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New Pregnancy Disability Poster and Notice Obligation

*This post comes to you courtesy of our friends at Melita HR.

The following employment law changes go into effect on April 1, 2016 and require immediate action for California employers:

New Pregnancy Disability Poster and Notice Obligation

The regulations require covered employers (those with five or more employees in California) to provide “reasonable advance notice of their rights and obligations concerning pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions.”  Notice must be provided in two forms – through a workplace poster and through a separate written notice provided as soon as practicable after learning of an employee’s pregnancy.

The new posting will soon be available at the Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s website, www.dfeh.ca.gov.  Both the posting and the separate notice to be provided to employees individually must inform them of: (a) their right to request reasonable accommodation, transfer or a leave of absence, (b) their obligation to provide notice to the employer, and (c) any requirement to provide medical certification to establish eligibility for reasonable accommodation, transfer or a leave of absence.

If an employer maintains an employee handbook that describes other kinds of reasonable accommodation, transfers or leaves of absence available to its employees (as almost all employers do, through their EEO, FMLA/CFRA and/or medical leave of absence policies), it must either include a description of reasonable accommodation, transfer and leave relating to pregnancy in the next revised version of its employee handbook or distribute a notice of employee rights and obligations at least annually.

Updated Discrimination and Harassment Policies

California law has long required employers to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace, but until now it has offered little guidance on the specific measures employers should take.  The new amendments confirm that employers should maintain written policies against discrimination and harassment that, among other things:

  • List all protected categories under the Fair Employment and Housing Act;
  • State that the law prohibits co-workers and third parties, in addition to managers and supervisors, from engaging in prohibited conduct;
  • Outline complaint processes that provide for timely and impartial investigations by qualified personnel, appropriate remedial actions and confidentiality to the extent possible, without requiring employees to submit complaints to their direct manager or supervisor;
  • Identify the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as agencies that consider employee complaints;
  • Instruct managers and supervisors to report complaints of discrimination or harassment to a designated company representative; and
  • Confirm employees will not be subject to retaliation for submitting complaints or participating in investigations.

Employers must update their policies and distribute the new policies. In addition to distributing the DFEH-185 brochure on sexual harassment, employers must disseminate their policies against discrimination and harassment through one or more of the following methods:

  • Printing and providing a copy to all employees with an acknowledgment form for the employee to sign and return;
  • Sending the policy via e-mail with an acknowledgment return form;
  • Posting current versions of the policies on a company Intranet with a tracking system ensuring all employees have read and acknowledged receipt of the policies;
  • Discussing policies upon hire and/or during a new hire orientation session; and/or
  • Any other way that ensures employees receive and understand the policies.

Contact your HR services for help updating your Employee Handbook.