Employer Tips: Complying With the PUMP Act to Support New Mothers

By on January 29, 2024

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Large corporations increasingly recognize the importance of family-friendly policies to attract and retain top talent. The recent U.S. legislation, the PUMP Act, is a significant step toward supporting nursing mothers in the workplace. Here, we look at the specifics of the new legislation and what steps enterprises are taking to support new mothers beyond mandates.

Understanding the PUMP Act

The PUMP Act, or Providing Urgent Maternal Protections, was signed into law in December 2022. Under this law, all companies must:

  • Provide employees (regardless of gender) with reasonable break time to express breast milk for their nursing child
  • Provide a place to pump at work (other than a bathroom) that is free from intrusions, shielded from view, and available as needed

The new law applies to nearly 9 million employees not previously covered. It seeks to clarify that pumping time counts as time worked if the employee is not completely relieved from their work duties during the pumping break.

Are You Complying? 

Compliance and Challenges

  • Compensation During Breaks: Non-exempt employees are generally not entitled to compensation during pumping breaks unless they perform work during this time​​.
  • Communication and Space Management: Employers should regularly communicate with employees about their break time needs and take into account the location of the allocated pumping space in relation to the employee's workstation. In cases where multiple employees need access, maintaining multiple spaces or offering one large space with privacy screens is recommended​​.
  • Implementation Challenges: Despite these guidelines, challenges persist. Discrimination against women for breast milk expression, inadequate accommodations, and assumptions about the commitment of pumping parents have been noted. These issues can lead to stress and anxiety for pumping parents, affecting their ability to produce breast milk​​​​.   

Broader Implications and Opportunities

  • Significance for Women and Families: The PUMP Act is a significant step towards supporting nursing mothers in the workplace, offering dignity and practical support for their needs​​.
  • Cultural and Employee Experience: Prospective and current employees increasingly value a culture that supports their needs, especially regarding family growth and baby-feeding support. Employers who effectively communicate and provide this support can attract and retain talent.
  • Protection From Complaints: The PUMP Act prohibits retaliation against any pumping parent who files a complaint. Violations can result in various damages, including lost wages and compensatory damages​​.

6 Ways To Go Beyond the Basics

While adherence to the PUMP Act's requirements is essential, there's an opportunity for large corporations to differentiate themselves by offering more comprehensive support to pumping parents. Here are some suggestions:

1. Develop a Comprehensive Lactation Support Program

Integrate required accommodations into a more complete lactation program to signal support for women and families. This could include training managers and HR teams on the needs of nursing mothers, creating a culture that supports flexibility and understanding, and establishing clear policies and procedures for requesting and using lactation breaks and spaces

2. Offer Breast Milk Shipping Services for Traveling Moms

For pumping parents who travel for work, offering breast milk shipping services can be a game-changer. This service allows mothers to express and ship their breast milk back home, ensuring their babies have access to breast milk even when they're away. This eases the emotional burden on the pumping parent, knowing her child's nutritional needs are being met.

3. Enhance Privacy and Comfort

Ensure that the lactation spaces are not just compliant but comfortable and inviting. Consider adding features like a refrigerator for storing breast milk, comfortable seating, soothing decor, and resources for new moms. Providing multiple spaces in larger offices can also reduce the time pumping parents spend traveling to and from the lactation room.

4. Offer Flexible Scheduling

Understand that the frequency and duration of breaks needed can vary greatly among nursing moms. Offering flexible scheduling can help them manage their lactation needs without feeling pressured or rushed.

5. Extend Support Beyond the Legal Requirement

Consider extending lactation support beyond the one year mandated by the PUMP Act, which can be particularly beneficial for mothers who choose to breastfeed for longer.

6. Foster a Supportive Culture

Promote a culture that respects and supports the needs of nursing mothers. This includes training for employees to understand and appreciate the needs and rights of their colleagues and to provide an environment where mothers feel comfortable and supported in their decision to continue breastfeeding upon returning to work.

By going above and beyond the requirements of the PUMP Act, large corporations not only comply with legal mandates but position themselves as forward-thinking, family-friendly workplaces. 

This proactive approach to supporting nursing mothers benefits employees, their families, and the company by enhancing employee satisfaction, reducing turnover, and fostering a positive corporate image. Investing in these initiatives is a compliance measure and a strategic move toward building a more inclusive, supportive, and productive workplace.

Cultivating a Family-Friendly Workplace 

In a fiercely competitive corporate climate, companies seeking to enhance their employee loyalty initiatives will maintain a competitive edge. Benefits like those covered here help influence when a parent returns to work after starting or adding to their family.

Read more about how your company can rise above the competition and become the gold standard in family-friendly benefits in our new ebook, Cultivating a Family-Friendly Workplace: A Journey from Fertility to Childhood and Beyond. The tips shared will help you master strategies for attracting and retaining employees.

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