Keeping track of employee absences can be a lot of work for your HR team — whether you’re dealing with occasional absenteeism or a formal leave of absence request under federal or state leave laws. Outsourcing the work to absence management services or using a cloud-based LoA management platform can remove some of the hassle.
But what do absence management services do, and what types of leave are they able to handle? Let’s take a look at LoA management solutions and how they can help you streamline employee leave administration and workers’ compensation claims.
What Are Absence Management Services?
Absence management services are third-party companies that help you approve and manage employee leave requests and disability claims. Many of them offer absence management services from start to finish, which means they’ll handle inquiries from employees, assess eligibility, and ensure compliance with applicable leave laws.
Outsourcing HR functions can take some of the hassle out of absence management, but it can also be costly and introduce other complications. Another solution is to use absence management software, which allows you to keep your leave management operations in-house, but streamline it with cloud-based technology.
For example, Pulpstream facilitates LoA management, claims management, and the return to work process with a no-code, cloud-based platform. You can use a custom rules engine to automate the process and ensure compliance with state and federal leave laws like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Benefits of Absence Management Services
Absence management services can be especially helpful if you’re a growing company and your leave administration workload is more than your in-house team can handle. But even organizations with a large HR department may benefit from outsourcing or digitizing their leave of absence management system.
Here are three ways absence management services and software can help.
The main benefit is a reduced workload and administrative overhead. Instead of dealing with FMLA forms and other aspects of absence management, your HR team can focus on supporting your employees through their personal, medical, or military leave.
Digital leave management solutions also allow you to automate recurring or repetitive HR tasks and streamline workflows so they take less time and cost less money.
State and federal leave laws are complex, and your obligations may vary depending on which state you operate in and on the size of your company. Private companies with 50 or more employees are typically subject to FMLA, while those with 15 or more may be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Outsourcing your HR functions to an absence management service or using absence management software can significantly reduce compliance issues.
Streamlining absence management also makes it easier to track employee attendance and identify problems or trends in real-time. You can use this data to plan for upcoming absences, address frequent absenteeism, or anticipate the need for overtime.
At a larger scale, you can use attendance data for workforce analytics, which can help with succession planning and other long-term decision-making.
4 Types of Absence Management
The best absence management solution for you will depend on which types of absence you need to manage. Here are four of the most common types of leave:
1. FMLA Leave
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees with a qualifying family or medical condition. This includes:
- The birth or adoption of a child
- The injury or illness of a family member
- An employee’s own serious injury or illness
- Certain situations related to military service
Employees are entitled to return to the same position, and to maintain their health care while on leave. Since an employee may use FMLA leave intermittently, or for multiple conditions, it’s important to track FMLA leave accurately and maintain appropriate medical documentation to ensure they don’t exceed their leave entitlements.
2. ADA Leave
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodation” to employees with a qualifying disability. Since a leave of absence or reduced work schedule could be considered a reasonable accommodation, you may need to track ADA leave as part of your absence management process.
Your absence management service or software solution can help you determine if the ADA applies and navigate the ADA interactive process.
3. Disability Leave
Some states, including New York and California, require employers to have a short-term disability insurance policy, which provides temporary wage replacement if an employee has to take a leave of absence due to short-term disability. Some employers also offer long-term disability insurance as an employee benefit.
Since disability leave may overlap with other types of leave, and typically has a waiting or elimination period, you’ll need to track it in your leave management system.
4. Paid Family Leave
Some employees may be entitled to paid Paid Family Leave (PFL) or Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML). These programs offer wage replacement to employees while they’re on parental leave or another qualifying type of leave.
As with FMLA, employees typically need to put in a minimum number of hours before they’re eligible for paid family leave — just another reason why it’s important to track attendance and absences accurately in your leave management system.
What Does Absence Management Include?
Absence management services range from full HR outsourcing to custom software development and consultations. Here are three features you’ll want to look for:
Leave of Absence Approvals
One of the biggest challenges related to absence management is the LoA approval process. Each request needs to be checked for eligibility under company policy and applicable leave laws. Your HR team may need to review sensitive documentation related to the employee’s medical condition or disability.
When you use an absence management platform like Pulpstream, your employees will have access to an online portal where they can submit their own leave requests and upload supporting documentation. Your HR team can review leave requests, verify medical records, and track leave balances in a secure, cloud-based system.
Workers’ compensation claims and short-term disability claims follow a different set of rules and procedures. Pulpstream’s claims management platform allows you to handle all of your claims in one place, from warehouse claims to general liability.
You’ll be able to interact with insurance adjusters, generate OSHA reports, and track accommodations from both desktop and mobile devices. Plus, you’ll have access to claims analytics so you can monitor claims by time, month, age group, and more.
Return to Work Process
The Stay at Work/Return to Work process is a key part of any absence management system. This process enables ill or injured employees to stay in their job or return to work faster to support their physical recovery and financial wellbeing.
Of course, you’ll need to ensure that employees are fit to return to full duty or to a light-duty assignment if necessary. With Pulpstream, it’s easy to keep the lines of communication open with employees and their doctor by integrating all of your communication methods into one platform.
Improve the Employee Experience with Absence Management
Absence management isn’t just about cutting costs or ensuring HR compliance — it’s also about making life easier for your employees. When employees can submit their leave requests electronically and don’t have to stress out about medical paperwork, they’re less likely to make last-minute requests or take unplanned absences.
Outsourcing your absence management needs to a third-party can save your HR team time and energy — but it could cost you $400 or more per claim. Pulpstream’s no-code cloud-based platform does the work for you, with a built-in rules engine and automatic routing to get leave requests approved more efficiently and more accurately.
Contact the team today to request a free demo and be wowed in 30 minutes!