Nursing mothers have rights, too 

A new federal law that gives nursing mothers certain rights in the workplace recently went into effect. Known as the PUMP Act (Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers), the law requires employers to provide reasonable break time for workers to express breast milk in a private place other than a bathroom. 

All employers in New York and New Jersey are already required to provide reasonable break time and a private place other than a bathroom for nursing mothers to express breast milk for up to one year after the child’s birth. Under the new federal PUMP Act, all employers nationwide engaged in interstate commerce with at least two employees and revenues of at least $500,000 are required to do the same. 

Note that small employers of less than 50 employees may be exempt, but only if compliance would cause the employer “significant difficulty or expense.” Keep in mind that this may be hard to prove. 


What’s a suitable private place for an employee to express breast milk?

Such an area should have: 

  • a place to sit, 
  • a surface on which to place the pump, 
  • and access to electricity. 

The space can be temporary, so long as it is private. 

Do employers have to pay their employees for breastfeeding breaks? 

Under the PUMP Act, an hourly employee does not have to be paid for breastfeeding breaks, unless the employee is not completely relieved from duty during the break. For example, if you require your employee to answer the phone while they’re pumping, then you must pay them for the entire break time. Employees exempt from overtime must be paid their full salary, even if they take pump breaks. Be sure to check your local wage and hour laws to see whether you need to provide paid breaks to your employees in general. 

Keep in mind that even if you are not required to do so, but you pay other employees for other types of breaks and do not pay your breastfeeding employees for their breaks, you could be in trouble. 

These issues are nuanced, and we can help. If you have questions about what employers are required to do to accommodate nursing mothers in the workplace, or you need help updating your policies,

Please keep in mind that this is general information, not legal advice. And the law may change at any time. 

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