Fielding employee leave requests, tracking Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave, and handling other scheduling tasks can put a lot of pressure on your HR team. Absence management software allows your human resources team to manage multiple types of absences all in one place.
Whether you’re dealing with an unexplained employee absence or an approved leave of absence, absence management software can help you stay on top of scheduling issues as they arise and meet your obligations under employment law.
Here’s what you need to know about absence management software, including what features to look for and how to integrate it into your existing workflows.
What Is Absence Management?
Absence management refers to the policies and procedures that your company uses to monitor and address both absences and absenteeism in the workplace. This might include written policies outlining your response to frequent episodes of tardiness, as well as HR software that you use to field leave of absence requests and track employees’ leave balances.
The goal of absence management is to adequately plan for employee absences and reduce absenteeism. Companies must be sure they are honoring their paid leave policies, as well as their obligations under employment law. For example, employees may be eligible for 12 weeks of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if they experience an illness or injury.
By setting clear time-off policies and using absence management software to manage time-off requests, your organization can reduce tardiness and absenteeism and plan ahead for approved employee absences like vacations and FMLA leave.
5 Key Features of Absence Management Software
Before deciding which absence management software to use, it’s important to ensure that it will have all of the functionality that you need. Many absence management tools are cloud-based and offer integrations with other workforce management tools, such as performance management software.
Ideally, your absence management software will have configurable modules that you can use to add and remove features.
Here are five key features to look for in an absence management system:
1. Calendar and scheduling tools
First, any absence management solution should have a team calendar that managers can use to view all of their team members’ leave requests in one place. This makes it easy to identify scheduling conflicts or overlapping leave requests.
Ideally, your employee scheduling software will allow employees to view each other’s work hours and approved absence requests. That way, they can work together to adjust deadlines and reschedule meetings as necessary.
However, specific leave details should be kept confidential, especially for leave types like sick leave or mental health leave, in order to protect each employee’s privacy.
2. Self-service tools
Self-service tools are an important feature of absence management systems. In short, this allows your employees to log into the system and initiate their own leave requests and track their leave balance.
They can also see whether a leave request has been approved or denied, or whether they need to submit more information. For example, employees requesting intermittent FMLA leave may need to upload a medical certification documenting their need for long-term leave.
The best leave management systems can send real-time notifications to employees throughout the leave approval process.
3. PTO balance calculations
Some absence types may be considered as paid time off (PTO) under your organization’s paid leave policy. Other absences may qualify as sick leave or personal time. Typically, this kind of leave is accrued based on the number of hours an employee has worked. In the old days, this had to be calculated by hand or tabulated on spreadsheets.
These days, your absence management software should do all of the work for you, calculating the accrual of paid leave using your timesheets or time-tracking software. Each team member’s current leave balance should always be visible in the employee self-service portal.
4. FMLA tracking
FMLA tracking is another important part of the HR management process. Since FMLA violations are serious and can result in lawsuits, it’s important to honor your employees’ leave entitlements and comply with your obligations under federal law.
Most employees are entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave per 12-month period, but they may qualify for intermittent leave or for multiple leave periods.
Your leave management software can help ensure that you’ve filled out the right FMLA forms for each leave type, and maintain a paper trail of each leave request.
5. Reporting capabilities
Finally, tracking absences using a central platform allows you to generate reports and assess absence trends across your team or organization. Absence reporting can help managers to identify patterns of tardiness or absenteeism in their department, and can help them put together a corrective action plan for repeatedly absent employees.
Whether you focus on absence tracking or attendance tracking, the best absence management software can help you stay one step ahead of the time clock.
Absence Management Software Best Practices
Absence management software can help you reduce your HR team’s workload and make the most of these employees’ time. By keeping track of all upcoming employee absences in one place, your organization will be able to plan ahead and reduce the impact of these absences on your operations.
Here are three best practices to keep things running smoothly:
1. Set clear expectations.
First, make sure that employees know what to expect by having clear policies on paid time off and other types of absences. Some companies promote “hyperflexibility” in the form of unlimited PTO policies, with the understanding that employees will ensure that they still get the job done. Other companies may have a strict “three strikes” policy for unexplained absences.
While having some flexibility for emergencies is important, setting clear expectations upfront, especially during the employee onboarding process, can reduce uncertainty around when it is and isn’t appropriate to request leave.
2. Digitize — and digitalize — everything.
Digitization refers to the process of scanning or otherwise converting analog documents into digital form, while digitalization means transforming an entire workflow or process so that it can be performed digitally.
The more you digitize and digitalize, the greater benefits you’ll get from your absence management software. You’ll have access to more data with which to generate reports, and you’ll have a digital paper trail documenting compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the FMLA.
Plus, with increased digitalization, employees and their managers will be able to access relevant data across more types of devices, and they can even use a mobile app to submit or approve leave requests.
3. Automate what you can.
Absence management software can further reduce the amount of time it takes for your HR team to field leave requests by automatically calculating leave balances and sending out real-time notifications whenever an employee makes a request.
Absence management tools can also continuously monitor for FMLA compliance, and they can notify your team as soon as they detect a violation.
While automation shouldn’t replace human insight and decision-making, it can reduce the amount of tasks that your HR team has to do manually.
Streamline Absence Management With Automation
Absence management software is designed to help your company monitor employee leave and address occasions when employees don’t show up to work.
The best absence management software will typically be configurable, with multiple modules that integrate into other types of workforce management software.
Pulpstream makes it easy to monitor absences with our no-code, cloud-based software. By automating repetitive tasks and digitizing your workflow, you’ll be able to reduce the time it takes to calculate accrued leave and approve or reject leave requests. You can set custom PTO policies, monitor ADA and FMLA compliance, and more.
Pulpstream can also streamline the return-to-work process so it’s easier for employees to return from long-term leave.
Request a demo today to learn more!