NEW PREGNANCY ACCOMMODATIONS ACT UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFIT YEAR RESETS

MANAGEMENT INFORMATION RELEASE

 

FROM:                      Sloan, Montgomery, Gregory & Hall, Inc.

SUBJECTS:            New Pregnancy Accommodations Act

                                    Unemployment Benefit Year Resets

DATE:                        August 1, 2018

 

New Pregnancy Discrimination Act Takes Effect in South Carolina

South Carolina recently enacted the SC Pregnancy Accommodations Act which, among other things, provides protection from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or any relative medical conditions.  Ultimately, this state law overlaps and reiterates the regulations that already exist on a federal level to protect pregnant employees. The federal regulations such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) all provide anti-discrimination provisions that protect pregnant employees, but the state’s new Pregnancy Accommodations Act amends certain definitions relative to pregnancy, cites specific examples of accommodations that may be reasonable for an employer to make for pregnant employees, and mandates new posting and notice requirements.

Among the reasonable accommodations that the Act may require employers to consider are:  more frequent or longer breaks; providing a private place for expressing milk; allowing the pregnant employee the option to sit while working; offering temporary work in less strenuous positions, if available; providing light duty work, if available; etc.

In regard to the new notification requirements, the Act requires covered employers (those with 15 or more employees) to immediately start providing written notice to every future new hire of their rights under this law, which includes informing them that they have a “right to be free from discrimination for medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”  The act requires all new hires to be informed of this information at the beginning of employment.  Covered employers must then notify all current employees by September 14, 2018, which can be done by openly posting a notice in a common area for all employees to see.  However, due to the confusion of having two compliance dates (immediately for new hires and September 14thfor existing employees), the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission has verified that they will not be enforcing the new notification provisions for any employees until the latter of the two dates, September 14th.

At this point, no governing bodies (State Legislature or South Carolina Human Affairs Commission) have issued guidance on these new rules, but the Human Affairs Commission has revised their general notice that employers are required to post to include pregnancy accommodation.  We have added this updated notice, along with other updated state notices, to our laminated, all-in-one state poster that is available for $25 (plus postage). Otherwise, you can obtain a paper copy of this poster at the following link:

  1. Go to the SC Human Affairs website at schac.sc.gov.
  2. Click on the link “About Us”.
  3. Go down to “Brochures & Posters”.
  4. Select “Employment Discrimination Poster”.

Until additional guidance is provided, we suggest updating your EEOC statement/policy to include the language, “Employees have the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”  This updated statement/policy can be included in your new-hire employment packet.  This should satisfy the notification requirements for the time being, until additional guidance is provided in the following months.

Even though this Act overlaps the already existing federal laws concerning pregnancy in the workplace, South Carolina’s ultimate goal is to emphasize the protection for pregnant employees by requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations in the workplace should such needs arise.  Essentially, when employers are made aware that they have a pregnant employee who may have a related medical need, it is advisable to call the consultants at Sloan Montgomery to discuss the situation and make every effort to ensure that the proper steps are taken and a reasonable accommodation is offered, if possible.

 

Unemployment Benefit Year Resets in Carolinas and Georgia

July 1stmarked the start of a new year for unemployment tax rate determination in South Carolina and Georgia, while North Carolina reset on August 1st.  Each state uses a three-year rolling period to set the rate each calendar year; therefore, the data to be used to determine each company’s 2019 rate is now in place using the applicable three year period that started either July or August 1, 2015.  The applicable rate for the upcoming year will be mailed to each company in November or December.  As there are several unknown variables used to determine the new rates, there is no clear way to know for sure at this point what any company’s rate will be next year   However, do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to take a “best guess.”

As there is nothing that can be done now to impact the 2019 rate, it may be more useful to discuss what can be done at the early stages of the new benefit year to potentially lessen the applicable SUTA rate in 2020 and beyond.  Training can be provided to management staff to make them aware of how the tax determination process works and how proper handling of employment separations and any subsequent benefit claims can result in significant savings to the company.


If you have questions regarding the topics covered in this Information Release, you may contact our firm, Sloan, Montgomery, Gregory & Hall, Inc., at (803) 782-9246.

This bulletin is provided as a service to clients and is only to give information of a general nature.  It is not intended as, nor should it be considered, legal advice or opinion.

 

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