Whether you’re a specialized leave of absence (LOA) manager or an HR Generalist managing the various leave of absence requirements for your company, there are certain steps you can take to ensure that you’re effectively managing the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and state leave laws.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), some of the biggest challenges for leave of absence managers are interpreting the various levels of leave laws (i.e. federal and state), ensuring that their employees on leave are able to perform their essential job functions once they return to work, and a lack of staff resources to effectively manage absenteeism.
Though there are always going to be challenges involved in workforce management, especially when their are time-sensitive deadlines for compliance, such as with leave, there are steps you can take to ensure that you’re maximizing your compliance.
Create a Return-to-Work Program
Planning ahead of time and anticipating what may be needed at a later date, are crucial traits for a leave of absence manager. Knowing that employees will inevitably be out on leave at some point in their careers, it’s smart to take the time to ensure a smooth transition back into the workplace once their leave of absence is over. So take the time to create a Return to Work (RTW) Program to act as a roadmap for you for when an employee returns to work.
Then, when an employee goes on leave, be sure to communicate your program both at the start as well as the end of the leave. You need to educate them on what your RTW program looks like and consistently reinforce the steps they need to take. Fill them in on what items they need to provide to you, such as a doctor's note or medical release. Ensure that you are engaging with them along each step of the way in the return to work process. Remember, communication is absolutely essential in ensuring a successful leave management program!
One tool that can help you out with your RTW program is a Task Bank. This is a database of alternative job assignments that you can place an employee in should they not be able to return to their usual position. It's a great way to keep your employees engaged in the workplace while progressively returning them to their job.
For more information on what a Task Bank is, and how to create one of your own, please download our free whitepaper.
Glean Actionable Insights
If you aren't effectively tracking trends on leave usage, then you're missing out on valuable data! Knowing when employees are taking leave, if specific employees or business units are heavy users, identifying the days of the week when intermittent FMLA is more prevalent, and so forth, can help you be more proactive and intelligent in your approach to leave.
A software solution like Presagia Leave allows you to extract actionable insight into your leave management program, based on in-depth reporting and analytics. With Presagia, you can investigate trends in leave usage based on location, department, type of leave, and so forth.
All of this data is invaluable for ensuring the success of your program. So, stay ahead of issues like FMLA abuse, or inefficient usage of intermittent leave, by analyzing any patterns that start to arise in the way your employees are taking leave.
Attend Industry Events
One of the ways that we here at Presagia love to learn, is from others in the industry. That’s why we make a habit of attending many of the industry’s major trade shows and conferences each year.
Having the opportunity to listen to industry leaders speak, interact with other vendors and thought leaders, and attend workshops, are all crucial elements in staying informed about changes in leave management best-practices and laws.
Here are just a few of the major trade shows we plan on attending in 2018, and recommend you check out:
- Disability Management Absence Management Professionals (DMEC), FMLA/ADA Employer Compliance Conference, April 30th- May 3rd, 2018, Orlando FL
- Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) Annual Conference, June 17th- 20th, 2018, Chicago IL
- DMEC Annual Conference, August 6th-9th, 2018, Austin TX
Don't Try To Be A Legal Expert
Trying to be an expert in the various levels of leave legislation, without a legal background, can be an incredibly stressful burden. It’s also likely that you’re not doing the best job at meeting the legal requirements, since you probably wear multiple HR hats that keep you rushing from one thing to the next.
Take a load off and talk a law firm or your legal counsel, and consider adopting a leave management solution. Presagia Leave is backed by the power of our Absence Compliance Engine, which is continuously updated with changes to federal and state leave laws. We take care of this for you, so you can spend less time with your nose in the books, and more time with your employees.
These are just a few tips to help you manage leave like a boss. Ultimately, you want to ensure that you’re remaining compliant with the FMLA, and that you’re treating your employees in a way that is fair and equitable.
Are you still having trouble managing leave and looking for more advice? We’re here to help.
Founded in 1987, Presagia has a long history of helping organizations solve complex business problems with easy-to-use solutions. Today, this means providing cloud-based absence management solutions that enable organizations to be more efficient, control lost time and risk, and strengthen compliance with federal, state and municipal leave and accommodation laws.