The PUMP Act for nursing parents: What you should know

A new federal labor law, Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act, expands workplace lactation accommodation protections to all breastfeeding 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.

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 breast 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.

Related: The case for lactation-friendly work environments

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 law 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.

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.

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.

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