Did you know that on an average workday 20% of a company’s employees are on a leave of absence? Unlike paid time off (PTO), sick time, or vacation time, employees take leaves of absence to manage out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, such as caregiving, childbirth, injuries, or military leave. Federal and state laws often apply to this type of leave, making it more complex for HR professionals to manage than PTO.
What are the different types of leaves of absence?
As we mentioned above, people generally take leaves of absence when a major life event occurs. Different leave types can include:
- Family medical leave (FMLA)
- Parental leave
- Public health emergency leave
- Personal leave
- Political leave
- Jury duty or court witness leave
- Military service leave
- Domestic violence leave
- Veterans’ leave
- Blood, bone marrow, and organ donation leave
- Crime victims’ leave
- School activities or visitation leave
- Volunteer emergency responder or firefighter leave
- Legislative leave
- Public health emergency quarantine or isolation leave
Governing these types of leaves are 140 laws that are constantly changing in the United States. Keeping up with all the changes—especially with a remote, distributed workforce— can be a massive challenge for HR professionals. For example, employees based in New York will have very different leave entitlements than those in Oregon or Wisconsin. Companies can also have policies that offer leave benefits beyond FMLA as well.
For any given life event, an employee could be entitled to as many as three or four different types of leave. Once an employee makes a leave request, it is really important that the approval process takes into account all of the possible entitlements, and accurately calculates them.
However, 40.2% of employers surveyed by DMEC are still tracking and managing FMLA and other leaves manually. What does manual employee leave management look like? Often, it is a combination of post-it notes, calendar reminders, spreadsheets, and lots of open browser tabs. It takes up a lot of valuable HR time, and introduces the risk of an error that could lead to poor retention, employees not returning from leave, or even worse, a lawsuit.
According to DMEC, the average HR professional is managing 85.6 leaves each! That is a lot of employee time to track, especially without the benefit of leave management technology. When leave managers don’t have the time or tools they need to centrally manage leave requests, it can impact retention, employee experience, and much more.
For example, if an employee goes out on a longer leave, like maternity leave, it is hard to remember precisely when to remind them when to come back. Or, an employee could be taking intermittent leave—leave taken in shorter increments over a longer period of time. Leave tracking for intermittent leave is complex and time-consuming, and it is easy to lose track of what leave was taken and when.
Leave management software like AbsenceSoft was created by leave managers, for leave managers looking to solve these challenges. It is a cloud-based SaaS solution, meaning that any HR team member can log into the same centralized system from anywhere, at any time to manage a leave—even from a mobile device. It automates leave management tasks, like eligibility calculation, and more, to help improve accuracy and efficiency.
In the rest of this article, we’ll take a closer look at everything a cloud-based leave management system can do to improve your HR processes.
What is leave management software?
Leave management software is a scalable, easy-to-use, and configurable HR solution like AbsenceSoft that helps professionals manage FMLA, ADA, disability, and many other forms of leave easily and efficiently. Leave management software streamlines and automates the tasks involved with leave and accommodations processes, ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations, as well as company policies.
For in-depth details about how to improve FMLA administration with technology, check out our HR guide: Best Practices for Modern FMLA Management.
How does cloud-based leave management software work?
In one centralized, web-based system, leave management software helps HR professionals manage employee leave of absence requests. It consolidates FMLA legal requirements, state leave laws, and company-specific policies into one location. The system also automatically updates this data whenever leave laws change.
When an employee requests a leave of absence, the leave management system automatically takes all this data and compares it to the work and leave history of each employee. It performs an automatic calculation to see if they meet the eligibility requirements. By automating leave administration services, the system dramatically improves the speed and accuracy of the leave approval process for leave managers.
Leave management systems also offer employee self-service portals to make it easy to request a leave of absence from a computer, tablet, or mobile device. In four easy steps, an employee can request multiple types of leave, enter in requested dates, personal details, and more. They can log back in at any time to check the status of their leave. This saves a lot of time for leave managers, and ensures they have all the details they need to open a case.
Beyond just automating calculations and enabling self-service, leave management software provides a centralized system of record that captures every step of the leave management process. Leave managers can automatically generate and customize packets and other communications that include every form required. The system also enables leave managers to choose the way they send their communications according to employee preferences and legal requirements—including mail, fax, email, and text.
For more details about how leave management software works, check out AbsenceSoft’s leave of absence solution page.
What are the benefits of using a leave management solution for HR?
HR teams can realize numerous benefits from implementing a leave management solution. These benefits include:
- Time savings: By using leave management software, leave managers spend 66% less time on administrative tasks versus manual processes. An entire leave can be processed 10 times faster with a leave management solution.
- Litigation Avoidance: Leave management software normalizes and centralizes the leave management process, ensuring every employee is treated fairly. It also improves the accuracy of eligibility calculations, to reduce the chances of improperly denying a leave.
- Compliance: By creating a complete “paper trail” electronically, you have instant access to all the details you need to comply with audit requests.
- Improved Visibility: By centralizing all your leave cases into one system, you have complete visibility into every leave taken. The full HR team can see past and current leave cases, notes, forms, time taken, and much more. You can also run customized reports quickly and easily.
- Employee experience: Employee self-service portals provide an easy, stress-free way to request a leave of absence. When HR teams don’t have to spend as much time on administrative tasks, they can spend more time supporting and talking with employees, providing a better overall experience before, during, and after a leave of absence.
How does automated leave management software help your business?
Leave management software does more than just provide direct benefits to leave managers and HR teams. It also benefits the overall business in many ways, including:
- Cost savings: Leave management software enables HR to accomplish more with a lean team. In addition, accurate leave tracking helps HR and employees know exactly when they are expected to return to work.
- Employee satisfaction and retention: When HR can spend more time in conversation with employees, rather than sifting through files for forms and creating communications from scratch, the overall leave experience is improved. Employees who feel supported are much more likely to stay.
- Recruitment: Employers can easily offer and administer company-specific leave policies to attract and retain top talent.
- Improving Employee Return to Work: Automated reminders inside of the leave management system help ensure both HR and the employees out on leave know exactly when to return to work. Reminders can also notify managers and facilities personnel to ensure access is restored in a timely manner when an employee comes back from a leave of absence.
Leave management software like AbsenceSoft is quickly becoming a key tool for HR teams, enabling them to both improve efficiency and provide a better employee experience. When leaves of absences are managed well, the benefits are numerous for both HR and the business as a whole. To see leave management software in action, we invite you to schedule a demo of AbsenceSoft.