The Provision of Urgent Maternal Shields (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act passed the United States House of Representatives by a vote of 276 to 149 on October 22. If approved by the Senate and signed by the president, the bill would expand protections for nursing mothers. nearly 9 million employees currently not covered by the legislation in force. We have collected articles on the news of SHRM online and other media.
Additional employees would be protected
The bill would build on a provision in the Health Care Act 2010 requiring employers to allow reasonable break times and provide a private space other than a bathroom for nursing employees to take their breastmilk. The 2010 law does not apply to workers who are exempt from overtime requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act. But some of these workers have been protected by state laws. Senators Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, introduced complementary legislation to the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act, but their version has yet to reach the Senate floor.
Who would be covered by the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act?
“Agricultural workers, transportation workers and teachers are currently excluded from federal protections for nursing employees,” said Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va. He said the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act would address this issue. The bill guarantees all women break times and a clean space to breastfeed at work. “These basic accommodations ensure that breastfeeding mothers can balance their work, their health and the health of their babies,” Scott said.
In addition to eliminating exemptions for some employees, the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act would allow workers to seek reimbursement and reinstatement if they are fired for requesting breaks from pumping milk. The bill would also require employers to pay workers for time spent on those breaks if employees are not completely relieved of their duties during the breaks.
Although 59 Republican Representatives and all Democratic Representatives voted for the bill, Representative Virginia Foxx, RN.C., said, “This bill is a flawed bill and a stretched mandate.” She predicted it would “do more harm than good”, saying the bill would weigh on small businesses. “We must not burden companies with rigid policies that will expose them to legal action,” she said.
State law requirements
More than half of the states have laws specifically addressing breastfeeding accommodations in the workplace. “Like all laws that develop through a patchwork of state or local laws, each particular law will have its own particularities,” said Melissa Osipoff Camire, attorney at Fisher Phillips in New York.
For example, a state law may:
- Require breastfeeding accommodations for employees who are not covered under federal law.
- Provide paid breaks.
- Extend the period during which an employee is allowed to take nursing breaks beyond one year after the birth of a child.
- Provide specific requirements regarding the space available for employees to express breast milk.
- Prohibit discrimination against employees who express breast milk in the workplace.