- Companies are making leave management a greater priority than ever before, according to the fourth-biennial Guardian Absence Management Activity Index and Study.
- The study uses an index "that reflects the level of employer activity on ten elements of an absence management program," according to a news release. This year, the average index score for all surveyed employers increased 14% from two years ago and is up 35% from 2012. Also, a larger proportion — almost half of employers — gained either "Advanced" or "Leader" ranking based on how they scored on the index. Just 22% did so in 2014.
- Nearly twice as many companies said their senior leadership highly prioritizes leave management and absenteeism reduction, as compared with 2014. The study also found employers are working to design their absence plans and policies with an eye to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and statutory disability, workers' compensation and leave laws.
Mastering leave management is a necessary challenge. The overlapping (and ever-increasing) patchwork of state and federal mandates make it an area of particular concern for employers, many of whom outsource the work to help lighten their burden and tap into greater expertise. About half of large employers and about one-third of small employers outsource their FMLA management, according to a survey conducted by the Disability Management Employer Coalition.
Despite outside help, leave management is still a struggle for employers: A recent survey concluded that about 60% of employers earned a grade of C, D or F at managing employee absence and disability in the workplace. The Standard's Absence and Disability Readiness Index said the low grades were due to employers' falling short in both their approaches to managing absence and disability and their self-confidence about their practices. Some employers have turned to technology solutions, such as a leave management software system, to improve practices.
In addition to getting an effective leave tracking system in place, it's helpful from a compliance standpoint to train managers about leave law basics, so they know when to bring HR into a given leave situation. A designated point person also helps ensure that all paperwork and recordkeeping is complete and correct.