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5 Tips for Parental Leave Policies That Minimize Risk

Laurie Berke-Weiss and Alex Berke were quoted in this Law360 article about minimizing legal risk for employers around parental leave issues.

One of the five tips was to make the process interactive, but confidential:

"Laurie Berke-Weiss and Alex Berke of Berke-Weiss Law PLLC, a New York firm that represents employers and workers and that offers training classes to women and families about their workplace rights, said that one of the most important measures an employer can take is to engage directly with employees about the logistics of their leave and about any requests for reasonable accommodations.

'They should be engaging in the interactive process with their employees, and they often don’t,' Berke-Weiss said. 'These conversations are always hard unless the employer has signaled very clearly that they’re really open to having the conversation ... and that they’re going to accommodate the employee and welcome them back.'

The process may, for example, include a discussion about whether a new mother will be nursing upon her return, which will prevent the business from having to scramble at the last minute to provide an appropriate space, Berke said.

But while engagement is important, Berke-Weiss noted that employers must also be sure that conversations about accommodations are kept private.

'It should be a confidential process between the employee and the employer,' Berke-Weiss said.

Some employees are scared to disclose their pregnancies at work at all, because their employers have been too open when discussing personal details of other employees' pregnancies, Berke said.

'It's not just reasonable accommodations that employers should not be discussing openly,' Berke said."