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Pregnancy Discrimination

How 3 States Expanded Pregnancy Discrimination and Family Leave Benefits

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Employees in every state are protected under federal laws pertaining to pregnancy discrimination and family leave benefits (discussed in these earlier blog posts); however, states and localities may pass laws that give additional protections and rights to pregnant employees.

All but five states have laws or interpretive case law in place providing protections against pregnancy discrimination. Such legislation may mirror federal laws, or in some instances expand upon them. While most states (and several cities) have passed laws requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers, at least five states and the District of Columbia have passed laws that provide paid family leave for employees caring for a new child.

Below are highlights of recent, more expansive legislation in three states.

New York

The New York Human Rights Law applies generally to employers with four or more employees. The law defines pregnancy discrimination as a form of sex discrimination and can be treated as a form of familial status discrimination.

Although the law treats pregnancy-related conditions as temporary disabilities, protections for employees go further than those under federal law by requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations regardless of whether the pregnant employee’s medical condition amounts to a disability. Such accommodations could include extra breaks for bathroom trips or increased water intake.

New York also recently passed legislation requiring employers to provide paid family leave for specified purposes, including the care of a newborn child. In 2018, eligible employees generally will be allowed to take up to eight weeks of paid family leave at 50% of their average weekly wage after the child’s birth. (See “New York to Implement Nation’s Most Comprehensive Paid Family Leave Program” for more details.)

Connecticut

A recent law amending the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act enhances protections for pregnant workers. Now it is unlawful:

  • to refuse to make reasonable accommodations for an employee due to her pregnancy
  • to deny employment opportunities to her or an applicant due to requests for such accommodations
  • to require her to take leave
  • or to limit, segregate or classify her in a way that would deprive her of employment opportunities due to pregnancy

The law also expands the definition of “pregnancy” to include related conditions – such as lactation – and includes more precise definitions of “reasonable accommodations” and what constitutes an “undue hardship.”

Massachusetts

Similarly, the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act goes beyond federal laws to require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees, such as job restructuring or more frequent and longer breaks because of their pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions.

The law requires an employer to engage in a good-faith conversation with a pregnant employee to determine effective, reasonable accommodations that would allow her to perform essential functions of her job. Furthermore, the act indicates that employers may not request documentation from a health care provider when the accommodation requested is for more frequent restroom, food or water breaks; seating; or limitations on lifting over 20 pounds.

Several states have joined New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts in implementing laws that are geared toward combating pregnancy discrimination, providing affected employees with necessary accommodations and providing for paid family leave to care for newborn children. While most of these laws are similar, some differences exist, such as defining what constitutes a “reasonable accommodation” or specific eligibility requirements for paid family leave.

Make sure you’re keeping up-to-date on your state and city’s pregnancy-related laws. The previous posts in our pregnancy discrimination series can be found here:

 

Disclaimer: This blog includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal problems.


Kristin Fisher

by Kristin Fisher


Author Bio:

As a compliance attorney for Paycom, Kristin Fisher monitors legal and regulatory changes at the state and federal level, with a focus on labor and employment laws, to ensure the Paycom system is updated accordingly. Previously, she served as an attorney at the Oklahoma City law firm Derryberry & Naifeh LLP. Fisher earned a bachelor’s degree and MBA from the University of Central Missouri, and her Juris Doctor from the Oklahoma City University School of Law. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, hiking, going to the movies and spending time with her fiancé.

Employer Brand

4 Weaknesses in an Employer Brand From a Galaxy Far, Far Away

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With the holiday moviegoing season upon us, one of the most anticipated blockbusters – about a continuing space battle – is approaching at warp speed. Earlier entries in this enduring franchise actually can teach us about one of today’s hottest HR topics, the employer brand.

The first film’s hero – we’ll call him Lou Swashbuckler – is the most desired talent across several planets. The evil Dark Overlord and his Galaxy Syndicate want him for his special abilities, while Her Highness Laura and her Renegade Association seek his morale and piloting expertise. In the end, Swashbuckler decides to side with the organization whose values and ambitions most closely align with his goals — the good-guy Renegade Association.

Learn more about the employer brand by subscribing to Paycom’s HR Break Room podcast.

Despite having more resources and benefits, the Galaxy Syndicate still lost the war for Swashbuckler’s top talent. Here are four reasons why its employer brand proved unattractive.

  1. Galaxy Syndicate employees are poorly trained

As a workforce, Dark Overlord’s Galaxy Syndicate suffers from a reputation of being less than high-performing. Its low-level, white-helmeted troops are so ineffectively trained for their positions, they can’t even exhibit precise aim with their work-issued weaponry. A few other skills they lack include safely driving levitating vehicles, securing prisoners and identifying people of interest. Plus, they are easily distracted by strange noises and have a keen inability to focus on the task at hand.

