Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act Coalition Letter
We, the undersigned organizations, urge you to support the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act. The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act would protect breastfeeding employees across the nation by strengthening the existing Break Time for Nursing Mothers law and has bipartisan support.
The Break Time for Nursing Mothers law (Break Time law), passed in 2010, provided critical protections to ensure that employees would have reasonable break time and a private place to pump breast milk. Unfortunately, the placement of the law within the part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that sets minimum wages and overtime resulted in 9 million women — nearly one in four women of childbearing age — being excluded from coverage and as such they have no clear right to break time and space to pump breast milk. Those left unprotected include teachers, software engineers, and many nurses, among others.
Without these protections, breastfeeding employees face serious health consequences, including risk of painful illness and infection, diminished milk supply, or inability to continue breastfeeding. According to a report from the University of California's Center for WorkLife Law, the consequences of this coverage gap also include harassment at work, reduced wages, and job loss.
Breastfeeding mothers who return to work should not have to struggle to find time and space to express milk, risking their supply and thereby their ultimate breastfeeding success. This past May, the House Education & Labor Committee advanced an amended version of the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act out of committee, with support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The amended bill strengthens the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law by expanding workplace protections for lactating workers, clarifying employers' obligations under the law, and ensuring breastfeeding mothers have access to appropriate remedies.
Breastfeeding is a proven primary prevention strategy, building a foundation for life-long health and wellness, and adapting over time to meet the changing needs of the growing child. The evidence for the value of breastfeeding to children's and women’s health is scientific, solid, and continually being reaffirmed by new research. Breastfeeding is proven to prevent a wide range of illnesses and conditions. Compared with formula-fed children, those who are breastfed 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 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and breast and ovarian cancers.
More than half of mothers return to the paid labor force before their children are three months old, with as many as one in four returning within just two weeks of giving birth. Many of these mothers choose to continue breastfeeding well after their return to work to meet standard health guidelines—and those employees need to express (or pump) breast milk on a regular schedule.
Businesses of all sizes and in every industry have found simple, cost-effective ways to meet the needs of their breastfeeding employees as well as their business. The HHS Office on Women's Health hosts the Supporting Nursing Moms at Work: Employer Solutions resource, which provides a critical link between the need for workplace support for breastfeeding families and the need for implementation guidance for their employers. The online resource provides a user-friendly tool that employers can easily navigate to identify and implement industry-specific solutions to providing time and space accommodations.
According to the HHS Business Case for Breastfeeding, employers that provide lactation support see an impressive return on investment (almost 3:1), including lower health care costs, absenteeism, and turnover, and improved morale, job satisfaction, and productivity. It is easier to provide temporary, scheduled breaks for milk expression than to cover the missed work shifts of an employee who is absent because either they or their baby is sick.
While 84% of babies are breastfed at birth, only 25% of U.S. infants are still exclusively breastfed at six months of age. Obstacles, especially workplace barriers, can make it difficult to fit breastfeeding into many parents' lives. But research clearly shows that employed mothers with access to workplace support are less likely to stop breastfeeding early.
The Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act is a common-sense and important step toward eliminating the barriers to breastfeeding and ensuring all families have the opportunity to reach their personal breastfeeding goals.
Kansas Action for Children
If you have questions about the PUMP Act, contact email@example.com to be directed to one of the following coalition partners: A Better Balance, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for WorkLife Law, the National WIC Association, or the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee.