May 25, 2023
Returning to Work and Lactation - What Families Need to Know about the PUMP Act
By: Sharon Muza, BS, CD/BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE | 0 Comments
Human milk is the ideal food for newborns and infants. Many families face challenges in meeting their bodyfeeding goals. Interventions and events occurring at birth have a significant impact on lactation initiation. Subsequent barriers arise when lactating people return to work, and are separated from their baby for extended lengths of time. In the United States, in order to protect the bodyfeeding relationship, legislation such as the PUMP Act has been enacted and enhanced to support lactating people in the workplace.
What is the PUMP Act?
The PUMP Act, also known as the "Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act," is an updated and strengthened US federal law that aims to ensure that working lactating parents have reasonable break time and a private space to express milk while at work. It was enacted in 2010 as an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This enhanced PUMP Act acknowledges the importance of human milk and aims to promote and protect the rights of lactating parents in the workplace.
Key Provisions of the PUMP Act
- Break Time: The PUMP Act requires employers to provide reasonable break time for nursing parents to express human milk. These breaks must be provided whenever the parent has a need to express milk, typically for up to one year after the child's birth.
- Private Space: Employers are also required to provide a private space, other than a bathroom, for nursing parents to express milk. The space should be shielded from view, free from intrusion, and reasonably clean. It should be a functional area where the parent can comfortably express milk, store equipment, and maintain privacy.
Who is Covered by the PUMP Act?
The PUMP Act applies to most non-exempt employees covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which includes individuals working in the private sector and federal, state, and local government employees. However, certain small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for an exemption if compliance with the law would impose an undue hardship.
Why is the PUMP Act Important for Lactating People?
- Health Benefits: Human milk provides optimal nutrition for infants and offers numerous health benefits. By providing breaks and a private space for expressing milk, the PUMP Act enables lactating people to maintain their milk supply, ensuring their infants receive the essential nutrients and antibodies necessary for healthy growth and development.
- Workplace Support: The PUMP Act acknowledges the challenges faced by people who wish to continue to provide their baby with their milk after returning to work. By mandating break time and a private space, it promotes a supportive work environment that recognizes and values the needs of parents, ultimately encouraging them to continue bodyfeeding for longer durations.
- Compliance and Awareness: The PUMP Act provides bodyfeeding parents with legal rights and protections. It encourages employers to establish policies and procedures to comply with the law, fostering awareness and understanding of the importance of supporting bodyfeeding in the workplace.
Consider sharing the information below with your classes, so they can be prepared for self-advocacy to continue to meet their lactation goals when they return to work. They can take these steps to assert their rights under the PUMP Act:
- Know their rights: Familiarize themselves with the PUMP Act and understand the provisions it offers. Be aware of their entitlement to breaks and a private space for expressing milk.
- Communicate with their employer: Notify their employer about their intention to feed their baby with their human milk and discuss their needs regarding break time and a private space for expressing milk. Provide them with the necessary information to ensure compliance with the law.
- Understand workplace policies: Review their company's policies related to lactation and lactation support. If policies are not in place, work with the employer to establish them, ensuring they align with the requirements of the PUMP Act.
- Advocate for their needs: If their employer is not fulfilling their obligations under the PUMP Act, speak up and assert their rights. Contact their Human Resources department or consult with legal counsel if necessary.
- Seek community support: Join local bodyfeeding support groups or online communities to connect with other lactating parents who may have valuable insights and advice regarding navigating the workplace while bodyfeeding.
The newly enhanced PUMP Act serves as a crucial piece of legislation that protects the rights of lactating parents in the workplace. By ensuring break time and private spaces for expressing milk, the act empowers people to continue providing the best possible nutrition for their babies while pursuing their careers. Bodyfeeding parents should familiarize themselves with the PUMP Act and assert their rights to create a supportive and nurturing environment that celebrates and accommodates their bodyfeeding journey. Remember, every lactating person deserves support, understanding, and the opportunity to succeed both personally and professionally. Childbirth educators and other perinatal professions can help people prepare to return to work without compromising their feeding goals.
TagsAdvocacy Lactation Sharon Muza