May 16, 2013 — House and Senate Democrats have proposed legislation (S 934, HR 1941) that would expand a federal law requiring employers to give breastfeeding mothers time and a private place to pump milk at work, The Hill's "Floor Action Blog" reports (Lazar, "Floor Action Blog," The Hill, 5/14).
The federal law was established under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) in 2010 to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act. It requires businesses with 50 or more employees to provide break times and a private location -- other than a bathroom -- for mothers to express milk, up to an infant's first birthday (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/13/2010).
However, the law only applies to hourly workers. The new legislation -- called the Supporting Working Moms Act -- would extend the provision to salaried workers. The Senate version is sponsored by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), while Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D -N.Y.) introduced the bill in the House.
In a statement announcing the bill, Merkley cited a recent HHS report, "The Business Case for Breastfeeding," which found that breastfeeding-friendly businesses experience "lower health care costs, lower rates of absenteeism, and better retention of experienced employees" ("Floor Action Blog," The Hill, 5/14).