Time and time again the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee hears from families, providers, and researchers about the challenges workers face trying to secure the necessary time and space to pump breast milk during their workday. In the face of infectious disease, labor shortages, and economic disruption, our nation cannot afford to continue to force parents to make an impossible choice between breastfeeding – a critical public health intervention – and returning to work – a vital element of economic recovery.
Today, Congress has a chance to fix it by voting yes for the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act (H.R. 3110).
The Break Time for Nursing Mothers law, passed in 2010, provided critical protections to ensure that some employees would have reasonable break time and a private place to pump breast milk at work. Unfortunately, the law's placement within existing statute meant that nine million women — nearly one in four women of childbearing age in the United States — were excluded from coverage and have no clear right to break time and space to pump. Those left unprotected include teachers, software engineers, and many nurses, among other critical professions.
A collaborative effort from Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle has led to the development of the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act (H.R. 3110). This commonsense legislation would strengthen the Break Time law by closing the coverage gap and ensuring that lactating parents have access to remedies while also giving employers a short window to comply with the private space requirements.
This bipartisan bill is supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation, the National Education Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and more than 160 other organizations. American families and employers need members of the U.S. House of Representatives to vote yes on H.R. 3110!
Employment is compatible with human milk feeding, and solutions to support lactating parents exist in all industries. In fact, studies show an impressive almost 3:1 return on investment for employers that provide lactation support, including lower health care costs, absenteeism, and turnover, and improved employee morale, job satisfaction, and productivity. The HHS Office on Women's Health hosts the Supporting Nursing Moms at Work: Employer Solutions resource, which provides a critical link between breastfeeding employees' need for workplace support and their employers' need for implementation guidance to provide that support.
For over ten years, the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee has worked with organizations and government agencies on this issue. We have documented the experiences of workers and employers, seen the innovative solutions created by businesses of all sizes, and identified the legislative gaps that need to be addressed. After more than a decade of raising awareness and mobilizing action, one thing is clear: America needs the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act.
By aligning federal law with the needs of families and ensuring that employers have the comprehensive resources and support that they need, we can create a better tomorrow together.