Hot Diggity, here’s a good start to 2023. President Biden signed the PUMP Act (Providing Urgent Maternal Protections) into law on December 29, 2022.
It’s important to note that this was a bi-partisan vote. The bill passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 276-149. It passed the Senate by a vote of 92-5. This recognizes the work that employees do at their job and as a parent. I’m hopeful more legislators understand the value of human breast milk for families.
With the PUMP Act in place, those employees who were previously exempt from the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Act of 2010 have protections. Notably, this law includes teachers and nurses, among many others.
• Break time for pumping is clearly defined. For example, when a teacher is writing a lesson plan while pumping, she is working. That is not a break. When a nurse is reviewing charts while pumping, she is working.
• Employers are required to provide a clean, private place, “other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”
• When there is a violation of any of these rights, employees now have a method to address violations. The National Law Review has written a good summary of rights and responsibilities of employers and employees.
Along with the PUMP Act, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) was signed into law. I remember when this passed in Massachusetts in 2018. A local representative heralded this progress and commented ‘It’s just makes sense to be kind and accommodating’. This now national bill requires employers to make accommodations for pregnant workers. Previously, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covered these concerns. However, pregnancy isn’t really considered a ‘disability’.
Pregnancy does, nonetheless, require an extra expenditure of energy. That fact is respected by providing more reasonable support. Some of the accommodations include:
• being able to sit rather than stand for an entire shift.
• allow extra time for bathroom breaks, to eat, drink water.
• help with manual labor, lifting.
• flexibility in scheduling for doctor appointments or morning sickness.
Both of these laws are beneficial for pregnant and lactating employees in the workplace.
Alas, there is still a crucial gap for postpartum support. During critical transitions, families need time. Families are worth the time. It makes an enduring impression on their well-being. The bi-partisan support for the PUMP Act and for pregnant workers has been good news. Establishing a solid Paid Family Leave policy in 2023 will be even more good news.