The Break Time for Nursing Mothers law (Break Time law), passed in 2010, provides protections to ensure that employees have reasonable break time and a safe, private place to pump milk. Unfortunately, the placement of the law within the section of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that sets overtime resulted in nearly 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, nurses, and many low-wage workers, among others.
The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act was developed through the collaboration of lactation advocates, business stakeholders, and congressional champions to address legislative gaps that have created challenges for breastfeeding families and employers alike. The PUMP Act closes the coverage gap; ensures that nursing workers have access to remedies that are available for other violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act while also giving employers a short window to comply with the private space requirements; extends protections to two years after the child's birth and protects lactating workers in the event of stillbirth, adoption, or surrogacy; directs the Department of Labor to issue guidance to assist employers in complying with the law; provides employers clarity on when pumping time must be paid and when it may be unpaid; and provides specific clarifications for airline workers.
"With the House passage of the PUMP Act, Congress just took a critical step forward to combat lactation discrimination in the workplace." said Dina Bakst, Co-Founder and Co-President of A Better Balance. “As we hear all too often, nursing mothers returning to the workplace face unfair treatment because their employers refuse to provide them with time and space to express breast milk. This can lead to devastating health and economic consequences for parents and their children. These challenges face many new nursing workers, but disproportionately low-wage working mothers of color. The PUMP Act will close gaps in our nation’s labor laws that have excluded millions of workers and finally guarantee them fair treatment. We thank Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Scott, and Congresswomen Maloney and Herrera-Beutler for their leadership on this critical legislation and urge the Senate to pass the bill without delay."
“Today’s House vote to pass the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act represents an important step in fixing broken policies that force women to choose between their jobs and their family’s wellbeing,” said Liz Morris, Deputy Director of the Center for WorkLife Law. “As detailed in our report, Exposed: Discrimination Against Breastfeeding Workers, nearly 2/3 of breastfeeding discrimination cases end in job loss; something we simply cannot afford during the pandemic as millions of women have been forced to leave the workforce because of their caregiving responsibilities. The PUMP Act is bipartisan legislation that would ensure lactating workers no longer lose their jobs or face serious health consequences because they lack basic legal rights.”
“Common-sense reforms can ensure that millions of nursing mothers are supported in the workplace, addressing one of the most common barriers to sustained breastfeeding. We are grateful for the bipartisan work, led by Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jaime Herrera Beutler, to craft sensible solutions that will result in real change for working mothers,” said Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President & CEO of the National WIC Association. “As the nation’s largest breastfeeding promotion program, WIC providers know that more work needs to be done to address barriers that keep mothers from reaching their breastfeeding goals. With longstanding scientific recommendations urging six months of exclusive breastfeeding as the gold standard of infant nutrition, businesses must be equipped to support employees who need reasonable break time and a private space to pump. The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act is an important step in supporting working mothers, and we urge the Senate to follow in advancing this critical legislation.”
“Today, the US House of Representatives addressed the critical needs of nursing workers by passing the bipartisan PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act (H.R. 3110). Employers in every industry should have policies in place to accommodate the needs of pregnant and breastfeeding employees but, unfortunately, that is not currently the case. Instead, too many workers are penalized, discriminated against, terminated, or left without options when they try to pump breast milk at work. The PUMP Act ensures that millions of employees left unprotected by current law will have a reasonable amount of time and a private place to pump breast milk at their place of work. This measured and long overdue legislation is essential to safeguard the health and economic security of families across the country. We applaud the House for taking action and thank Chairman Scott and Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Jaime Herrera Beutler for their leadership. The Senate should act swiftly to pass this bill,” said Vania Leveille, Senior Legislative Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union.
“Through the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law, we have ten years of data illustrating that early coordination and communication makes it easy for employers to anticipate and accommodate the needs of lactating employees. We are thankful for Congressional champions on both sides of the aisle coming together to move this critical legislation forward. It unequivocally demonstrates that breastfeeding is a bipartisan public health imperative,” says Nikia Sankofa, Executive Director of the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee. “We just made history together! The lactation field’s dedication to identifying and advancing a bipartisan solution that meets the needs of parents, babies, and employers is a testament to what we can accomplish together.”
The PUMP Act represents the first time ever that a standalone breastfeeding bill received a recorded vote in either chamber of Congress. The White House issued a statement of administrative policy on this legislation. Support for the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act is widespread. The bill received strong endorsements from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Retail Federation, National Education Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and more than 160 additional organizations. The Senate bill was advanced by the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee with unanimous bipartisan support in June 2021.
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