Key Points of the Nursing Mothers PUMP Act

The PUMP Act (Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act) gives nursing employees the right to take reasonable breaks at work to express breast milk. Employees must be given a private room or space that is free from intrusion or view by others. The law is clear that this space cannot be a bathroom. At a minimum, the space should have a locking door, a chair, and a table or flat surface for the employees’ breast pump. Any surveillance or video equipment in the space must be disabled.

There are no set number of breaks that are allowed by the law, and no maximum. The nursing employee does not need to adhere to a predictable schedule (e.g., every 4 hours), as it could vary each day. Rather, employees should be given discretion to take breaks as they believe they are needed.

For non-exempt employees, if completely relieved of duty during their lactation break, the break need not be paid, unless the employer’s policies would otherwise provide for pay. For example, if the employer’s practice is to pay all non-exempt workers two breaks per day, a nursing employee who takes breaks for lactation purposes must be allowed to receive pay for two of her requested breaks. With regard to being relieved of duty, employees should be told that they are not expected to perform any work, even checking e-mail, during their breaks.

Lactation breaks may be taken for up to one year after the birth of the employee’s child, although employers may certainly extend this period in their discretion.

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