Maloney O'Laughlin PLLC fights for employees throughout Washington, from Seattle to Spokane.

Maloney O'Laughlin PLLC fights for employees throughout Washington, from Seattle to Spokane.

What does the PUMP Act mean for employees?

On Behalf of | Sep 29, 2023 | Pregnancy Discrimination

Breast milk is a superfood for your baby, full of vitamins and minerals that can strengthen their immunity. Your baby shouldn’t miss out on these nutrients just because you must return to work. Thankfully, there’s a law in place that empowers and supports nursing mothers.

What is the PUMP Act?

The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act obliges employers to provide accommodations for expressing milk. Regardless of the size of the business, the act requires employers to provide workers reasonable break times to pump milk for up to a year after their baby is born. They must also set up a private, comfortable area for expressing milk that is not a restroom at work.

Some employees may only need two breaks, while others may need three. Additionally, it could take 15-30 minutes per session, including the time it takes to go to the area, set up, pump and clean up. Because of the PUMP Act, employers cannot dictate how long a pumping break should be or how many breaks employees can take.

Additionally, this law encourages workers to take legal action if their employers violate the PUMP Act.

What if employers cannot comply?

Even though the PUMP Act is meant to cover all employers, smaller businesses with fewer than 50 employees may have difficulty providing these break times and spaces. If these employers can prove that granting these accommodations would cause them an unreasonable hardship – such as posing a significant difficulty or expense – they can be exempt from complying.

But in most cases, employers can often provide what employees need. In situations where an employer cannot dedicate a permanent private room for expressing milk, they can usually come up with a temporary private space for the employee to do so.

Employees have recourse if an employer outrightly refuses to comply with the law. They can seek help from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) or file a lawsuit against their employer. However, before embarking on these major steps, it would be wise to seek legal counsel first.