If you haven’t reviewed your attendance, sick leave, or pregnancy-related policies in a while, the time is right to ensure you stay up to date and prevent potential pitfalls. Parental leave and pregnancy accommodation policies may need updates Recent lawsuits, such as the one that the EEOC filed against Estee Lauder, claim companies’ parental leave policies violate sex discrimination laws if they provide male employees with less bonding leave upon the birth of a child than female employees receive. This serves as a reminder that parental leave policies should be reviewed periodically, and updated if necessary, to ensure they do not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of gender. In addition, Illinois requires employers with one or more employees to comply with pregnancy accommodation requirements or risk a claim under the Illinois Human Rights Act. Job applicants and part-time employees also are covered by the accommodation provisions. Illinois requires employers to include information regarding pregnancy accommodations in their employee handbooks and to post a notice in the workplace. Attendance policies can curb unemployment claims Employers in Illinois can use a well-written and consistently enforced attendance policy as a basis to protest an unemployment claim when an employee has been discharged for poor attendance. To take advantage of a revised definition of “misconduct” in the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act, employers can follow these three steps:
- Provide written notice to employees of reasonable attendance and punctuality requirements (and use a signed acknowledgement as proof the employee received notice)
- Issue at least one written warning when an employee violates the policy prior to a termination decision for repeated violations
- Ensure the attendance policy complies with federal, state, and local leave laws. This last point can prove to be a trap for the unwary if your attendance policy is not yet compliant with new local paid sick leave requirements. (See next section below.) In short, if an employee is entitled to use a paid sick day or leave under applicable laws, they generally should not be disciplined under the attendance policy.