Last week, we discussed FMLA eligibility guidelines, and how important it is to keep managers in the loop regarding what qualifies as FMLA leave. This week, we’re talking about tips on improving your leave request intake process and best practices we’d recommend to improve communication and reduce your administrative burden. Often times it’s difficult for HR to keep track of who requested leave, when, and their leave details when you work for a mid-sized or large employer (or even small employers sometimes.) There’s a lot of disconnect that can happen during the leave request process, for both HR and the employee. What best describes your leave intake process? + I typically receive leave requests 30 days before the leave, or a few days before the initial leave date in urgent situations. + I typically receive notice that an employee is on leave after their leave has started. + I typically receive a notice that an employee is on leave well after their leave has begun. Or, in worst case scenarios, after the leave expired and they are still covered under our employee benefits or are still being paid. Details such as leave reason, leave effective date, and anticipated return to work date can have a big impact on how the leave is managed, so it’s important to have a streamlined leave intake process to make sure you can collect all the information you need, and make it easier for your employees. Here are some best practices we’ve found for increasing efficiency in the intake process: + Transition your leave intake process to a cloud portal so employees can request a leave of absence easily over the internet. + Give each employee a standard set of instructions on how to submit their leave request via the portal. Keep a copy of the instructions on your company intranet and bulletin boards. + Provide a standard set of questions for each leave of absence, including leave effective date, leave reason, anticipated return to work date, and any other information that HR will need. + Ensure that the employee's initial leave request information is documented for case history, even if the leave details have been updated during their leave. In a perfect world, we know that you’d like to receive notice of leave as soon as possible, and have all of the leave details at your fingertips. Fortunately, this is now possible with our new edition of the LeaveXpert Self Service Portal. Check out all of the details [here](http://optis.com/about-us/news/optis-releases-new-edition-leavexpert-self-service-portal).