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Optis Blog: Your Place to Find Our Bright Ideas

If you want to get a clearer idea of what Optis does, or if you're curious about our perspective on absence, risk, and data management, our blog is a great place to start. Feel free to leave comments or share our blog posts with any of your social connections.


 

Among the many challenges facing leave managers and human resource professionals, the No. 1 headache is dealing with the continuously evolving patchwork of laws around paid sick leave, according to a 2017 article by the Association of Corporate Counsel. An April 2018 article in Labor & Employment Law Perspectives summed up the situation nicely: “Paid Sick Leave Requirements Beginning to Resemble a Crazy Quilt of Legislation.”

The Association of Corporate Counsel advises that keeping up with recent developments is important to lowering the risk of missteps and potential litigation. It’s not an easy task. Just a few years ago, paid sick leave was a matter of employer choice. That all began to change when Connecticut became the first state to mandate paid leave for service workers in 2011.

Labor & Employment Law Perspectives has reported that as of July 1, 2018, nine states, the District of Columbia, and “multiple other jurisdictions” have enacted some form of paid sick leave requirements. The Association of Corporate Counsel says at least 33 counties and cities require employers doing business in their boundaries to offer paid sick leave.

  • States: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington
  • Larger jurisdictions: Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, and Philadelphia

In addition, federal Executive Order 13706 requires certain federal government contractors to provide paid sick leave to covered employees.

Yet, in an opposing trend, several states have prohibited local governments from enacting local paid sick leave requirements. Labor & Employment Law Perspectives reports that approximately 18 states have passed these types of paid leave preemption laws. Among them are Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Is your head spinning? If not, now consider the most common issues that a paid sick leave law or regulation will address:

  • Eligibility or restrictions on eligibility
  • Accrual rate and/or cap
  • Covered uses
  • Advance notice requirements
  • Ability to require documentation
  • Ability to require compliance with other call-in procedures
  • Annual usage or carryover requirements or limits
  • Requirements of rehire
  • Payout allowed or required
  • Retaliation or discipline prohibited
  • Tracking or notice requirements

To help deal with the headache of paid sick leave, an increasing number of companies are turning to automated leave management technology, such as Optis LeaveXpert and ADAInteract. Based on a survey last year of 1,203 employers by the not-for-profit Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC), employers overall reported that using automated  leave management and collaborating with a technology vendor improved their ability to stay apprised of changing regulations and requirements, particularly given today’s high level of leave legislation activity.

Still, managing intermittent leave — separate blocks of time taken for a single illness or injury — remains the most difficult FMLA activity to manage for employers of all sizes and industries, the survey showed.

The answer is a leave management system that offers FMLA compliance resources, return-to-work and accommodation tools, and reports on the direct and indirect costs of leave, all at a price that can fit into any budget or pass any purchase-approval process.

That solution is not pie in the sky. You can most likely afford to do leave management better, and here are three reasons why: 

  1. You can try an online, dedicated leave management solution for free and use it immediately. LeaveXpert Essential is available for 30 days with a free trial — with no automatic purchasing trigger that gets pulled after 30 days.
  2. You can choose to get more power for your leave management system if you need it — and only when you need it. With Optis LeaveXpert Essential, Plus, and Unlimited editions, you can get full insight into how leave is being used and managed in your organization immediately upon sign-up and know you can expand your system as your needs develop and as you feel comfortable moving forward.
  3. A leave management system provides benefits you can’t afford not to have. In the U.S. today, absence costs employers approximately $100 billion annually. Defending an employment lawsuit — including one resulting from alleged noncompliance with leave laws — can cost an employer up to $250,000 per incident. 

Optis’ cloud-based leave management system, LeaveXpert, helps organizations of all sizes see bottom-line business results through effective leave and absence management. Designed in three editions to meet any organization’s situation and needs, LeaveXpert is purpose-built for speedy implementation and access.
 

It’s probably no surprise that employers of all sizes and in any industry continue to grapple with the ongoing complexity and change around paid and unpaid leave for family and medical issues. So it only makes sense that employers are also increasingly turning to leave management tools, such as Optis LeaveXpert and ADAInteract, to help them administer leave programs and remain compliant.

Based on a survey last year of 1,203 employers by the not-for-profit Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC), more employers who manage leave internally are using technology to assist them. The survey found the trend is led by technology to support leave management related to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and state and local leave ordinances.

And though larger firms are more likely to use leave management technology rather than outsource the job, big companies are not alone in turning to software to solve their leave management challenges. DMEC found the following use of leave management technology based on company size:

  • Under 100 employees: 19 percent use vendor-provided leave management software
  • 100 to 999 employees: 29 percent
  • 1,000 to 4,999 employees: 31 percent
  • 5,000 to 19,999 employees: 38 percent
  • Over 20,000 employees: 50 percent

Employers also are moving toward integrating management of different leave types, “including sick leave taken prior to disability [leave] coming into play,” DMEC CEO Terri Rhodes said in a news release. Employers overall reported that vendors improved their ability to stay apprised of changing regulations and requirements, particularly given today’s high level of leave legislation activity.

The size of a company, meanwhile, makes a difference in what drives employer satisfaction with leave management technology and vendors:

  • Satisfaction is highest among the largest employers (for whom vendors play a key collaboration role).
  • Midsize companies appreciate having a variety of information intake options, including online portals.
  • Small employers value leave-related fraud identification and technology tools.

Optis is a leader among leave management vendors in recognizing and responding to the varying expectations and needs among companies of different sizes. It’s a key reason Optis offers three versions of LeaveXpert and three editions of ADAInteract (which can be purchased as a stand-alone solution or embedded in LeaveXpert). Optis makes it easy for anyone responsible for managing their company’s leave policies to find the right leave management system.

  • LeaveXpert Essential delivers all of the essential capabilities of a more robust leave management system, including federal and state FMLA regulations, automated alerts, correspondence, and task management.
     
  • LeaveXpert Plus offers flexible leave management at an administrator’s fingertips — with an employee self-service portal, company-configured leave types, and company-defined fields — at an affordable cost per user, per month.
     
  • LeaveXpert Unlimited is Optis’ total absence management system, designed to give large organizations with complex leave management needs everything they need, from integration of all leave types to increased data storage and other essential features.

ADAInteract, meanwhile, mitigates ADA compliance risk, helps eliminate employee grievances around leave policies and decisions, and empowers HR to make the necessary workplace changes to maximize employee productivity despite ADA-related leaves. Like LeaveXpert, ADAInteract is available in three versions, each with an increasing level of features and types of leave they help manage. 

Still, despite the increasing use of technology like LeaveXpert and ADAInteract to help manage leave complexities, the DMEC survey found that challenges continue to exist, particularly in managing intermittent leave and requirements under the ADA. Topping the list of headaches for leave managers are very real daily challenges like relying on managers and supervisors for leave enforcement — and even getting managers trained on these tasks in the first place.

The bottom line is that regardless of the size of your company, leave management by spreadsheet is quickly becoming an unsustainable practice. In addition to the headaches and time needed to do the job manually — either on paper or using Excel or similar software — manual leave management is nearly impossible to use for tracking and managing employee leave, staying current with changes in laws and requirements, and staying compliant.

An online leave management system can absolutely reduce leave abuse and noncompliance risk, and minimize costs.

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