Your employee handbook introduces your company culture and values. It also can create employee rights. Increasingly, it is a means to fulfill and clarify government imposed notice and other legal requirements. Thus a careful, updated, and accurate employee handbook is foundational for your company’s legal compliance and risk management. A new Virginia employment law effective last month should trigger fresh handbook and employment practices review.
Starting July 1, 2021, Virginia employers with more than five employees must include in their employee handbook information on reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. This new law prohibits employers from taking adverse actions against, denying employment or promotion opportunities, requiring unnecessary leave of absence, and failing to engage in good faith process with such employees. The primary exception is the employer demonstrating that accommodation would impose an undue hardship.
Employers must provide this information to new employees and to any employee within ten days of the employee’s disclosure of disability. In addition to handbook disclosure, a poster must be posted in a conspicuous location on the work premises. Companies are advised to use Virginia Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s (DLLR) poster or model after it their own, similar notice. View the DLLR issued poster here.
This law (Va. Code § 2.2-3905.1) expands the scope of the Virginia Human Rights Act (VHRA) prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability. This and a similar law passed July 1, 2020 for employee pregnancy accommodation (Va. Code § 2.2-3909) are examples of the growing number of required actions by employers triggered by specific events that occur during employment.
Employers should immediately follow compliance steps to adopt such policies and distribute this information to new hires. Gammon & Grange can help. Contact Derek Gaubatz, Scott Ward, or view our employment law page for more information.
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