Best Practices in Absence Management
The world of employee leave can be challenging. To create a successful program, employers must understand not only the applicable laws but also the business and operational impacts. Following are the top ten best practices cutting edge employers use to manage absenteeism and transform leave into an effective tool for recruiting and retention.
1. Encourage Sick Employees to Stay Home
Sick employees can infect others, leading to an increase in absenteeism, potential staffing shortfalls and higher use of leave overall as more and more employees are exposed and fall ill.
2. Treat Employees Consistently
Expect employees to follow established procedures for utilizing leave, especially intermittent leave. Act with compassion and humanity while handling leave requests and policy violations in a way that is consistent and fair towards all employees.
3. Keep Thorough Records
While remaining mindful of confidentiality requirements and any applicable privacy laws, be sure you thoroughly document leave requests, communications, and decision making, in addition to the amount of leave used and applicable dates.
4. Use Technology to Your Advantage
Using a technology solution can increase transparency in your leave administration, for you and for your employees. Features like dashboards and reports can reduce the headache of tracking leave – you can see at a glance how much leave an employee has taken and has available.
5. Have Strong Written Leave Policies
First, gather a list of all the potential sources of leave available to employees: federal, states, local, employer-provided etc. Next, think about how they fit together. Once you’ve written a policy you feel captures all the necessary information, consider having an expert, such as your legal counsel, review it.
6. Educate Employees
In addition to a comprehensive leave policy, consider what educational materials your employees and supervisors need. Have regular trainings, round tables and informal conversations about accessing leave with the goal of destigmatizing the use of leave and minimizing abuse.
7. Train Your Supervisors
Supervisors, managers, and others with oversight of employee absenteeism are your first line of defense against complaints, lawsuits and potential enforcement action. If not well-trained, they can also be your greatest weakness. Use case studies and clear examples to train supervisors to spot situations that could trigger Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or other protections and to timely report any potential issues to HR.
8. Get Help When You Need It
Even if an employee does not appear to qualify for paid or unpaid leave at first glance, consider whether other leave laws, disability protections, or collective bargaining rights might apply. Engaging professional help can bring clarity and prevent future claims.
9. Anticipate COVID Impacts
Your organization may or may not have voluntarily extended paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, or FFCRA, into 2021. Regardless, you should have a plan for employees impacted by the virus. Decide now if you will allow work from home or other flexible work arrangements, and clearly communicate your policies and procedures.
10. Look Beyond Leave
Examine your benefits offering as a whole and look for opportunities for innovation such as:
- Supplemental benefits
- Employee assistance plans
- Back-up child and elder care
- Discounts and subsidies for tutoring, concierge and virtual/digital self-service options
- Alternative schedules and flexible work hours
- Support for remote workers.
American Fidelity will continue to monitor and communicate regulatory changes to help employers succeed in benefits management. Subscribe for updates at americanfidelity.com/pfml.
This blog is up to date as of September 2021 and has not been updated for changes in the law, administration or current events.