UW Combined Fund Drive

June 27, 2023

New legislation makes pumping at work easier for working parents

A new federal labor law, Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act, expands workplace lactation accommodation protections to all breastfeeding/chestfeeding employees upon their return to the workplace.

These protections apply regardless of the employee’s gender and apply to all workers, including off-site, remote, mobile or traveling workers.

Related: Discover the many benefits of human milk feeding

The law was enacted in December 2022 and is fully enforceable as of April 28, 2023.

The new law requires employers of all sizes to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express human milk for their nursing child for up to one year after the birth of the child. It also stipulates that workers have access to private, non-bathroom spaces in which to comfortably pump.

Employers cannot mandate the length of a pumping break, nor the number of breaks a worker takes, and must include time for the employee to get to the space, set up and clean up.

The new law expands employee protections established in the 2010 Break Time for Nursing Mothers law, closing a coverage gap for 1 of every 4 exempt workers who were previously excluded from federal protections. An additional nine million workers of childbearing age in the U.S. were to protected status, including teachers, nurses, farmworkers and others.

The case for lactation-friendly work environments

Parents in all 50 states have the right to breastfeed in public and all breastfeeding employees are protected by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

Nonprofit spotlight: La Leche League

La Leche League of Washington (charity code 0315698) is a non-profit, non-governmental and non-sectarian organization committed to supporting breastfeeding, chestfeeding, and human milk feeding families. They envision a world without barriers to experiencing the love and wisdom found in the breastfeeding relationship.

La Leche League Leaders are volunteer parents who have nursed their own children and are accredited by La Leche League International.

La Leche League has been providing vital breastfeeding support for more than 60 years. We know that while breastfeeding is natural, it doesn’t always come naturally. Across Washington, parents find vital support from La Leche League’s volunteer Leaders on the phone, via email and in monthly Group Meetings. La Leche League provides support from pregnancy through weaning, and everything in between. If you have questions or need help, here’s how to reach them:

Learn More

The PUMP Act makes clear that pumping time counts as time worked when calculating minimum wage and overtime if an employee is not completely relieved from their work duties during the pumping break.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which takes effect June 27, 2023, states that workers have a right to reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, postpartum recovery and related medical conditions, which includes lactation. Employees can contact the free helplines from the Center for WorkLife Law and/or A Better Balance for assistance in understanding their legal rights and options.

The UW conforms to the Washington State Legislature workplace pregnancy accommodations (RCW 43.10.010). WorkLife, a division of UW Human Resources, maintains information for UW faculty, staff, and student parents, including a list and map of lactation rooms on all UW campuses and Harborview Medical Center.

Contributed by Nicole Reeve-Parker