DOL Launches Awareness and Enforcement Campaign for New PUMP Act for Breastfeeding Workers

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has launched a campaign to raise awareness among workers about the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers (PUMP) Act, which became effective on January 1, 2023. The PUMP Act amends the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It requires employers with fifty or more employees to provide reasonable break time to all employees, including salaried employees, to express breast milk as needed.

Under the PUMP Act, employees are entitled to the following specific protections:

  • The right to take reasonable breaks to express breast milk as often as needed, the frequency and duration of which may vary based on varied factors;
  • The right to take breaks for pumping up to one year after their child’s birth;
  • The right to a private place to pump, other than a bathroom, which is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, including employer-provided or required video systems; and
  • The right to either be completely relieved from work duties or paid for the break time while pumping.

An employer must offer the same protections for teleworking nursing employees as in the physical workplace.

Some exemptions to the PUMP Act do exist. For example, certain employees of airlines, railroads, and motorcoach carriers are exempt from nursing employee protections under FLSA. In addition, local or state laws may provide similar protections in some areas.

Employers with less than 50 employees are not subject to FLSA pumping break time and space requirements if compliance with these requirements would constitute an undue hardship. Whether compliance with the requirements would be an undue hardship depends on the difficulty or expense involved in compliance for a specific employer as compared to the size, financial resources, nature, and structure of the employer’s business. When looking at this potential exemption, all employees are countable, regardless of their work location.

The PUMP Act also establishes legal and equitable remedies for employees whose employers have violated their rights to reasonable break time and space to pump breast milk. These remedies go into effect as of April 28, 2023, and before that date, remedies are far more limited. Potential remedies are available regardless of whether the employee has experienced retaliation from the employer and include employment, reinstatement, promotion, lost wages, an equal amount as liquidated damages, compensatory damages, and make-whole relief, which can include economic losses that resulted from violations, and punitive damages where appropriate.

Employees who believe their employers have violated the PUMP Act after April 28, 2023, can file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the DOL or file a private lawsuit seeking the appropriate remedies. Special procedures may apply if an employee wishes to pursue a private action based on an employer’s failure to provide an employee with an appropriate space to pump.

HBL has experience in all areas of benefits and employment law, offering a comprehensive solution to all your business benefits and HR/employment needs. We help ensure you are in compliance with the complex requirements of ERISA and the IRS code, as well as those laws that impact you and your employees. Together, we reduce your exposure to potential legal or financial penalties. Learn more by calling 470-571-1007.

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