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The US Department of Labor Issues Industry-Specific Guidance on the PUMP Act

The PUMP Act (the Act), signed into law in December 2022, expands protections for nursing mothers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It requires covered employers to provide reasonable break time to allow nursing mothers to express milk for one year after childbirth, as often as needed; and a private space in which to do so that should be shielded from view and free from intrusion and is not a bathroom. 

Regarding the implementation of the Act’s provisions, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has recently released industry-specific guidance for the agricultural, educational, transportation, restaurant, and retail industries, as these industries often face unique challenges in complying such as limited space, unpredictable schedules, and customer demands. The guidance provides much-needed clarity and support for these fast-paced and often demanding workplaces. 

The DOL guidance acknowledges these challenges and provides practical solutions for employers including: 

  • temporarily converting existing spaces, like storage rooms, into private pumping areas; 
  • offering portable pumps and lactation consultants to support nursing mothers and create a more comfortable pumping experience; 
  • exploring flexible scheduling options to accommodate pumping breaks, such as overlapping shifts or designated pumping times; and 
  • communicating with employees about the PUMP Act and providing training for managers to ensure proper implementation. 

Next Steps  

Employers are encouraged to review the guidance for their industry to avoid potential legal challenges and fines that may result from non-compliance. Employers should also ensure that supervisors/managers are trained in the law and understand their obligation to provide break time and private spaces for lactation. 

It is important to 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.  

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.