PUMP Act Survey Results: Working Mothers Say Employers Need More Transparency about Lactation Support
We heard from thousands of working mothers¹ about how the new PUMP Act law (enacted December 2022) is impacting their workplace experiences. Nearly all said they weren’t sure what, if any, changes were made to accommodate pumping employees – indicating a potential lag in compliance in the wake of the new protections. Yet, overwhelmingly, new parents want to see visible signs of support from their employer.
Our research shows a definite disconnect between the new PUMP Act rights on paper and the reality in the workplace. We heard from moms about what can go wrong when there’s a lack of clarity and communication about workplace pumping rights:
I brought it up to my employer. She had no clue (about the new law) and was having me pump in the bathroom.
I had to research the laws myself and ask for accommodations.
I’ve been moved around the building 3 times. Hopefully the new area is my actual pumping space.
Key findings from our survey of working parents:
Compliance: Employers appear unaware that the PUMP Act is REQUIRED and is already enforceable
- The vast majority (95%) of working moms surveyed said nothing has changed or they weren’t sure if anything changed since the PUMP Act.
- Only 4% said their employers made any changes to company policies that support pumping employees since the PUMP Act was enacted.
The law is clear about employer expectations – at the minimum employers of all sizes must provide a private, dedicated lactation space (that’s NOT a bathroom) and reasonable break times. But amid these new regulations lies a lot of nuance about what constitutes compliant, functional lactation accommodations. For example, did you know that you can’t limit the number of pumping breaks an employee needs? That a lactation space must be available for pumping whenever an employee needs it? Or that a space needs to be private and secure enough that coworkers or the public cannot intrude?
If you’re unfamiliar with the PUMP Act, get up to speed immediately. Be sure your managers are apprised of the changes before they unintentionally create a compliance problem. Don’t wait until an employee files a complaint with the Department of Labor or pursues a lawsuit!
If your company doesn’t have a lactation accommodation policy – or if it’s time for a revamp in accordance with the new PUMP Act – here’s a template you can customize.
Transparency: Clear policies and communication can mitigate risk
- 57% of working parents said their employers did not communicate any news about the PUMP Act.
- Of those employers who communicated news about the PUMP Act, 55% opted for company-wide communication and 40% opted for targeted communication to pregnant and postpartum employees.
We see a gap here in actual company policies and the reality for employees. You may have an updated lactation accommodation program, but keeping it tucked away is not helping pregnant or postpartum workers who need clear signals of support to make decisions about return-to-work plans and pumping.
Oftentimes, busy moms will suffer silently and make their own way rather than approach an employer about their accommodation needs. The result is that culture doesn’t change and loyalty weakens. Employees may begin looking for more family friendly environments or even pursue a formal complaint.
If you’re already compliant with the PUMP Act, promote your support – early and often – through both companywide and targeted communication. At Kin, we offer a fully customizable email and text campaign sent to expecting parents at key points leading up to and after the arrival of a new baby. This high level of engagement ensures your benefits are useful and appreciated by new parents.
Lactation Accommodations: Majority of working moms feel unsupported
- Only 26% of working parents said their employer offers any benefits or support (e.g. pumps and supplies, breastfeeding classes, access to lactation experts, snacks, etc.).
- Only 5% indicated there were any changes for pumping employees since the PUMP Act was enacted.
- Only 7% said their employer made any changes to its lactation spaces since the PUMP Act was enacted. 51% said no changes were made and 43% weren’t sure.
An easy way to win with new moms: Take a few extra measures to make your existing lactation space more functional and welcoming. From providing company-sponsored pumps to comfy chairs, check out our simple tips on how to turn your lactation accommodations into a point of pride on your company tour.
Employee Satisfaction: Parents want employers to visibly support breastfeeding employees
- Nearly all (97%) of working mothers want employers to step up and show visible support of the expanded protections from the PUMP Act.
- The majority (80%) said it would leave a positive impression if their employer visibly supported parents who need to pump at work.
If you’re thinking of lactation support as just something to check off your compliance list, you’re missing an opportunity for retention. By investing in a robust lactation solution, you get that “cultural kick” of earning the trust of young parents and avoid the very real turnover costs of replacing working mothers who pursue other options due to caregiver demands.
Here’s how one mom felt when her employer made changes after the PUMP Act: I feel a stronger sense of belonging to my company.
¹The ‘PUMP Act and Your Workplace’ Survey of 3,600 working mothers was conducted by Medela in July 2023.