Illinois Employers: Are You Ready For The New Pregnancy Discrimination And Accommodation Amendment?

Oct 03, 2014

Illinois employers need to add another item to their HR “to do” list for 2015. In addition to Illinois’ “Ban the Box” law set to take effect Jan. 1, 2015, employers also need to begin providing additional workplace accommodations to pregnant and new mother employees and applicants next year.

Public Act 098-1050, signed by Gov. Quinn on Aug. 25, 2014, amends the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) to prohibit pregnancy discrimination and allow women to request workplace accommodations for medical and other conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. In addition, employers must comply with a new notice posting requirement and update their handbooks to reflect the amendment’s protections.

Currently, many Illinois employers are only required to comply with federal laws as they relate to pregnancy discrimination and accommodations. For example, an employee who seeks a leave of absence to give birth and bond with her child often does so by taking up to 12 weeks of leave protected by the Family Medical Leave Act. Under the new IHRA amendment, however, a reasonable accommodation for a pregnant or new mother employee may be a leave of absence longer than 12 weeks.

If your organization has employees in Illinois, prepare now to be in compliance with the new IHRA amendment. All employers need to modify their discrimination, accommodation and leave policies to align with the amendment’s requirements. The new IHRA requirements are significant and warrant close policy review and changes to ensure managers and HR personnel are comfortable administering pregnancy-related accommodations, most notably, leaves of absence, after the first of the year. Getting a head start on 2015’s new legal requirements now will save your HR department from a rocky road later.

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