On May 17, 2023, the US Department of Labor issued a bulletin (No. 2023-2) which gave attorneys and employers alike guidance on the new Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (“PUMP Act” for short). The PUMP Act requires covered employers to provide compensated breaks to covered employees where they may use an employer provided space to pump.
- What employers are affected? Any employer who is subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act is also subject to the PUMP Act. This includes anyone engaging in interstate commerce, has at least two employees, and does at least $500,000 a year in business. All hospitals, residential medical or nursing care facilities, schools, preschools, or public agencies are also included.
- What employees are covered? Any employees covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act and who have had a child born in the last year. The act excludes any crew members that are aboard an aircraft.
- What is an acceptable break under the PUMP Act? Employers are now required to give covered employees reasonable break time each time the employee needs to pump at work. The amount of time and number of breaks will vary between employees. These breaks must also be compensated, meaning the time is counted as hours worked for the purposes of minimum wage and overtime.
- What space must an employer provide? Employers must now provide a space that is shielded from view, free from intrusion, and may be used to pump. This space cannot be a bathroom. An employer may temporarily designate a space or otherwise make one available as needed. Depending on the number of covered employees it is possible that more than one space will be needed.
- What is “shielded from view” for purposes of the PUMP Act? This means the employer must ensure the covered employee’s privacy. This can be accomplished by having a lock on the door that the employee can lock, by having a privacy sign put on the door when the room is in use, or other such measures.
- What is “free from intrusion”? Employers are required to ensure that the space provided does not have coworkers or the public entering or viewing the space while it is in use by a covered employee.
Like many labor and employment laws, the PUMP Act has an undue hardship exception. If an employer has less than 50 employees, across the entire company, and compliance with the PUMP Act would require significant difficulty or expense then that employer may not be required to provide space/compensated breaks.
If an employer does not provide breaks, a suitable space, or in some other way violates the PUMP Act, an employee must notify the employer of the issue and give the employer 10 days to come into compliance with the PUMP Act.
If you or your company are unsure if you are in compliance with the PUMP Act or have been put on notice by an employee that you are not, feel free to contact the Kullman attorney(s) with whom you work. For more general information, including general guidance and additional resources, see published materials by the US Department of Labor here, or the full text of the Act here.