New Federal Protections For Nursing Mothers

Beyond the Pregnant Fairness Workers Act, which we discussed last week on our blog, the Consolidated Appropriates Act (which takes effect on June 23, 2023) also includes the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act).  The new law significantly expands existing lactation accommodations/protections for nursing mothers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and took effect on December 29, 2022, which changes to remedies available becoming effective on April 28, 2023. 

The PUMP Act covers all employees, exempt and non-exempt.  The break time may be unpaid unless required otherwise by applicable federal, state or local law.  Non-exempt nursing employees should be paid for their breaks if they express milk during an otherwise paid break period or if they are not fully relieved of work duties during the break time.  Exempt employees should be paid their full weekly salary as required.

The PUMP Act provides employees must provide their employer with 10 days notice of an alleged violation and give the employer a 10-day cure period before filing a lawsuit.  

The PUMP Act applies to employees with 50 or more employees.  Employers with fewer than 50 employees may rely on the small employer exemption if they can prove that complying with the law would cause an undue hardship because of significant expense or difficulty.  There are also certain exemptions for industries, including crewmembers of air carriers.

Employers should be sure HR officials and managers are aware of the law and the break time and private space requirements.  The law does not require a permanent dedicated space for nursing (although many employers have gone this route).  So, if an employer finds itself needing to make creative temporary accommodations for a private nursing space, so long as it affords the nursing mother privacy to nurse in a space that is not a bathroom, and without intrusion from others, it will be compliant.

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