Levin Amendment Expanding Protections for Workers Expressing Breastmilk Passes Committee with Bipartisan Support

May 26, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – An amendment authored by Congressman Andy Levin (MI-09) to the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act (PUMP Act) passed the House Education & Labor Committee today. Rep. Levin’s amendment clarifies that the expanded breaktime and space protections of the PUMP Act must apply to workers who have experienced a stillbirth, and, in the case of adoption or surrogacy, apply to the adoptive and biological mother or gestational carrier. The amendment also extends the bill’s breaktime and space protections from one year to two years.

“When we talk about workers who might need to express breastmilk while at work, we’re all likely thinking about those who have given birth recently and are now breastfeeding a new baby. And while, of course, we want to make sure those workers have the protections outlined in this

bill, they’re not the only workers who might need them,” said Rep. Levin. “Workers who have experienced a stillbirth, who adopt or place their baby for adoption, or who serve as or have a baby through a surrogate—all of these workers might also need to express breastmilk at work, and all of them deserve the same protections. Some of these experiences might be difficult or even tragic for a mother. We have the chance today to make a simple change that, perhaps, can make their circumstances just a little less hard to get through. Finally, extending these protections for an additional year will allow workers to express breast milk for up to two years as recommended by experts like the World Health Organization for its continued health benefits.”

Congressman Levin’s amendment passed by a vote of 44-3.

The Break Time for Nursing Mothers Act, enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to require employers to provide (1) reasonable break time, which does not need to be paid, to express milk for one year after a child’s birth and (2) a private, non-bathroom space for nursing employees to express breastmilk while at work. Unfortunately, gaps in the law limit how workers can hold their employers accountable when they violate these requirements.

The PUMP Act would provide more nursing workers with enforceable protections. It would amend the FLSA to extend nursing protections to workers currently excluded from overtime protections; ensure workers can recover appropriate forms of relief in court, including reinstatement and back pay; and clarify that a worker must be completely relieved of duty during unpaid breaks.

The PUMP Act is supported by the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee, the ACLU, a Better Balance, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.