These issues found consistently among multiple employees point to a lack of training within the organization. If the Syndicate does not place ability at a high bar, it is easy to see why so many unskilled prospects would apply to this behemoth of an organization. To positively influence his company’s culture and attract quality talent, Dark Overlord should invest his vast resources into proper training on a companywide basis.

  1. The Syndicate has an undeniably high turnover rate

It is no secret that having Dark Overlord for a boss can be hazardous to one’s health. Between the treacherous work conditions of building a battle station while under fire and being ordered to fly straight into a crowded asteroid field, Galaxy Syndicate employees do not last long. The high turnover rate is just another sign of an employer brand that places no value on the livelihood of its people.

Top performers are not going to apply for a company that disregards their well-being. In order to positively influence the employer brand, the Syndicate should craft more specific employee-protection policies and create safety training courses.

  1. The Syndicate bleeds quality talent

Due to the high turnover rate, toxic work culture and the oftentimes ethically questionable nature of the Galaxy Syndicate’s work, many of its best employees eventually defect in favor of joining its biggest competitor, the Renegade Association. That competition may offer a smaller paycheck and more modest benefits, but the scrappy organization’s values and methods are more likely to attract the best workers in less than 12 parsecs.

The Syndicate’s revolving door of employees creates an employer brand and culture of indifference, anonymity and disinterest in comradery. In order to change the perspective of his employer brand, Dark Overlord should create organizational values and a clear mission statement to inspire teamwork and rally his workforce before they quit … or die.

  1. The Syndicate isn’t even a top-performing organization

The destruction of two of the Galaxy Syndicate’s home bases – aka Doom Planets – demonstrates that biggest is not always the best. Its consistent record of failure against a significantly smaller competitor is unattractive and unlikely to draw skilled talent. The organization may have unlimited marketing and recruiting resources to lure applicants, but ultimately, its values attract villainy not invested in the overall success of the organization. This can lead to, at minimum, a toxic culture with high turnover and, quite possibly, the company’s ultimate defeat.

When you are a large company, it is easy to become content with the status quo and, therefore, less invested in your employer brand. But do not become negligent after achieving success. To maintain an employer brand that will attract invested employees, create a strong mission statement and purpose – one around which the workforce will want to rally.

When considering your own employer brand, consider the Galaxy Syndicate’s less-than-stellar reputation and the low quality level of its employees to understand the type of workforce you don’t want to attract. Then try to do the opposite. (Actually, there is no “try.”)

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Posted in Blog, Featured, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management

caleb.masters

by Caleb Masters


Author Bio:

Caleb is the host of The HR Break Room and a Webinar and Podcast Producer at Paycom. With more than 5 years of experience as a published online writer and content producer, Caleb has produced dozens of podcasts and videos for multiple industries both local and online. Caleb continues to assist organizations creatively communicate their ideas and messages through researched talks, blog posts and new media. Outside of work, Caleb enjoys running, discussing movies and trying new local restaurants.

Talent Shortage

4 Reasons for Our Nation’s Talent Shortage

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Organizations worldwide are frustrated by the challenge of finding well-qualified talent, which makes the fight to hire a top candidate even tougher.

Manpower Group’s annual Talent Shortage Survey revealed that last year, 40% of employers worldwide reported difficulty filling jobs. It’s not just your HR department feeling the pain, either; according to a recent Deloitte survey, 33% of CFOs said that the current talent shortage remains the top barrier to business growth.

What has caused the talent shortage? Let’s look at four contributing factors within the manufacturing industry as a microcosm of what’s happening on the national scale.

  1. Low unemployment and a skills gap

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent unemployment rate was 4.1%. In general, such a low number is considered a good thing. The problem is that today’s employers are struggling to find the right people for their open positions: the qualified ones. Research conducted by Deloitte and the U.S. Council on Competitiveness indicate that manufacturing executives, for example, consider the “quality and availability of talent” to be the most critical part of competitiveness in their industry. Low unemployment means that employers have to work that much harder to find skilled candidates who currently aren’t working – or find competitive ways to convince employed individuals to make the switch to work with them.

  1. Business expanding post-recession

Just before and after the turn of the millennium, rapid growth of tech industries and offshoring labor led to industries like manufacturing taking a back seat in the national economy. Manufacturing jobs – and their accompanying skills and know-how – were displaced, outsourced and diminished in favor of such service sectors as financial services and health care.

