The PUMP Act protects breastfeeding parents. HR must comply

An effective, supportive workplace lactation program entails more than offering a random unused room in the office.
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· 4 min read

Having a quiet, private, and clean space is vital for nursing parents to have a successful return to work. Thanks to the PUMP Act, which went into effect at the end of April, lactating parents now have the right to a designated private space, and time to pump during the workday.

HR pros can help to create a comprehensive lactation program for workers and provide spaces that are comfortable and functional, according to two experts.

The law. Lack of workplace accommodations can impede a new mother’s ability to continue feeding, according to a December 2022 study in the International Breastfeeding Journal. Women cite lack of work breaks, inadequate pumping space, and unclear policies as major contributors to discontinuing breastfeeding, according to the US Breastfeeding Committee. The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers Act, or PUMP Act, requires employers to provide feeding parents with adequate breaktime to pump, as well as a private space (not a bathroom) to do so. The breastfeeding employee must have access to these accommodations for one year following the birth of their child.

“Isolation is one of the most important indicators of whether or not baby-feeding goals are achieved,” said Leila Zayed, VP of sales at Pumpspotting, which connects breastfeeding parents. “Most families don’t breastfeed for as long as they intended to because they need stronger systems of support to reach their goals. So, having a great workplace program is not just about signaling support for women and families at work but also removing barriers to success.”

Pumping iron milk. Zayed said that a lactation space isn’t just a random unused room in the office, but should include, “A sink with warm water soap. A mirror for checking presentability. A comfortable chair…Refrigeration for cold milk storage that is designated for that milk expression space.” She said she’s heard countless stories about inadequate feeding facilities and non-lactating colleagues who have access to someone’s breast milk.

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AT&T shared images of one of its lactation rooms with HR Brew, which features small lockers for breast pumps, a refrigerator to store fresh milk, and a sink to adequately clean supplies.

Room with a lounge chair and table in the corner. a set of lockers and mirrors is across the room

via AT&T

“We provide time to pump as often as needed throughout the day and offer dedicated, private rooms to do so. To further support moms on their breastfeeding and parenthood journey, we offer breast-milk shipping services, 24-7 lactation support, paid postpartum doulas, and even benefits like career counseling and backup childcare services to help make the transition easier,” Julianne Galloway, VP of global benefits at AT&T, told HR Brew in an email.

Space, training, support. Any person who’s pumped understands the importance of a private space, but it’s more than that, argued Zayed; lactation spaces should be part of a larger lactation program to support parents. She explained that HR should also train managers on the milk expression policies, and inform new parents about lactation consultants they have access to. “There are real challenges that arise on a baby-feeding journey and having access to lactation consultants is what parents need in order to solve those problems,” she said.

Zayed also recommended that employers have a designated point-person for a lactation program, which many companies often fail to do in advance. Instead, they may ask a feeding parent to be the point of contact, which could unnecessarily add more responsibility to a parent with enough on their plate as it is.

Finally, Zayed said that employers should integrate messaging and education on the lactation program from when an employee starts. “It’s really important for all employees to be in the know about the workplace lactation program,” she said. “For employees who are considering growing their family, they’re looking around at their employers, and they’re asking themselves, ‘Is this where I want to grow my family?’”

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.