In Massachusetts, an employee sued his former employer after he was fired for taking a vacation to Mexico while he was on a FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act), and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld a $1.3 million damage award.
In North Carolina, an employee took legal action against her former company after her employer failed to reinstate her upon return from FMLA leave to the same or equivalent position. She sued for $108,152 and won.
In Illinois, an employee brought a suit against his employer after he asked to take FMLA for PTSD symptoms. He had taken 304 days of his remaining 480 and was told not to take any more time by his employer. He, too, won his case over his employer.
It’s stories like these that keep HR teams up at night. Staying compliant with the leave process is key to keeping your HR team out of legal trouble. But it’s no secret that managing leave can get complicated. The problem is, leave laws are only getting increasingly complex. And with the rise of remote work, managing multiple state FMLA laws has made this task even more difficult. Technology can help your leave team ensure that each leave is taken in accordance with the law.
In this blog, we walk through tips that can help your leave process be more complaint through the use of in-house leave management technology.
1. Use data to ensure accurate eligibility
Several factors come into play when determining an employee’s eligibility for a leave of absence, including their total hours worked, length of service, and adherence to the FMLA 50/75 rule. Moreover, if your organization has its own leave policies, additional criteria may need to be considered. To accurately determine what an employee is entitled to, it is crucial to have ready access to the right data about each employee. One way to make sure you accurately determine eligibility every time is to keep all your relevant employee data in a centralized and easily accessible location.
In-house leave technology such as AbsenceSoft brings historical data about employees from your HRIS or payroll system and centralizes it all in one, secure place. The AbsenceSoft system then takes this data and automatically calculates exactly what entitlements an employee is eligible for. Your in-house team will now be able to calculate accurate eligibility within seconds. Knowing that their calculations will be accurate each time, keeping your team safe from any legal troubles.
2. Automate leave communications notifications
Effective communication is a key component is staying complaint in the leave process. Federal and state regulations have rules about when and what forms should be sent and complying with all of them is not always easy. You need to be sure that each employee receives the right information and that you document what you sent and when.
Let’s use a simple leave like FMLA as an example. When an eligible employee applies for FMLA the employer must:
- Provide employees with general notice about the FMLA
- Notify employees concerning their eligibility status and rights and responsibilities under the FMLA.
- Notify employees whether specific leave is designated as FMLA leave and the amount of time that will count against their FMLA leave entitlement.
The eligibility notice must be sent within five business days of the initial request for leave. If the employee is determined to not be eligible, you must tell them why.
Leave technology like AbsenceSoft will automatically notify the leave manager when each communication must be sent. It will also store all communications between the leave manager and employees, so in case you need to perform an audit, all information is easily accessible. Moreover, the system is updated automatically when federal and state laws change, so you know you are sending the most up-to-date forms and other required communications.
3. Manage your leave cases all in one place
With the eligibility requirements, communications, medical certifications, and more, each leave case has a lot to keep track of. Rather than jumping from system to system, AbsenceSoft’s in-house technology stores all your case information in one place.
This means you will have easy access to every case that has ever been created in the system. So, if for any reason you need to perform an audit, you have an audit trail ready to go.
4. Stay up to date with ever changing leave laws
If there is nothing in place to ensure that your team is staying up to date with ever-changing state leave laws, then you cannot ensure compliance. There are 130+ leave laws that change frequently. This could mean that entitlement requirements, communications, and return-to-work rules could be changing without much notice. If you have employees spread over many states, keeping up with each new state leave law, and ensuring that your employees are getting accurate entitlements, no matter where they live, can be challenging.
AbsenceSoft makes state and federal compliance easier and more straightforward. We have a fully dedicated, internal compliance team to ensure that all policies are updated in time for legislative changes. Rules are continuously updated to guarantee our clients are working with the latest legislation and best practices! This means that your team won’t need to be constantly researching new leave law changes, with AbsenceSoft, it’s automatically done for you. So, your team can rest assured that you are always compliant.
With so much to keep track of in the leave process, compliance can be at risk if the proper systems are not in place. With leave laws getting more and more complex, and organizations having more diverse and spread-out workforces, implementing a leave compliance process remains a priority for many companies. Having in-house leave technology in place ensures that your team still has ownership over the leave process while taking compliance risks out of their hands. This means that your team can spend less time worrying about compliance and more time ensuring employees have the support they need throughout their leave.
Our team of leave experts is here to help with any compliance questions you may have. To see our compliance engine in action, request an AbsenceSoft demo today!