Effective January 1, 2020, employers of 6 or more must provide reasonable accommodations to employees (and applicants) who have known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, or other related medical conditions. I addressed this new obligation in a previous post, but since we are nearing implementation, I thought I’d remind you of what this means for you. Before this bill passed, pregnancy was not considered a ‘disability’ for purposes of reasonable accommodations, and a female employee who could not perform the essential functions of her job could be fired. Now, if an employee cannot perform due to a known limitation related to pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, or other related medical condition, you will need to treat this limitation as you would any other disability – through the interactive process, determine whether there is a reasonable accommodation or whether accommodating the limitation would impose an undue hardship.
Your obligation doesn’t end there, though. You also need to provide notice of the Employer Accommodation for Pregnancy Act as follows:
- New hires: at time of hire
- Existing employees: within 180 days of the Act’s effective date (technically, June 29, 2020 – but you should just do it now)
- An employee who has informed you of her pregnancy: within 10 days
- Post signs in a conspicuous and accessible place so all employees know their rights under the Act
But wait! Why stop there? You should also update your handbook and your reasonable accommodation policy to reflect these changes. Your supervisors should also be trained on the interactive process and reasonable accommodation, and what is allowed/not allowed under this new law. Contact me to schedule a training or to chat about revising your policies and notices.