During the last day of the 2019 legislative session, the Kentucky General Assembly passed Senate Bill 18, known as the Pregnant Workers Act. This act was officially signed into law on April 9 and impacts thousands of local businesses in the state of Kentucky. Under the Pregnant Workers Act, employers will be liable if they fail to provide reasonable accommodations to employees for pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition unless it would impose an undue hardship on the employer.
To prepare for the new law, businesses need to understand which employers will be required to comply, what qualifies as a “reasonable accommodation,” and the risks for employers who are not compliant.
Who is required to comply with the new Pregnant Workers Act?
Employers with at least 15 employees (or agents of the employer) within the state of Kentucky in each of at least 20 calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year are impacted. The Act requires these employers to conspicuously post a notice of employees’ rights under the Act on the business premises, and provide written notice to all new employees upon hire and all existing employees within 30 days of the Act’s effective date on June 27, 2019.
What qualifies as “reasonable accommodations” or “undue hardship” under the law?
While specific unique accommodations should be considered and agreed upon in a timely manner between employer and employee, the law provides several examples of what qualifies as a reasonable accommodation:
- More frequent or longer breaks
- Time off to recover from childbirth
- Acquisition/modification of equipment
- Appropriate seating
- Temporary transfer to a different position
- Modified schedules
- Light duty
- Private space, other than a restroom, for expressing breast milk
To determine whether undue hardship exists, an employer needs to consider the duration of the requested accommodation and whether the employer has a policy of providing similar accommodations (in the past or currently) to other employees, for any reason. If these policies or practices already exist, then it would be rebuked that an undue hardship exists for the employer.
What are the potential consequences for employers who are not found to be in compliance with the new Act?
Employers that do not comply with the new Pregnant Workers Act could be open to a variety of employment risks such as civil liability, fines or penalties, or other agency action from the Kentucky Human Rights Commission.
If you have questions regarding how the law may further impact your business or need assistance communicating the proper required notices to employees, please contact the Erigo team. Our trained professionals can help ensure that your company policies are right for your business.