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Technology Increasingly Easing the Burden of Leave Management

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.