Last Wednesday, May 17, 2023, the US Department of Labor (“DOL”) Wage and Hour Division issued Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2023-2 (the “Bulletin”) to provide guidance on the enforcement of the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (“PUMP Act”). The PUMP Act was passed on December 29, 2022, by the US Congress. The new law seeks to expand rights for lactating and breastfeeding employees by requiring employers to provide all employees who are nursing with reasonable time and private space to express breast milk. We previously published a news article on the PUMP Act.
Break Time Requirements
The Bulletin reminds employers that a one-size-fits-all approach will not successfully accommodate all nursing employees. Instead, the frequency, duration, and timing of breaks under the PUMP Act will vary depending on factors related to the nursing employee and the child. Additionally, factors such as the location of the private space and the pump set-up can affect the time needed by an employee to express breast milk.
An employee and employer may create a break schedule based on the nursing employee’s need to pump. However, the schedule cannot be fixed and needs to allow room for any adjustments should the nursing employee’s pumping needs change. The DOL also noted that employees who are working remotely are eligible to take pump breaks on the same basis as working on-site.
Lactation Space Requirements
Employers must ensure the nursing employee is provided with privacy while expressing milk. The DOL suggests locking doors for a private room or displaying a sign that the space is in use. A bathroom is not a permissible location for pump breaks due to health and safety concerns, such as the increased risk of contracting bacteria in breast milk or pump equipment.
The Bulletin states that the space must be a “functional space” – i.e., it must “contain a place for the nursing employee to sit, and a flat surface, other than the floor, on which to place the pump.” Furthermore, the employee must be able to “safely store milk while at work, such as in an insulated food container, personal cooler, or refrigerator.”
For more information on how to implement policies and practices to best support breastfeeding and nursing employees, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between MNK Law and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material.