Our country’s workforce has changed significantly over the last few decades. Dual-earner households have been trending upward, and the majority of mothers with young children are now in the labor force. Some fear that this represents a shift toward an increasingly untenable work-life balance for parents who must choose between their livelihoods and being physically present for their kids or family members in need. Given that the U.S. is the only industrialized country without a national paid leave mandate, it falls to employers to help their people raise families while sustaining a profitable business.
Currently, the 1993 federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offers 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for newborns or seriously ill family members for employees who have worked at least a year for a larger employer (50 or more employees). While these protections cover 60% of the workforce, evidence suggests that many eligible employees do not take leave when they need it because they cannot afford to. More than half of respondents in a 2018 survey said unpaid leave for family or medical reasons would mean serious financial hardship, according to Voters’ Views on Paid Family + Medical Leave commissioned by the National Partnership for Women and Families.
Fortunately, over the last 13 years paid family leave policies has increased in adoption and generosity to meet corporate culture and social responsibility demands. Since 2010, paid family leave benefits have increased by 6% in private industry, 8% for government workers, and 6% for civilian workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics National Compensation Survey. And the variety of paid leave programs, such as parental leave, continues to expand, creating more access for employees – but also more complexity for businesses.
Being family friendly can do wonders for employee retention and recruiting, and few benefits can help employers build their reputation better than a paid family and medical leave program. In fact, employees today are expecting, and demanding, paid leave programs that go beyond the status quo. In the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) report, 2018 Employee Benefits, 92% of employees reported that paid leave is important to their overall job satisfaction, but in organizations that already offered paid leave, only 73% of employees reported being satisfied with the program. Employers who don’t offer the right paid leave program are at risk of losing the war for talent.
Due to the highly regulated nature of statutory leave programs, the complexity and burden on employers to properly track, maintain, and comply with legal requirements are substantial. However, leave administration technology can help employers build a program that will help them comply with various state and federal laws and reduce their administrative burden.
The burden falls to both employees and employers.
In fact, the most burdensome leave challenges, according to a 2018 SHRM report, Employers Use Technology and Outsourcing to Ease Leave Management, include relying on managers to enforce leave policies and training supervisors and managers on FMLA.
Employers that self-administer leaves often have complex and numerous spreadsheets, flowcharts, and checklists to help them with the process. This process may have lower hard costs, but it can be extremely time-consuming and prone to human error.
Many employers know they want to outsource to a leave solution, but aren’t sure what would best meet their needs. There are multiple paths an employer can take when they want to outsource leave management. Perhaps the most common type of leave solution is one provided by insurance carriers; some carriers administer leaves in house, while others have created partnerships with third-party vendors. But there are other leave administration solutions emerging in the market, which range from simple tracking templates to full leave administration outsourcing.
Shannon works with clients to streamline their HR business processes with technology solutions.
As a technology consultant, Shannon works with clients to streamline their HR business processes with technology solutions. She provides guidance as clients evaluate their current state, needs, and processes, and then connects them with appropriate vendors to meet their needs. Her specialty is technology implementation projects with a focus on organizational change management. Her knowledge, professionalism and willingness to help both internal teams and our clients have earned her high recognition with clients.
On May 11, 2014, the governor of Minnesota signed the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA), a bill that will require Minnesota employers to make dramatic changes to their employment policies and practices.
While WESA directly impacts employers who conduct business in Minnesota, the changes follow plans by federal and local governments to expand legal protections for women and other employees. For this reason, employers in other jurisdictions should pay close attention to these national and state law trends.
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is more than 20 years old, yet employers have many questions on how the law applies to their workforce. Unfortunately, mistakes in the application can have significant business and legal consequences.
Making FMLA mistakes can be costly, and many employers make mistakes they don’t even know they are making. Let’s take a look at five common leave-of-absence mistakes based on our experience with real clients from our HR Hotline.
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