HR Corner: Best Practices for Managing Leaves of Absence

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Empowering Your Employees and Your Business Through Benefits Education
May 20, 2024
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In today’s workplace, managing local, state, and federal leave laws and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can be daunting. This is especially true for employers who now have even more employees working remotely across the country. An increasing number of states have passed state-paid leave requirements, each with slightly different job protections, benefits, premiums, and duration.

Employers who offer comprehensive leave benefits foster loyalty and satisfaction among employees, leading to increased retention and productivity. Effective leave management promotes diversity and inclusion by accommodating employees' diverse needs and circumstances. Well-managed leaves ensure that business operations continue smoothly even in the absence of key personnel, mitigating disruptions.

Training Managers on the Americans with Disabilities Act 

The first step in ensuring leaves of absence are managed effectively is to train managers on the ADA, applicable leave laws, and how to handle sensitive situations to ensure compliance, consistency, and fairness. This includes understanding the interactive process for accommodations.

Employers must ensure they follow the protections offered by local, state, and federal guidelines. Essential protections include continuing group health benefits, ensuring managers do not inadvertently retaliate against an employee exercising their leave rights, providing intermittent leaves when required, and returning the employees to their original or equivalent position with the same pay and perks.

Develop Clear Policies and Procedures for Leaves of Absence

We recommend employers develop clear policies and procedures outlining the process for requesting leave, including accommodations under the ADA. Well-documented communications regarding these policies will provide resources and protection for the employer and the employees. Employers should maintain detailed records of leave requests, approvals, denials, and accommodation decisions. Documenting the interactive process with employees regarding accommodations is crucial for demonstrating compliance.

Compliance with the many facets of leave management can be complicated and challenging. Innovo Total HR Services are available to assist in policy development and when uncertainties arise.