United States

White House backs workplace rights bill for nursing mothers

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The U.S. flag flies in a dawn breeze on top of the White House before the start of the midterm election in Washington, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

WASHINGTON, Sept 27 (Reuters) - The Biden administration on Monday said it is backing a bill that could give millions of new mothers more workplace rights when they pump breast milk.

A U.S. House of Representatives bill cosponsored by both Democrats and Republicans would, if passed and signed into law, require employers with 25 or more workers to provide time and private space for nursing mothers.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, extended those rights to only to smaller group of U.S. workers, leaving out some 9 million people including many teachers and farmworkers, according to lawmakers pushing for the bill.

The new bill would also allow mothers concerned that their rights are being violated to pursue legal action against their bosses.

Employers would not have to pay workers for time spent on those breaks.

"No new mother should face unfair treatment in the workplace because their employer refuses to provide them with reasonable break time and private, clean space needed to adequately express breast milk while at work, forcing them to choose between their health and the health of her child, and earning a paycheck," the White House's Office of Management and Budget said in a statement.

"Without these protections, nursing mothers face serious health consequences, including risk of painful illness and infection, diminished milk supply, or inability to continue breastfeeding."

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; editing by Richard Pullin

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