In the first part of this blog series, we examined the importance of cloud-based leave management technology, how our parent company, Presagia, is managing the new leave legislation that has been enacted in response to COVID-19, and provided other useful resources for employers during this pandemic.
In the second part, we're taking a look at how you can build a solid foundation for your leave management technology, the importance of being consistent and having good communication, and form requirements for employers during COVID-19.
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 prepare 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 to Help 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: 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 blog posts related to the topic!
- 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.
- 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.
While this time is extremely stressful, it’s also crucial to be staying on top of leaves, with the right technology in place! We hope that with all this information, leave case managers feel supported.
Leave Genius 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.