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Important Employee Handbook Updates for 2022

Employee handbooks are a wonderful tool for employers and employees alike. They provide a game plan, or a one-stop shop for company policies and guidelines that takes the guesswork out of common issues and provides a way for managers to react to similar situations in similar ways, thus creating an air of fairness. But handbooks are tricky. There are a lot of do-it-yourself handbooks that get employers in trouble because they are written for the common denominator and not the uniqueness of the specific employer or its particular size. Also, handbooks need to be reviewed and revised as laws change.

In 2014, Governor Mark Dayton signed the Women’s Economic Security Act, a nine-part law, the purpose of which was to address those common barriers women experience in the workplace. Reiteration of those statutes became commonplace in employee handbooks.

This year, Governor Tim Walz signed into law certain expansions of the Women’s Economic Security Act. Under his expansions, which go into effect on January 1st, 2022 reasonable breaks specifically for the purpose of expressing breast milk–a right provided in the 2014 legislation–must now be paid breaks under the 2022 law.

In 2014, employers with 21 or more employees were required to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. As of January 1st, 2022, that will now be required of employers with 15 or more employees, bringing it in line with the ADA.

Employees will now become immediately eligible for pregnancy accommodations upon hire with an employer instead of having to wait a certain period of time. Employers should update their handbooks to address these expansions and also to use these changes as an opportunity to have their handbooks reviewed, to ensure compliance with all other current laws.

Employers should also make sure their supervisors are well aware of these new laws to make sure that the new policies are being applied appropriately. If you’re ready to take this step, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Sjoberg & Tebelius.