The U.S. Senate has passed two acts that help working moms who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (known as the PUMP Act).
The PUMP Act for nursing mothers requires organizations to provide time and space for breastfeeding parents.
The second bill which helps mothers is the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth. The law states that employers can’t deny employment opportunities based on these pregnancy accommodations, and they can’t “require employees to take paid or unpaid leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided". The law went into effect on June 27, 2023, and applies to private employers with 15 or more employees.
- Employees have the right to take reasonable break time to express breast milk for their nursing child. For one year after the child’s birth, covered employees may take reasonable break time “each time such employee has need to express the milk.” An employer may not deny a covered employee a needed break to pump.
- Employees who telework are eligible to take pump breaks under the FLSA on the same basis as other employees.
- Covered employees must be provided with “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” Under the FLSA, a bathroom, even if private, is not a permissible location for the employer to provide for pumping breast milk.
- The location provided must be functional as a space for expressing breast milk. If the space is not dedicated to the nursing employee’s use, it must be available when needed by the employee in order to meet the statutory requirement. A space temporarily created or converted into a space for expressing breast milk or made available when needed by the nursing employee is sufficient provided the space is shielded from view and free from any intrusion from co-workers and the public.
- Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to the FLSA break time and space requirements if compliance with the provision would impose an undue hardship. Whether compliance would be an undue hardship is determined by looking at the difficulty or expense of compliance for a specific employer in comparison to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employers business. All employees who work for the covered employer. Regardless of work site, are counted when determining whether this exemption may apply.
- Under the FLSA, when an employee is using break time at work to express breast milk they either must be completely relieved from duty; or must be paid for the break time.
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