The PUMP Act: What Nursing Families Need to Know

Pump act imageBy Erin O’Reilly

The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) For Nursing Mothers Act PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act (the “PUMP Act”) was signed into federal law on December 29, 2022 and went into full effect on April 4, 2023. It makes several important changes to the 2010  Break Time for Nursing Mothers law, requiring employers nationwide to provide reasonable break time and a private, non-bathroom space for lactating employees to pump milk during the workday. The PUMP Act closes some loopholes that existed in the original 2010 law, especially the coverage gap that left one in four working women without federal protection of their rights to break time and a private place to pump milk at work. This new law expands the right to pump milk for their babies to nearly nine million more workers, including teachers, registered nurses, farmworkers, and others.

The PUMP Act also clarifies that pumping time counts as time worked when calculating minimum wage and overtime if an employee is not completely relieved from their work duties during the pumping break.

Although the PUMP Act covers nearly all workers, special rules apply to certain rail carrier and motorcoach employees, and airline flight crew members (flight attendants and pilots) remain uncovered by the law. Non-crew airline workers do have coverage under the PUMP Act, though.

The PUMP Act also has “legal teeth” and makes it possible for an employee to file a lawsuit against an employer that violates the law. The law’s expanded enforcement provision, which gives employees the right to file a lawsuit for monetary remedies, went into effect April 28, 2023.

The Department of Labor (DOL) is the federal agency that oversees this law. Employees can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) by calling the toll-free number 1-800-487-9243 or by visiting An employee will then be directed to the nearest WHD office for assistance, and WHD will investigate.

A lawsuit can be filed by the employee for employers’ violations of the breaktime requirement, if the employer has indicated it has no intention of providing private space for pumping, or if an employee has been fired or demoted for requesting break time or space. Employees must notify their employer in writing that time and space for pumping has been inadequate ten or more days before filing a lawsuit in court. Informing an employer about the lack of pumping time and space gives the employer an opportunity to correct the problem and will hopefully make a lawsuit unnecessary. Employers, especially small business employers, may need to be educated about this law. Employees can refer them to this website—

The PUMP Act protects workers nationwide. Any state and local laws that provide additional protections remain in effect and are not changed by the PUMP Act. It is also illegal for an employer to fire or discriminate against an employee for filing a complaint.

The organization, A Better Balance has a helpline for assistance in understanding the legal rights under the PUMP Act. Helpline support is available in English and Spanish, with other languages upon request.

Everyone is encouraged to understand and know how to use this law to help parents provide milk for their babies after returning to work outside the home! When employers are more knowledgeable and provide better support for lactating employees, this helps those employees continue breast/chestfeeding after returning to work. The babies of these breast/chestfeeding workers will grow up to be healthier future workers because of the better breast/chestfeeding support that this new law provides.

New Beginnings is seeking writers and stories for the blog! If you want to share your personal story of human milk feeding and parenting, a book review, a favorite recipe, or information about breastfeeding, please reach out to Kylie at [email protected]


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