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On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023. It included the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (“PUMP Act”), which broadens the number of employees who must receive break time and a private place to express breast milk while at work. Nearly all employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) must comply with the PUMP Act. Information from the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) regarding the PUMP Act can be found here and here.
While the law went into effect immediately after signing, additional enforcement remedies for the PUMP Act took effect on April 28, 2023. The PUMP Act requires that employers provide a private space, other than a bathroom, that is free from intrusion for employees to express breast milk for up to one year after a child’s birth. Employers must also provide reasonable break time for workers to pump. The Act does not specify how long the break must be, or how many breaks may be taken during the workday. The PUMP Act does not require that employees be compensated for break time needed to pump breast milk, but if the employee is not completely relieved from duty during the entirety of the break, that time must be paid. The PUMP Act also covers remote employees.
It is estimated that an additional nine million workers will be covered by the PUMP Act – mostly salaried and/or exempt employees who were not initially covered by the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Act, which was enacted in 2010 and covered non-exempt employees.
On May 17, 2023, the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division issued Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2023-2, which provides guidance to its field staff on the PUMP Act and its enforcement, found here. The Field Assistance Bulletin is an important resource for employers because it provides insight as to how the DOL views the law and how it may enforce the PUMP Act.
As to remedies, employees who believe that their employer has violated the PUMP Act may file a complaint with the DOL or bring a private cause of action to enforce the reasonable break time requirement. An employee may also file a private suit regarding an employer’s failure to provide a space to pump, if the employee has notified the employer of the need for space and has allowed 10 days for the employer to come into compliance.
Employers with 50 or fewer employees are exempt from providing accommodations if they can prove complying with the law would cause an “undue hardship” to their business. The DOL also updated its FLSA poster as of April 2023 to include employees’ rights under the FLSA, so employers should ensure that they have the correct FLSA poster.
Should you have any questions regarding changes in the law and enforcement of it, contact employment law attorney Bethany Sweeny (firstname.lastname@example.org) or your Kotz Sangster relationship attorney.