During the most recent legislative session, the Maryland legislature enacted a new law which requires employers to give reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities due to pregnancy. It is very important for small businesses to understand this law and be aware of its impact on their operations.
Who is affected?
If you have fifteen employees for twenty consecutive weeks, then you must implement and comply with the new law.
When is the law effective?
The law takes effect on October 1, 2013. However, it requires employers take certain steps beforehand, so you should begin considering the implications now.
What does the law require?
The law allows an employee, who is disabled due to pregnancy, to request a reasonable accommodation. If you receive such a request, you must explore how to provide the accommodation. The appropriate steps can include: (1) changing the employee’s job duties; (2) changing the employee’s work hours; (3) relocating the employee’s work area; (4) providing mechanical or electrical aids; (5) transferring the employee to a less strenuous or less hazardous position; or (6) providing leave. The reasonable accommodation may not impose an undue hardship on the employer. You may also request a certification from the employee’s healthcare provider. In addition, there are very specific guidelines about the particular situation if the pregnant employee requests a transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position.
What do you need to do now?
The law requires all employers to place a notice of this policy in a conspicuous place, including an employee handbook. You should consider taking this opportunity to enact or update policies. Finally, you may want to review other policies related to pregnancy and disability to ensure compliance with this new law. If your business has more than fifteen employees, then you will be required to implement and follow this law. We encourage you to consult with us about how to prevent potential issues and how to handle requests from employees for reasonable accommodation.
If you have any questions, please contact Ginny Cascio at (240) 778-2308 or firstname.lastname@example.org.