The start of the new year brought cold temperatures, the 2023 tax season, and a couple legislative updates at the federal and state levels. Part of the recently enacted Omnibus Spending Bill included a new act called the Pregnant Worker Fairness Act, which both imposes workplace standards for and prohibits discrimination against pregnant employees in the workforce. Meanwhile, the state of New Jersey passed multiple amendments to it's Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. Learn more about these updates below in this month's Regulatory Roundup.
Workplace Protections for Pregnant Employees
As part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (also known as the Omnibus Spending Bill) President Biden signed into law on December 29, 2022, several new requirements regarding workplace standards for pregnant employees will take effect in late June 2023. This Pregnant Workers Fairness Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to make reasonable workplace accommodations for known limitations stemming from pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.
Moreover, the bill also declares discrimination against pregnant employees requesting assistance unlawful, which includes:
- Failing to make the reasonable accommodation mentioned above, unless such accommodations would place an undue burden on the business' operations
- Requiring impacted employees to accept an accommodation other than any reasonable accommodation arrived at through an interactive process
- Denying employment opportunities based on the company's need to make reasonable accommodations to impacted employees
- Requiring impacted employees to take paid or unpaid leave if other reasonable accommodation can be provided
- Taking adverse actions regarding terms, conditions, or privileges of employment against an impacted employee requesting or using reasonable accommodations
Updates to New Jersey's WARN Act
Also known as the Millville Dallas Airmotive Plant Job Loss Notification Act, this law was originally signed by Governor Murphy in 2020 before being delayed by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Taking effect April 10, 2023, the law and amendments impose requirements regarding advanced notice of termination and implementation of severance pay.
Under the law, employers are required to provide 90 days notice of a workplace shut down or mass layoffs, and then provide covered employees with one week of severance pay for each year of their employment. Failure to provide notice will result in an additional four weeks of severance pay. Each employee's severance is calculated by using either the employee's average rate of regular pay for the prior three years or their final rate of regular pay, whichever is greater.
The new amendments expand upon the legislation by:
- Applying the legislation to employers with 100 or more employees nationwide if the employer has operated in New Jersey for more than three years
- No longer allowing employers to base their notice responsibilities on if 33% of the on-site workforce is terminated
- Eliminating the separate mass layoff test when terminating more than 500 employees
- Prohibiting the use of WARN waivers via a private agreement unless approved by the commissioner or a court of competent jurisdiction
Employees in New Jersey should monitor the state's Department of Labor and Workforce Development website for additional information and updates.
Get more details on the compliance updates from January here:
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This information is provided as a courtesy, may change, and is not intended as legal or tax guidance. Employers with questions or concerns outside the scope of a Payroll Service Provider are encouraged to seek the advice of a qualified CPA, Tax Attorney, or Advisor.