Contact: Cheryl Lebedevitch
Phone: 773-359-1549 x 21
PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act Receives Bipartisan Support in Both Houses of Congress
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 14, 2019
Chicago, IL -- The U.S. Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) celebrates the House introduction of the bipartisan Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act (H.R. 5592). The bill was introduced by Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12), who is joined by four bill co-leads: founding co-chairs of the Congressional Maternity Care Caucus Representative Jaime Herrera-Beutler (R-WA-3) and Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-40), and founding co-chairs of the Black Maternal Health Caucus Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) and Representative Alma Adams (D-NC-12). This is the companion legislation to Senate bill 3170, introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ).
The Break Time for Nursing Mothers law (Break Time law), passed in 2010, provides critical protections to ensure that employees have reasonable break time and a safe, private place to pump breast milk. Unfortunately, the placement of the law within the section of the Fair Labor Standards Act that sets overtime resulted in 9 million women — nearly one in four women of childbearing age — being excluded from coverage under the federal law. Those left unprotected include teachers, software engineers, and many nurses, among other workers.
The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act would protect and expand workers' right to breastfeed by extending the existing Break Time for Nursing Mothers law to cover salaried employees as well as other categories of employees currently exempted from protections. The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act would also ensure that breastfeeding employees have access to remedies that are available for other violations of the FLSA if an employer does not provide break time and a private space.
"When a breastfeeding employee returns to work, they need to express breast milk on a regular schedule. Typically, break time and a private space is all they need, yet breastfeeding workers across the nation routinely report that they are unable to access these simple accommodations. For these families, continuing to breastfeed can become difficult or even impossible," says Amelia Psmythe Seger, Deputy Director of the USBC.
According to a recent report from the University of California's Center for WorkLife Law, the consequences of this coverage gap also include harassment, reduced wages, and job loss. Without workplace protections, nursing mothers also may face serious health consequences, including risk of painful illness and infection, diminished milk supply, or inability to continue breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is a proven primary prevention strategy, building a foundation for life-long health and wellness for parents and children. Compared with formula-fed children, breastfed infants have a reduced risk of ear, skin, stomach, and respiratory infections; diarrhea; sudden infant death syndrome; and necrotizing enterocolitis. In the longer term, breastfed children have a reduced risk of obesity, type 1 and 2 diabetes, asthma, and childhood leukemia. Women who breastfed their children have a reduced long-term risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and breast and ovarian cancers. For all these reasons, every major medical authority, including the Department of Health and Human Services, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced for at least the first year of life.
Employment is compatible with breastfeeding, and solutions to support nursing mothers exist in all industries. In fact, the HHS Business Case for Breastfeeding shows an impressive return on investment (almost 3:1) for employers that provide lactation support, including lower health care costs, absenteeism, and turnover, and improved morale, job satisfaction, and productivity. Protecting breastfeeding workers means a healthier economy and healthier families.
Support for the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act is widespread. A joint letter urging Members of Congress to support the bill was signed by 47 international, national, & tribal organizations, and 74 regional, state, & local organizations. In addition, constituents have sent nearly 6,000 messages to Members of Congress in support of the bill.
"Implementation of the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law over the past ten years has shown that by coordinating and communicating ahead of time to find solutions, the needs of both breastfeeding employees and their employers can be easily anticipated and accommodated. Important legislation like the bipartisan PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act is a critical step toward creating a landscape of breastfeeding support across the United States." says Nikia Sankofa, Executive Director of the USBC.
For more information on the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act refer to USBC's Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act webpage.
For more information about the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law refer to the USBC's Online Guide: Everything You Need to Know About the "Break Time for Nursing Mothers" Law.
For more information on how employers can implement workplace accommodations for breastfeeding workers refer to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office on Women's Health Supporting Nursing Moms at Work resource.
For more information on breastfeeding discrimination refer to the Center for WorkLife Law report "EXPOSED: Discrimination Against Breastfeeding Workers."
For more information about the benefits of breastfeeding refer to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office on Women's Health webpage.
The U.S. Breastfeeding Committee is a national nonprofit organization that works to "drive collaborative efforts for policy and practices that create a landscape of breastfeeding support across the United States," with a focus on the values of leadership, integrity, and inclusion. USBC is made up of over 100 member organizations, including federal agencies, non-profit organizations, and breastfeeding coalitions.