The federal law, Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act), recently went into effect and there are things businesses need to understand in order to be compliant.
The law requires most employers to not only provide reasonable break time for workers to express breast milk, but to allow them to do it in a private space other than a bathroom.
Some state and local jurisdictions have already passed laws protecting the rights of workers needing to express milk for nursing children. The PUMP Act now ensures protection nationwide.
While it is important for businesses to know and comply with the laws in their respective jurisdictions, the federal PUMP Act, with the exception of a small group of industries, stipulates that employers engaged in interstate commerce with at least two employees and with revenue of at least $500,000 per year need to comply.
Break Time Requirements
Under the PUMP Act, businesses need to ensure employees, within reason, are provided with breaks each time they need to express milk. The federal government made it clear that a business cannot deny a needed break time during the first year of a nursing child’s life. Clouding the matter more, they went on to state that the amount of time and duration of such breaks will vary based on factors specific to the employee and the nursing child.
In regard to paying hourly workers for these breaks, businesses should tread lightly if deciding to make them unpaid, as that practice may be in violation of federal, state or local wage and hour laws.
Privacy and Accommodation
The PUMP Act stipulates that employees needing to express breast milk must be provided with a private space that is not a bathroom and is free from intrusion.
Keep in mind that, although the PUMP Act does not specify the amenities needed in these private spaces, some state and local jurisdictions do.
The federal Wage and Hour Division, who will enforce the PUMP Act, did provide some guidance for an ideal space for expressing breast milk, including a place to sit, a surface on which to place the pump, and stated that access to electricity would increase the functionality of the space.
The space can be temporary in nature if it complies with the privacy standards of the law, and there are companies out there that provide temporary units designed to accommodate the needs of these employees.
Small Business Exemption to the PUMP Act
Businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt from the PUMP Act if compliance “would impose an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.” Of course, companies should always be sure to understand the laws of state and local jurisdictions, which may have statutes more restrictive.
Any business looking for a way to deny an employee the ability to express breast milk at work should think very carefully about that decision.
Marzano Human Resources Consulting assists businesses through many difficult and sensitive employee matters. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a no-cost initial consultation.