How To Manage Leave During COVID-19 | Part 2
In part one of this blog series we discussed the need for cloud-based leave management technology as well as the many leave policy updates Presagia has made to keep our clients compliant with the latest leave regulations. This included the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), Oregon Family Leave Act, New York Paid Family Leave, New York Sick Leave, and Presagia’s own General Pandemic Leave Policy.
Now, in part two we explore the importance of laying a solid foundation for your absence management technology, being consistent with your employees, the importance of communication, what you need to know about forms for managing leave during COVID-19 and additional resources to help you manage leave during this time.
Build a Solid Foundation for Leave Management Technology
While the current situation may supercharge your search for leave management technology to help you manage the influx of COVID-19 related leaves and more, you’ll want to properly lay the groundwork before you begin your search. Here are some helpful tips to consider for laying the proper foundation before you search for new leave management technology:
- You’ll want to gather as much information as you can by assessing the current state of your program. Review the processes, policies and people involved (i.e. case managers, legal counsel, and executive leadership).
- After figuring out where you are, determine where you would like to go. Work with stakeholders involved to determine requirements and look at the bigger picture.
- Take inventory of the gaps of your current state to your future model. This will allow you to figure out what you actually need versus “what you like to have.”
- Consider other factors such as timeline, budget, purchasing power and whether you would like to insource or outsource your leave management. Industries like healthcare and education tend to prefer insourcing their leave management since it gives them a full picture of their employees. They can also respond quickly and accurately to questions from their employees, building positive and trustworthy relationships.
Once you have a solid foundation in place and know what type of leave management system you’re looking for, it’s important to be consistent with your employees.
Ensure Consistency Across the Board
Technology can assist with building not only a strong leave management program, but also a consistent one that complies with laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Being consistent means that you treat each employee fairly, giving them the same treatment across the board. When you do this, you avoid compliance risks and stay out of hot water. This is another place where technology can help, as it enforces standardized leave processes.
Technology also helps by providing automation which reminds leave case managers when to send notices (the system should offer templates to help with this) and receive medical certifications (i.e. if an employee has COVID-19 and needs a doctor’s note). Technology should create automated reminders for all other steps in the leave process as well, to keep cases on track. Automated alerts should also be available to let leave case managers know when issues are arising, like entitlement exhaustion and intermittent FMLA abuse, ensuring no one falls through the cracks and all employees receive their fair share of leave.
Communication is Key
Having an engaged workforce is especially crucial when they are remote or on leave, and may need extra guidance. Correspondence templates can help ensure that an employee on leave receives the correct information, delivered on an appropriate timeline. Leave managers should keep in mind when communicating with an employee on leave that having reasonable and regular communication about how the employee is doing and their status is best practice, especially during this unstable time. Having open communication is key to ensure that your employee returns to work happy, healthy and in a good head space.
As we all know, forms required for the FMLA can be confusing, including when to use them and exactly how they’re implemented. With the latest leave laws related to COVID-19, there’s even more uncertainty around forms. That’s why we’re going to keep this simple for you. While the Department of Labor (DOL) hasn’t provided model forms for leaves related to the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), employers are still obligated to collect certain information when an employee requests a leave under this policy (employers eligible for these leaves also require documentation in order to claim tax credit under the FFCRA):
- Name of the employee requesting leave.
- Dates that are being requested for leave.
- Reason for leave.
- Statement from the employee saying that they are unable to work because of the reason.
You should also document the following if the employee is requesting leave to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed/childcare provider is unavailable.
- Name of child employee is caring for.
- Name of school, place of care that is closed or child care provider that’s unavailable.
- Statement from employee saying that no one else would be suitable to care for child.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial to utilize secure technology that enables you to centralize and store all of this leave information.
Other Resources for Employers
Things are changing rapidly everyday, and this is especially true for leave laws. While your leave case management system should be up-to-date on the changes made to existing leave laws and new leave laws going into effect, it’s important as a leave case manager to also stay in the loop about proposed and upcoming changes to the leave law landscape.
Here are a few resources we think are helpful for you stay in the know:
- Presagia’s COVID-19 Best Practice Guide: we’re providing you with a “one-stop shop” for all things related to COVID-19, including a brief summary about all the laws related to the pandemic, changes made to the law, and our blog posts related to the topic!
- FMLA Insights by Jeff Nowak: this blog provides insights for employers on topics such as the proper documentation to take leave and implementing the new emergency paid sick and paid FMLA leave. He dives deep into these topics and tries to explain them so everyone can have a firm understanding.
- DOL: this is a great resource for employers and employees on the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act where they offer answers to questions you may have.
While this time is stressful for everyone, we hope that by providing more guidance for leave case managers, you’re able to better manage your leave cases and feel supported.
Presagia is closely monitoring the legal and business landscape to ensure the highest state of readiness to respond to any legislation changes enacted or other proposals now and on the horizon.
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.