Department of Labor launches effort to alert teachers, farmworkers, care workers, others of new workplace protections for nursing mothers
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor is launching an effort to alert families throughout the nation of changes in federal law that now extend the rights to pump breastmilk at work to more women, including those employed as teachers, farmworkers and care workers.
The newly enacted Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act extends the rights of nursing mothers to have time and a private space to pump breastmilk at work. Under the PUMP Act, more workers in more industries are now protected by the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The new protections also expand remedies available to these workers if their employers do not comply with the law.
Part of the Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Spending Bill, the PUMP Act aligns with the Biden-Harris administration’s Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis, a whole-of-government approach to combatting maternal mortality and morbidity. Research shows women of color and women in rural communities suffer significantly higher rates of maternal mortality and morbidity than their white and urban counterparts.
The campaign by the department’s Wage and Hour Division – which enforces the PUMP Act and the FLSA – provides information about worker protections for nursing mothers includes national outreach and a website providing guidance, fact sheets and other resources for workers and employers.
In 2010, the FLSA was amended to include Break Time for Nursing Mothers provisions that require employers to provide reasonable break time and a private space – other than a bathroom – for working women to use to express breast milk. The U.S. Breastfeeding Committee – a non-profit advocacy group of more than 100 organizations – estimated the provisions still left nearly one in four women of childbearing age unprotected. The PUMP Act will provide protections to many of these women.
“The Fair Labor Standards and Family and Medical Leave acts include provisions to protect the rights of new and expectant mothers to care for and bond with their children. For more than a decade, many working parents have had legal protections to be able to have break time and proper space at work to express breast milk,” Principal Deputy Wage and Hour Administrator Jessica Looman added. “The PUMP Act strengthens and expands these protections to give more working parents peace of mind when it comes to caring for their child.”
The PUMP Act includes the following provisions:
- Extends rights and protections to have break time and space to pump breast milk at work to include millions of working women not previously covered by the FLSA.
- Allows working women to take legal action and seek monetary remedies if their employer fails to comply with federal law.
- Clarifies when an employer must pay the worker for time spent pumping breast milk if they are not completely relieved of work duties.