A geographically dispersed workforce is a reality for a large number of employers today and with it comes a host of challenges when managing leave. Compliance and consistency are just some of the elements you need to navigate through in order to abide by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), state and municipal leave laws, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This is inevitably a lot to manage alone, which is why having some tips and strategies can make all the difference.
Stick with us, as we take you through our roadmap for effectively managing leave across multiple states.
Step 1: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
None of us have all of the answers, especially when you consider that there are more than 450 pieces of legislation that dictate when and how employees can take time off.
There’s always the option of using either internal or external legal counsel to assist with the intricacies of each state’s leave laws, but this usually means that costs ramp up quickly and requires you to find a law firm with sufficient expertise in the management of employment law across all US jurisdictions.
You also have the option of relying on online research, which means you must interpret the requirements on your own, as well as have a way of tracking court decisions and evaluating their impact. You’ll then have to determine how to effectively meet all notice requirements, while communicating in a fair and consistent manner.
Sounds complicated? That’s where a technology solution like Presagia Leave can make all the difference. The system is continuously updated with the latest leave laws, while providing automation and workflow guidance for you. Best practice guidelines allow you to focus on more complex cases and automatic tracking supports your efforts to consistently meet leave law requirements.
Still unsure about making the switch to a leave management solution? Here’s some food for thought.
Step 2: Do Your Reading
Just like in school, you need to do your homework and be aware of what is required for compliance. Consume as much information as you can, validate the requirements for compliance, talk to industry experts, review trusted sources and consult counsel (if necessary) to stay up to date on the ever changing leave law landscape. It will help you in terms of understanding the overlay of leave laws at different levels and in different states.
Not sure where to start? Subscribe to blogs and newsletters, especially those from employment law firms and supporting groups. Attend industry conferences and get involved with organizations such as DMEC, and SHRM. You can count on these resources in helping you stay up to date on all things compliance. Ultimately, you want to develop a strong knowledge based on your federal, state and municipal compliance obligations.
Step 3: Make Compliance a Central Focus of Your Organization
Embedding fairness, communication and consistency in your leave programs will enhance employee morale, reduce risks of litigation and increase the general sense of fairness within the organization. As in any good program, education of stakeholders and participants is key - the more aware and informed stakeholders are of the benefits and consequences, the less likely employees are to feel mistreated.
A good first step is to make a list of all states in which you operate. You may also want to add a list of all the cities in which you operate, as sometimes there are municipal laws that provide additional leave benefits. From there, you have a bird’s eye view of the leave laws you need to account for and how to mitigate the risk of making a mistake along the way.
Focus on the things you need to comply with in the varous pieces of legislation, then evaluate your own policies to ensure that they are consistent with these laws. From there you can work on consolidating your programs and reducing complexity across the jurisdictions within which you operate.
Step 4: Be Strategic
Now that you’ve listed all the locations which you operate in, it’s time to be strategic in how you actually manage leave as leave laws can change greatly depending on the state or municipality.
Consider your workflow, record keeping process, auditing, and remediation programs in place and then compare their effectiveness by considering what the outcomes would be if you were to be scrutinized by state or federal representatives. Seek help from qualified employment law consultants, counsel, and peers. Always work on consolidating your programs and reducing complexity across the jurisdictions within which you operate to simplify the work required by your team.
Take some time to meet with your team and decide how best to ensure a clear understanding of the goals and the means to achieve them so that you can build a cohesive structure for managing leave across multiple states.
Step 5: Integrate Clear Communications into Your Strategy
Once you’ve decided on your strategy, it’s time to communicate it to your organization. Remember, many statutory leave laws have specific notice and posting requirements, and not meeting these means you are in violation. Communication is absolutely crucial to remaining compliant and ensuring that all information is transmitted to stakeholders.
Additionally, ensure your front line managers are trained to know how and when to respond appropriately to an employee's request for leave. No matter what your strategy is, make sure that you have the correct worksite postings, employee handbook sections, and adhere to the employee notifications required to process each leave case.
So there you have it! A 5-step roadmap on how to manage leave across multiple states.
What is your current absence management process? Have any other tips for multi-state employers?
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.