Press Release
Health Reform Gives Nursing Moms a “Reasonable Break” at Work

The Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act established a new federal standard for nursing mothers to be allowed a “reasonable break time” and a place to pump breast milk at work. Championed by Senator Jeff Merkley (OR), the Reasonable Break Time for Nursing Mothers provision took effect when health reform became law. The National Partnership for Women & Families has developed a new fact sheet that offers details of this provision and answers key questions including who is covered, how much time nursing mothers will get to pump, what kind of location an employer must provide, and if mothers will be paid for the time they are pumping.

“With evidence mounting that breast-feeding promotes infant health and saves billions in medical costs, nursing women need this support,” said National Partnership President Debra L. Ness. “This modest provision can provide tremendous benefits. Many mothers are torn between trying to breast-feed for as long as they can, and their need to quickly return to jobs that do not provide sufficient time or privacy to pump during work hours.”

“We thank Senator Merkley — as well as longtime champion Representative Carolyn Maloney (NY) — for their advocacy,” Ness added. “This is especially welcome now, when few workers have paid family leave and so many families rely on women’s income. This will help bring our country one step closer to creating the kind of family friendly work environments that benefit us all.”

The new law gives nursing women the right to unpaid time and a private place “other than a bathroom” to pump breast milk at work for the first year after a child’s birth. It applies to all employers, with some exceptions for businesses with fewer than 50 workers that can show that complying would cause “undue hardship.” The provision covers hourly workers — including wait staff, retail workers call center workers, some factory workers — who are most likely not to have access to a time and place to pump. Regulations are yet to be issued. More information is available here

For more information, contact us:

National Partnership for Women & Families logo

National Partnership Media Line
(202) 986-2600

About the National Partnership for Women & Families

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help all people meet the dual demands of work and family.

More information is available at

For general inquiries, please email