delay, making the effective date for that provision April 28, 2023.

The Break Time for Nursing Mothers law, passed in 2010, requires employers to provide reasonable break time and a private, non-bathroom space for breastfeeding employees to pump during the workday. The PUMP Act, makes several important changes to this existing legislation by:

  • Explicitly covering all employees, not just non-exempt employees;
  • Providing the right to break time and space to pump breast milk at work to millions more workers, including teachers and nurses;
  • Making it possible for workers to file a lawsuit to seek monetary remedies in the event that their employer fails to comply; and
  • Clarifying that pumping time must be paid if an employee is not completely relieved from duty.

The time needed for lactation breaks need not be paid unless it is otherwise required by federal, state or local law; however, lactation breaks will be considered compensable hours worked if the employee is not completely relieved from duty during the entirety of the break.

The Act also establishes limited industry-specific exemptions (e.g., air carrier crewmembers and rail carriers), in addition to, the existing exemption for small employers (fewer than 50 employees) for which the requirements would impose an undue hardship.

Next Steps for Employers

Policies and practices and existing private space(s) provided for lactation may need to be modified. Employers who do not have an established policy on lactation accommodations should ensure that they implement a compliant policy. Employers should also ensure that supervisors/managers and are trained on the law and understand their obligation to provide break time and private spaces for lactation.

Employers should also keep in mind state and local laws regarding lactation breaks which may have additional requirements. Where federal, state and local laws differ, the employer should adhere to the law that provides the greatest benefit to employees.  

The US Department of Labor (DOL) also intends to provide additional details about the changes in the law. Employers should monitor the DOL’s “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” webpage for updates.

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.