Tips for Modernizing Your Leave Management Strategy

July 3, 2024

Leave management encompasses so much more than the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Leave management is better defined as leave of absence management, which encompasses many types of employee leave.

That’s not to say this definition covers every reason for an employee’s absence. An employee who takes a week off to hike the Grand Canyon is taking paid time off, not a leave of absence. But an employee on extended maternity leave, sick leave, or caregiver leave would fall into the leave of absence category.

With so many types of leaves of absence, the modern leave landscape demands employers’ attention. Leave may have been an afterthought years ago, but the workplace is different now: job seekers and employees expect to have access to leave benefits. And they’re making time off requests in greater numbers than ever before, especially as state and local leave laws expand rapidly.

To keep up, it’s critical to modernize your leave management strategy. The following guide will give you a quick synopsis of what it takes to manage employee leave effectively and efficiently.

Why is having a modern leave management program important?

Employees are going to take leaves of absence — that’s a given. What remains to be seen is how their leave experiences play out.

When a leave experience goes poorly, the consequences can be catastrophic. An employee whose leave was denied incorrectly or administered improperly may have grounds for legal action. The ramifications aren’t limited to lawsuits, however. According to a recent AbsenceSoft report, motivation, loyalty, and retention all suffer when workers are dissatisfied with their leave experience.

This experience is, unfortunately, commonplace. AbsenceSoft data show that one in 10 respondents experienced one or more issues with their leave, from miscalculated pay, benefits problems, and even losing their job. One of the top drivers of poor leave experiences were confusing and unclear leave processes.

“It felt unfair that the pressure was on me to continue to return before my leave was officially over,” said one AbsenceSoft survey respondent. “I should not have been contacted as often as I was (or at all), while I was out.”

While poor leave experiences produce far-reaching consequences, positive leave experiences create big benefits. AbsenceSoft data show that when employee satisfaction with leave is strong, morale, productivity, and loyalty improve.

What creates a positive leave experience? Just as a messy and frustrating leave process drives poor experiences, a clear, supportive process leads to positive experiences. That’s why leave management is the most critical part of the process when it comes to leave administration.

Satisfied, productive, and loyal employees aren’t the only outcome of a modern leave program. When leave is managed well, businesses see lower costs. Leave teams endure less stress. And organizations see a reduced risk of legal action.

What are the current best practices for leave management?

A modern leave management system is supported by technology. With tools built specifically for leave, you say goodbye to manual leave management. Employees’ increasing leave requests won’t destroy your productivity or threaten your team with legal risk. Instead, you’ll offer employees a personalized, supportive leave experience from beginning to end.

Here are the hallmarks of a modernized approach to leave management, outfitted with purpose-built leave management software:

Make it easy to request a leave of absence

Employees may not know who to approach to ask about leave time. Leave platforms that offer a mobile-friendly employee portal make requesting a leave of absence easy and discreet.

Accurately calculate eligibility

Calculating leave eligibility is difficult at any organization. Large, complex employers in industries like higher education and healthcare face an even greater challenge. When leave managers must consider multiple calendars, locations, shifts, and job codes, eligibility is best left to software. Platforms like AbsenceSoft can calculate eligibility quickly and accurately, accounting for multiple nuances at once.

Automate the creation and sending of forms and communications

Leave managers can create, personalize, and dispatch leave communications in seconds with a modern leave platform. Platforms can also automatically generate forms and communications as part of a leave management workflows. This way employees will receive personalized documents with all the information they need, as soon as they need it, in a way that is more convenient for them.

Centralize medical certifications

Medical documentation is an important part of the leave certification process. A platform where employees can upload documents from their phones allows for quick turnarounds and secure storage, so leave managers can access important files as fast as possible.

Improve the accuracy of leave approval and denial

Properly approving or denying leave is the most important component of leave management. It’s also one of the most difficult and has the most dire consequences if not done correctly. Leave platforms supply managers with all the relevant information they need to make data-driven leave decisions that are accurate. This is often done by seamlessly integrating with an HRIS or other system of record for employees.

Automate the tracking of intermittent leave and reduced schedules

Did you know employees can take less than an hour of FMLA leave at a time? Intermittent leave and reduced schedules are complicated to manage because they disrupt established routines and expectations. They also require some employers to find replacement workers.

Employee portals allow workers to request intermittent leave as soon as they know they’ll need it — even if HR isn’t on the clock. Leave teams and managers get instant visibility into schedules and leave balances so they can begin finding replacement workers as soon as possible.

Build a return-to-work program

The leave management process doesn’t end with approving a worker’s time away. Leave teams must also track leave and prepare for an employee’s return to work, including certifying their fitness for duty, selecting a date for their return, sorting out any possible accommodations, and preparing their team for their arrival. Leave tools facilitate that process by creating an easy-to-follow timeline, automatically notifying managers and IT, and aligning logistics.

Train your HR team and frontline managers

Your HR department needs significant training to handle leave requests compliantly and compassionately. So do frontline managers, whom employees frequently approach with leave requests and questions.


Employers can’t expect to provide positive leave experiences without technology to support and enable the process, from beginning to end. To learn more about how AbsenceSoft can help you build a leave program that improves the way your HR team works and provides a great employee experience. Schedule a demo today.