Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers (PUMP Act)
On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed into law the bipartisan Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act. The PUMP Act will become effective on June 27, 2023, and will apply to all employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Act expands considerably on the employment protections afforded to nursing employees via the Break time for Nursing Mothers Law (Break Time Law). The Act is likely a result of revived conversations surrounding family and breastfeeding support prompted by the formula shortage crisis as well as guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics on the benefits of breastfeeding. The Act’s expanded provisions are especially critical to low-income workers who are more likely to work in jobs without parental leave or spaces to safely pump and store breastmilk.
The PUMP Act requires employers to provide nursing employees two things:
- A reasonable amount of break time to express breast milk as frequently as needed up to one year following the birth of the employee’s child; and
- Space to express breast milk that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public and is not a bathroom.
The space to express breast milk can be a converted or temporary space and does not need to be dedicated solely to nursing employees, provided that the space is available when they need it. Employers are not required to pay their employees for lactation breaks under the PUMP Act as long as the employee is completely relieved of duties during the break. If the employee is not completely relieved of their duties, they must be paid for the entire break. For exempt employees, they should be paid their full weekly salary as required by federal, state, and local law, regardless of whether they take breaks to express breast milk.
Small employers (less than fifty employees) may be excused from compliance with the PUMP Act if they can demonstrate that compliance would impose an “undue hardship” by causing the employer “significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.”
Employers of all size should determine and designate adequate space for their employees to express breast milk. Employers should also ensure that their break and timekeeping policies comply with the PUMP Act—and update their policies if not.
Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation’s 2022 corporate equity index (CEI), which assesses policies and practices indicative of employers’ commitment to equality, showed that 97% of businesses included in the CEI have protections for nonbinary and transgender workers. This number is a far cry from 2002, which showed that only 5% of CEI companies had such policies in place.
The annual report, which surveyed more than 1,200 companies, also indicated:
- More than 660 major businesses have adopted gender-transition guidelines to establish best practices in transgender inclusion for managers and teams.
- About 66% of Fortune 500 companies have transgender-inclusive health care benefits, such as routine, chronic care and transition-related medical coverage.
- There are 22 times as many employers offering transgender-inclusive health insurance coverage as there were in 2009.
Although progress in the transgender inclusion space has been made, transgender individuals still face discrimination and violence that can influence their physical and psychological safety. Indeed, according to a 2021 report by McKinsey and Co., more than half of transgender employees report not being comfortable being out at work. The McKinsey report noted that not being one’s authentic self at work can result in transgender individuals having more difficult and inequitable employment experiences and can lead to severe mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Companies should strive to revamp or draft policies on protections for their transgender workers in order to reduce inequitable employment experiences and devastating mental health risks.
 https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/global-and-cultural-effectiveness/Pages/Transgender-Inclusion-at-Work-Reaches-Record-Numbers.aspx; https://reports.hrc.org/corporate-equality-index-2022.