Returning to work after having a baby can be incredibly challenging for any parent. You can be exhausted and sad to leave your new baby; if you are a lactating mother, you could also have physical needs and discomfort that can affect your typical workday.
If you are in this position and work in Michigan, you should know you have rights as a breastfeeding employee thanks to the recently passed PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act.
What does the PUMP Act protect?
Under this federal law, all employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) must give lactating employees unpaid break time to express breastmilk for up to one year after their child is born. The frequency and duration of breaks may vary, but both should be reasonable.
Further, the law restricts employers from requiring workers to use bathrooms or publicly-accessible and visible spaces for breastfeeding purposes.
Though there are exceptions, including situations in which such accommodations would create an undue hardship on the employer, employers across Michigan should comply with the requirements afforded by the PUMP Act.
Important takeaways for Michigan employees
If you are pregnant or recently had a baby, you should know what you can expect with the passage of the PUMP Act.
While Michigan lacks the state-level laws protecting breastfeeding employees that other states have, this federal law and other legislative measures are in place that can entitle you to:
- A private space to pump, which should have a door and working lock
- Protection against discrimination
- Reasonable (in frequency and duration) breaks to express milk
- Complete relief from work duties during these breaks
- Paid breaks, if your employer does not completely relieve you from work duties
Some optional offerings some employers might provide through individual policies could include:
- Lactation spaces with access to running water, electrical outlets and refrigeration
- Schedules to enable multiple workers to reserve time in these spaces
- Lactation support resources
- Assigning or allowing backups for women during breastfeeding breaks
If your employer promises or is legally required to provide these services and fails to, you could have grounds to file a complaint and take legal action. No employee should have to choose between their job and securing nourishment for their child; with these legal measures, millions of women won’t have to.