Reminder to Maryland Employers: Reasonable Accommodations For Disabilities Due To Pregnancy Act Takes Effect October 1st

Beginning on October 1, 2013, Maryland employers with 15 or more employees will have to comply with Maryland’s Reasonable Accommodations for Disabilities Due to Pregnancy Act.  As previously reported in The Employment Brief, the new law requires employers to explore “all possible means” of providing reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees, and also establishes new notice requirements.  However, employers do not have to make an accommodation that imposes an “undue hardship” (which is not defined) on the business.

Employers must post a notice in a conspicuous location and include in any employee handbook information concerning an employee’s rights to reasonable accommodations and leave for a disability caused or contributed to by pregnancy.  Under the new law, there are no “magic words” that an employer must use for its posters and employee handbooks.  However, it would be prudent to refer to the language of the Act, which states:

  • Employers must explore with a pregnant employee all possible means of providing reasonable accommodations, including: changing the employee’s job duties, changing the employee’s work hours, relocating the employee’s work area, providing mechanical or electrical aids, transferring the employee to a less strenuous or less hazardous position, or providing leave.
  • Employers may require certification from the employee’s health care providing concerning the medical advisability of a reasonable accommodation to the same extent certification is required for other temporary disabilities.
  • Employers may not interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of, or the attempt to exercise, any right provided under the Reasonable Accommodations for Disabilities Due to Pregnancy Act.

The Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (MCCR) recently issued guidance in anticipation of the new law:  The MCCR is currently in the process of updating its anti-discrimination posters and brochures, and plans on creating a model poster addressing the Act.

The new law enhances the rights of pregnant employees to reasonable accommodations, above and beyond those already provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Pregnancy Discrimination Act.  Covered employers can no longer be “pregnancy-blind” and will have to take into account additional requirements for providing pregnant employees with reasonable accommodations.

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