Babies begin feeding soon after birth and just keep on feeding. Families need a way to provide breast milk while they are at work.
For this purpose, the PUMP Act was designed. (PUMP stands for Providing Urgent Maternal Protections. ) This law would reinforce and improve upon previous federal laws.
The House passed a version of the PUMP Act in October, 2021 with a bi-partisan vote of 276-149. When it was brought to the Senate in June 2022, there was an objection and the bill did not pass that day. Negotiations are continuing.
This is important. We constituents can learn about this PUMP Act and contact our senators. Weigh in on this as a grandparent, friend, health care provider. Families benefit from support from many corners.
Here’s the background:
In 1993, when the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed, it was a start. However, many families received little or no benefit from this. As one example, the FMLA did not apply to non-salaried workers, those who are paid hourly. In 2010, when the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law was passed, it did apply to non-salaried workers. It also required break time and a space to pump that is not a bathroom. However, defining ‘break time’ was unclear and there was little enforcement for inadequate spaces for pumping breaks.
The PUMP act is designed to remedy these gaps. This act more clearly defines paid time and unpaid time for pumping. For example, a teacher who is grading papers while pumping is working, not taking a break. Employers will be required to pay employees time spent pumping if they are also working.
In addition, the PUMP Act defines a private, clean space. For instance, an office with a door that doesn’t lock does not qualify even though it is not a bathroom. It seems obvious though these are the gaps that undermine employee support. The PUMP act makes these requirements more enforceable. It provides a way for employees to hold employers accountable if they do not comply with this law. Employers will be notified if they are not in compliance and will be allowed 10 days to comply once notified.
In 2019, there were two notable, high award cases for women who were not granted their right to pump. I applaud the women and their lawyers who took that to court and won.
Though that’s a lot of effort, time and money for what is a right.
Autumn Lampkins, a defendant in one of these lawsuits, said that because of the harassment, she switched to formula sooner than she had wanted to do. The PUMP Act extends this legal protection for two years, up from one year of the FMLA. That’s an important mark. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies receive breast milk for two years. The PUMP act makes it more possible.
Family care needs to be understood much better. Parents at work are still parents, connected to their child throughout the workday. Providing breast milk is a normal part of childcare and is an important aspect of employee health. This is important advocacy for healthy families.
Passage of the PUMP Act is the improvement of previous laws and will be of more benefit to more families.
United States Breastfeeding Committee information on the PUMP Act.