The new guidance includes broad advice for employers, including increased awareness of legal obligations relating to caregivers, and maintenance of a strong EEO policy. Generally (and this is probably stating the obvious), do not make assumptions about employees based on gender roles and obligations to care for kids. One footnote provides a glaring example of misconduct where
"[D]efendant terminated plaintiff because 'she was no longer dependable since she had delivered a child . . . babies get sick sometimes and [plaintiff] would have to miss work to care for her child . . . [Defendant] needed someone more dependable'."Bailey v. Scott-Gallaher, Inc. 480 S.E.2d 502, 503(Va. 1997). The guidance also addresses pregnancy issues, including the employers' duty to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant women.
The guidance provides a particularly interesting section on flexible work arrangements. Recommendations include "General Flexible Options":
- "Flextime Programs. Flextime policies generally permit employees to vary their work day start and stop times within a certain range, such as allowing an employee to arrive at work at any time between 8:00 and 9:30 a.m. and then work for 8 hours."
- "Flexible Week Opportunities. Flexible week opportunities may include compressed work weeks, such as a workweek consisting of four ten-hour work days."
- "Telecommuting, Work-at-Home, or Flexplace Programs. These options enable employees to work from home or alternate office locations."
The guidance also details part-time options, such as job sharing or reduced hours.
In the closing paragraph, the EEOC states that the policies may, "benefit all workers, regardless of caregiver-status." And it's not just the employees, but the employers as well. In advocating the flexible work options, the EEOC relied on studies showing that flexible work policies "have a positive impact on employee engagement and organizational productivity and profitability."
For that reason, the new document is more than just guidance on caregiver issues, it's a source for flexible work options that could benefit everyone.