Tuesday, December 4, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: State halts new maternity leave regulations

So I've been saying for the past few months that once the OCRC adopted its new maternity leave regulations, passage by the legislative Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review would be a mere formality. Boy do I have egg on my face.

In a 9-1 vote, the JCARR sent the new regulations back to the OCRC for a more complete fiscal analysis. The Committee was unhappy that the OCRC said there would be no fiscal impact on school districts or local governments from the rule change. Today's Plain Dealer quotes State Senator and JCARR member Tom Niehaus, who cited as an example a small township police department that would be forced to cover shifts for a pregnant employee and pay overtime costs. Sen. Niehaus also expressed concern as to whether the OCRC has the authority to enact these regulations, although the Committee as a whole sidestepped that issue. The OCRC must now wait at least 90 days before returning with an updated application for the rule change. One now has to question whether the JCARR will ever approve the new regulations.

The bottom line for employers is that for now the old rule remains, that women must given a "reasonable" amount of time off work for maternity leave. I caution, however, that courts that have looked at the current 4112-05-5(G) have interpreted 12 weeks as "reasonable" because it is what the FMLA provides.

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