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Supporting Working Moms Act (SWMA)

Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to provide reasonable break time and a private, non-bathroom place for most hourly wage-earning (nonexempt) workers to express breast milk at work. Although it was intended to cover all employees, its placement within existing statute means that it does not cover millions of salaried executive, administrative, and professional employees, including teachers. While it provides protection and support for the most vulnerable workers, this distinction in the law was unintentional, causes confusion, and could be addressed with a simple amendment.

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12) have introduced the Supporting Working Moms Act (SWMA) to ensure a fair and uniform national policy by extending the existing federal provision to cover salaried employees, including elementary and secondary school teachers. The HHS Office on Women’s Health hosts Supporting Nursing Moms at Work, a comprehensive online resource providing businesses with cost-effective tips and simple solutions for all industries. Twenty-eight U.S. states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia also have state legislation to support breastfeeding in the workplace.

The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding; the Institute of Medicine report, Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention; and the National Prevention Strategy each call on employers to establish and maintain lactation support programs for their employees. Yet in spite of this tremendous recognition and recent expansion of support for breastfeeding moms in the workplace, only some moms are guaranteed this right.

House Bill Number: H.R. 3255

Senate Bill Number: S. 2122

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