House passes expanded workplace protections for nursing mothers

Last week, in a bipartisan vote of 276-149, the House of Representatives passed Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney’s (D-NY) Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act.

The legislation will ensure that all nursing mothers have protections in the workplace by expanding them to nearly 9 million employees not currently covered by existing law.

Maloney has introduced a version of the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act since 2011, and was the author of the 2010 Break Time for Nursing Mothers Act, which originally established these vital workforce protections.

The Congresswoman introduced the bill this year with Congressional Maternity Care Caucus co-chairs Congresswomen Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), and co-chairs of the Black Maternal Health Caucus Alma Adams (D-NC) and Lauren Underwood (D-IL).

The law expands the 2010 Break Time for Nursing Mothers Act, which requires employers to provide nursing employees time and private space — other than a bathroom — to pump.

The new legislation protects an additional 9 million employees previously exempt from the protections, such as teachers, nurses and farm workers. It also makes clear to employers when pumping time can be unpaid and ensures nursing employees have access to remedies available to others under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

“For the health and safety of mothers and their babies, all working moms who want to breastfeed must have the time and space to pump breastmilk,” said Rep. Maloney. “These employees and their families suffer when these basic rights aren’t met.”

“Making sure moms can pump at work promotes healthier families, and it’s also important to help businesses recruit and retain the workforces they need,” said Rep. Herrera Beutler. “That’s why I’m pleased the House approved this business-friendly, bipartisan legislation – endorsed by leading business associations like the U.S. Chamber of Congress and the National Retail Federation – that simply provides moms with reasonable opportunities to pump in their workplace.”

“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.”


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