Breastfeeding shouldn't even be on the radar for having to be an issue. But, in this (still) patriarchal world we live in, moms still need to fight for their breastfeeding rights.
Not just in public but, most especially, in the workplace too.
Here's an easy-read guide about the PUMP Act.
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Hey mama, I am Trish— AKA Labor Nurse Mama. I am a labor and delivery nurse with over 16 years as an high-risk labor and delivery nurse. I am also a mama to 7 kids and have given birth to 6. I have labored thousands of mamas and delivered many, many babies. I am the online birth class educator for Calm Labor Confident Birth and The VBAC Lab birth classes. You can find me inside my private pregnancy and postpartum monthly membership, Calm Mama Society! I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey!
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The PUMP Act
On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed the Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Spending Bill into law. The U.S. Senate passed The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act, which were added to the 2023 omnibus spending bill.
The PUMP Act is a bill that extends workplace protections for employees who need to express breast milk. Specifically, it requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations AND a reasonable break time for the said employee to equally cover salaried employees and other types of workers that are not covered under the existing law.
What's good about the PUMP Act is it allows the time for pump time to be considered hours worked (given that the employee is also working). Plus, it basically argues that nursing mamas have the right to receive break time AND a private, non-bathroom space to pump at work!
Who is covered under the PUMP Act for nursing mothers law?
As per federal law, the PUMP Act recognizes employees who are under employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are not exempt from the FLSA’s overtime pay requirements (outlined in Section 7 of the FLSA).
The PUMP Act encourages employers to provide the said reasonable accommodations to all nursing mothers, regardless of their status under the FLSA.
Do small businesses also have to provide nursing mothers with a break time to pump?
FLSA-covered employers must comply with the PUMP Act, especially the break time requirement.
The requirements are nullified if the company has fewer than 50 employees, and breaks constitute a hardship to the employer. Employers must prove this to be true to show that enforcing the PUMP Act would cause undue hardship.
Is the PUMP Act for nursing mothers saying this break needs to be paid?
The FLSA states that employers are not required to pay nursing mothers for taking breaks to do the deed. BUT! If an employer already provides pain breaks, nursing mamas who use that break time to pump milk should also be compensated like other employees are paid for break time.
The FLSA's general rule is that the nursing mother should be completely relieved from duty. Otherwise, the break time for pumping must be compensated as work time applies.
How long are pump breaks?
It's on a case-to-case basis. Some mamas only need 15 minutes; others need 45 minutes or more. Some pump twice a day, while others pump four times.
Therefore, the PUMP Act does not specify nor limit how much break time you can have.
Do employers need to create a permanent, dedicated space for use by nursing mother employees?
No. Private areas or any space temporarily converted into a room for “pumping time” or as needed by the nursing mom is sufficient. What matters is the area is functional and protects nursing moms from any intrusion from coworkers and the public.
Employers have the choice to create a permanent, dedicated space IF they see it as the best way to meet their responsibilities under the law.
If the only space available at a work site is a bathroom, can employers require employees to express breast milk there?
No. The PUMP Act specifically declares that the space should NOT be a bathroom but a dedicated area to express breast milk for nursing mothers.
What would happen if an employer is not in compliance?
An employer's failure to comply means that workers can file a lawsuit to seek monetary remedies. Before you can claim liability against an employer, you must notify them that they are not in compliance. After that, your employer has 10 days to comply with the mandated accommodations.
That's it! I hope you learned something about the PUMP Act and your rights as a working mama. If you have any experiences you'd like to share, hit me up on my socials! You know where to find me!