Merkley-Murkowski Bill Expanding Breastfeeding Protections for Workers Poised to Become Law

Washington D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today announced that their bipartisan Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support as an amendment to Congress’s fiscal year 2023 omnibus appropriations package, which is expected to pass both chambers of Congress and be signed into law by President Biden this week.  

“Breastfeeding is great for the baby and great for moms,” said Senator Merkley. “We must make it possible for every new mom returning to the workplace to have the option to continue breastfeeding. That option is also really good for business. With this bill, parents will be empowered to make their own choices on breastfeeding, and businesses can improve retention of valuable employees. It’s a win-win-win.”? 

“The health benefits of breastfeeding are without question. What has been a question is a women’s protection at the jobsite to pump safely. If a mother chooses to breastfeed her baby, she deserves the legal protection to do so without having to worry about it impacting her career,” said Senator Murkowski. “I am encouraged to see the PUMP Act pass the Senate—good progress toward ensuring no mother ever has to choose between a job and nursing her child.”

Inadequate time and space to pump in the workplace subjects countless employees to?harassment, reduced wages, and job loss, while others are forced to stop breastfeeding—with consequences for their own health and the health of their children.  According to the Surgeon General, breastfeeding can help protect babies from illnesses like ear, skin, and respiratory infections, diarrhea, and vomiting, as well as longer-term conditions such as obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and asthma. It also lowers mothers’ risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and other ailments.

The bipartisan?PUMP Act expands a 2010 law authored by Merkley and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12), which provides space and time for hourly employees to pump and store breast milk at work. This enables parents to continue breastfeeding, which is of enormous value to the health of our infants and breastfeeding parents. The new legislation expands these rights to salaried employees. Additionally, the legislation includes an anti-retaliation provision so workers have recourse against employers who flout the law.?