Once the Great Recession hit, Americans rethought the idea of manufacturing. In a survey conducted annually between 2009 and 2014 with the Manufacturing Institute, Deloitte found that most Americans would choose to add 1,000 jobs in manufacturing centers. More jobs might have been created as a result, but the skills gap left hundreds of thousands of jobs unfilled – an estimated 600,000 in 2011 alone, for example.

  1. An improving economy

Historically, times of economic turmoil often are followed by bounce-back periods of growth. The current expansion post-Great Recession already has lasted 95 months, making it the third-longest in U.S history.

However, improvement can lead to fears of yet another “overheating,” sending the economy again into a recession-like period. As long as the economy expands, more jobs will be created, along with the need to fill them; the skills gap will counter naturally by holding back the right talent from taking those positions.

  1. Retiring baby boomers

Fresh talent coming through the American employment pipeline is considered weak compared to that of other nations, both developed and emerging. Research from the Program for International Student Assessment indicates that young Americans are behind on math, science and reading.

That’s a big problem. Deloitte estimates that 3.4 million manufacturing jobs will be open in the span between 2015 and 2025 – partly due to the 2.7 million baby boomers expected to retire during that time. Many of these positions are expected to remain unfilled due to the shortage of workers with the skills necessary to operate in the advanced manufacturing environment of the 21st century.

What we see in the manufacturing sector is happening in other industries as well, which illustrates several reasons companies are struggling to find and retain top talent. Are you curious about how you can help your organization buck the trend? Register and attend this webinar for a step-by-step strategy to combat the talent shortage.

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Posted in Blog, Featured, Millennials, Talent Acquisition

Braeden Fair

by Braeden Fair


Author Bio:

Braeden Fair produces webinars and podcasts for Paycom, in addition to writing content for the company’s blog and its employee culture magazine, Paycom Pulse. A graduate of Oklahoma Christian University, he managed social media for the college’s student life division and worked in the broadcasting departments of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas-based sports-talk radio station The Ticket.

Leading yourself

Leading Yourself: 7 Ways to Achieve Your 10-Year Goals

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Imagine you’re at dinner party 10 years from now in a lovely home, with dear friends you haven’t seen in ages. As you make your way around the party catching up on life, each person asks the same questions, wondering what is new with you, your family and your life.

Now let’s return to the present: What do you want those conversations to look like in 10 years? Who do you want to be? What do you hope to have accomplished?

When you’re able to answer these questions, you’re creating a vision for your future and taking the first step in your journey to self-leadership. The next step is deciding how you will achieve these goals.

Creating your blueprint

Start by looking at your current circumstances. Think about the different areas of your life that matter most to you and form goals based on them. Your goals may be professional, financial, mental, spiritual, physical or personal. Which parts of your life do you want to change? Which parts of your life would you like to stay the same? What kind of friend, sibling, parent or employee do you want to be?

By answering these questions, you form a blueprint for what you want to accomplish in the next decade, while also establishing smaller goals you can work on now to help you achieve that future vision.

A physical version of your blueprint, like a vision board, is a helpful way to display your goals and keep yourself accountable.

Leading yourself

With those established, you’re able to focus on what will put you in tune with becoming a leader and being successful. The smallest of details tend to go a long way. By following these seven guidelines, you’ll be able to develop yourself into an outstanding leader.

  1. Personal brand: Pay attention to your personal brand – that is, how you represent yourself through your clothes, body language and communication style.
  2. Intent: Be intentional about your health and happiness.
  3. Organization: Stay organized — whether at work or at home — by establishing routines and keeping an up-to-date calendar.
  4. Learning: Commit to learning something new every day.
  5. 1% more: Volunteer to work on projects others may not want to do, and always give 1% more than you think you can.
  6. Influence: Surround yourself with a solid circle of influence: people who lift you up to the highest self you’ve imagined.
  7. Grit: Exhibit the mental toughness to program your mind for success.

By focusing on these seven items, you’ll be better equipped to visualize what your life will be like a decade from now at that dinner party. Hopefully, your circumstances will equal your blueprint, and you’ll be your happiest, most exceptional self.

Additionally, once you have mastered how to lead yourself exceptionally well, you can lead others more effectively. The better you are at taking care of yourself — whether that be mentally, physically, personally or professionally — the more apt you are to make an impact on those around you.

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Posted in Blog, Featured, Leadership

Stacey Pezold

by Stacey Pezold


Author Bio:

Stacey Pezold serves as Paycom’s first Chief Learning Officer. Having joined the company in 2005, she worked her way up to such positions as Regional Manager, Director of Corporate Training, Executive Vice President of Operations and, most recently, Chief Operating Officer. A graduate of Oklahoma State University, she has more than 11 years of leadership and training experience.

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