PUMP Act Explained: Workplace Laws for Nursing Moms

What is the PUMP Act?

The PUMP Act extends protections to millions of additional lactating mothers in the workplace (including salaried professional, seasonal, and agriculture workers), and allows workers to sue their employer if they are not compliant.

On December 29, 2022, the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act or PUMP Act) became law, which expands upon and closes loopholes in the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law (2010) requiring employers to provide reasonable break time and a private, non-bathroom space for lactating employees to pump milk during the workday.

Covered Employees Under the PUMP Act

As of December 29, 2022, nearly all FLSA-covered employees have the right to take needed time and to access an appropriate space to express breast milk for a nursing child for up to one year after the child’s birth.

Certain employees of airlines, railroads, and motorcoach carriers are exempt from nursing employee protections under the FLSA. Employees who are exempted may be entitled to break and/or space protections under State or local laws.

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, and structure of the employer’s business. All employees who work for the covered employer, regardless of work site, are counted when determining whether this exemption may apply.

Examples of Covered Employees Under the PUMP Act

April cleans guest rooms at hotels on weekends. April is entitled to break time and space under the FLSA for one year after the birth of her child.

Samantha is a registered nurse who is exempt from receiving overtime pay under the FLSA. Beginning on December 29, 2022, Samantha is entitled to break time and space for one year after the birth of her child.

Ariana is the shift manager at a restaurant with several locations and meets all requirements to be exempt from overtime pay requirements under the FLSA. When Ariana returns to work after the birth of her child in March of 2023, in order to comply with the law, her employer provides an office to take four breaks a day of 25 minutes each to pump breast milk for her nursing child.

Enterprise Coverage Under the PUMP Act

All employees of an enterprise are covered under the FLSA if the employer is:

  • engaged in interstate commerce, has at least two employees, does at least $500,000 a year in business, or
  • engaged in the operation of a hospital, nursing care facilities, schools, preschools, or a public agency.

Individual Coverage Under the PUMP Act

Individual employees may be covered and entitled to FLSA protections to pump at work if they are engaged in interstate commerce even if the employer is not a covered enterprise. Domestic service workers, such as housekeepers, full-time babysitters, and cooks, are normally covered by the law.

Exemptions Under the PUMP Act

Undue Hardship: An employer that employs fewer than 50 employees is not required to provide break time and space only if it would impose undue hardship.

Crewmembers of Air Carriers: The FLSA’s pump at work protections do not apply to crewmembers of air carriers. Crewmember means a person assigned to perform duty in an aircraft during flight time.

Rail Carriers and Motorcoaches: The FLSA’s pump at work protections generally apply to employees
of rail carriers or motorcoach services operators as of December 29, However, coverage for certain employees of rail carriers and motorcoach services operators begins December 29, 2025.

Three-Year Delay: Even once pump at work protections are applicable to these employees on December 29, 2025, an exception to these protections may apply if an employer demonstrate that compliance requires significant expense or results in unsafe conditions. Significant expense does not include installing a curtain or other screening protection.

Non-Compliant Employers

Prior to making a claim against an employer, breastfeeding employees are required to notify them that they’re not in compliance. The employer then has 10 days to come into compliance. Significantly, the amended law now grants breastfeeding employees recourse to recover back pay and reinstatement.