Employee absence management can get really complicated really fast, even for small companies. The biggest challenges seem to be in the details of leave management, from the process of managing leave requests to essential FMLA and disability compliance. Here, we consider what the biggest challenges are and how both small and large organizations can overcome those challenges.
Common Leave Management Problems and Solutions
#1 Leave Management Through Word or Spreadsheets That Fail
A major concern for absence leave management is how to effectively manage all those requests. Often, administrators find that with spreadsheets or just plain Word documents, they can’t see who has earned leave and who hasn’t. Plus, there’s the headache of trying to see if someone else has requested the same time off. The problem comes in not being able to see the bigger picture of labor data combined with the hassle of paperwork. A lack of visibility into available resources and inconsistency in the process can also open up the company to complaints from employees that an administrator is being unfair or that taking leave is too complicated.
Approvers need a system that brings together requests, how much time an employee has available to request of, and the costs of that leave. Having a specific process in place will prevent miscommunication between employees and approvers. This starts with having specific leave policies in your employee manual and then following those policies.
The most innovative leave management systems out there will not only bring together all the data that approvers need, but it will also ensure policy compliance. Just inputting the policy into the system will let the software do some of the work in denying requests that do not comply with company policy.
#2 FMLA Compliance and Record Keeping
The Employer’s Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act (seen to the right) begins by explaining that “The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides eligible employees of covered employers with unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.” The law is meant to work “in support of the principle that no worker should have to choose between the job they need and the family they love,” but this becomes a real challenge for managers and administrators to balance because the rules are specific and complex.
HR has its own tips for overcoming the challenge of following the rules and tracking records accurately, including maintaining effective communication throughout the process, but the burden can also lessened by software that can automate FMLA processes with configurable rules, simplified approval workflows, and comprehensive reporting. In essence, a system that connects to automated time tracking software can assist with this complex process by maintaining the appropriate records for auditing and allowing managers to enter in hours that may not be taken at the same time.
#3 Employees Don't Know How Much Leave They Have
Many companies require their employees to email HR to find out how much leave they have, which makes HR responsible for not only keeping track of leave balances, but responding to each request. This also takes HR away from their other duties and keeps their inbox full of requests. In the end, the employee is also left waiting for a response from HR before they can book their travel, which costs real money and time for that employee.
Not having a place where employees can see their leave balances and submit requests can leave employees frustrated. Then, if employees are frustrated enough, they might not take the leave that they’ve earned, perhaps because they don’t even know that they’ve earned it.
Today, employees want their own self-service hub where they can easily see their leave balances and submit their requests. An all-in-one system lets employees stay on top of their leave balances and allows them to quickly and easily see whether their leave has been approved. Managers can also see what requests have been made and they can respond to requests more quickly.
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#4 Payroll Mistakes Between Paid and Unpaid Leave
Leave gets complex when some employees want to their Paid Time Off and others just want to take time off without leave. This is, of course, outside of the complexity inherent in the FMLA and can be a challenge for those administrators who are still using spreadsheets or doing requests by hand on paper.
The way to overcome payroll mistakes is to use software that tracks available leave balances and is flexible enough to allow you to input several kinds of leave. A system that automatically tracks whether an employee is taking paid or unpaid leave means that payroll errors are reduced and you’re not accidentally paying or not paying someone.
#5 Employee Abuse of FMLA & Paid/Unpaid Leave
While the FMLA provides help to millions of employees in achieving that healthy work-life balance, there are instances in which both the FMLA and regular leave policies are abused by employees who want more or less time off than has been earned.
Combating leave abuse
means communicating with
employees and building a
that makes employees
want to come to work.
The first line of defense is making sure that managers have a resource for what to do if they think that abuse is happening. This means having a policy in place for what happens if abuse is suspected and if abuse is proven. Some good advice is to establish procedures for employees to use if they need time off, from call-in procedures to how to request longer leave. The next step is to track all leave properly. Automated timekeeping software is useful for this and will reduce the administrative burden on HR and on managers.
In general, however, combating leave abuse might be just about staying in communication with employees and about building a workplace culture that makes employees want to come to work so that aren’t actively trying to avoid the job. From a stress-free workplace to providing reimbursements as a benefit to establishing policies that improve compliance, there are several steps that employers and managers can take that can go a long way in creating a positive workplace energy.
What To Look For In Leave Management Software Or A Leave Management System
The common thread between each of these problems seems to be time tracking software combined with absence management software. Here’s what makes for effective leave management software and capabilities you should look for when you’re researching your options:
- Transparency/ease of use
- Workflows and leave processes
- Reporting and analytics
- Tracking and law/FMLA compliance
- Company policy compliance and flexibility
These leave management software capabilities will set you up for success in the future, simplifying the complexity of absence management. Automated leave management solutions like DATABASICS will open up time in your workday so you can get back to your real job.
DATABASICS provides cloud-based, next generation Expense Reporting, P-Card Management, Timesheet Management, Leave Management, and Invoice Processing automation. Specializing in meeting the most rigorous requirements, DATABASICS offers the highest level of service to its customers around the world.
DATABASICS is relied upon by leading organizations representing all the major sectors of the global economy: financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, research, retail, engineering, nonprofits/NGOs, technology, federal contractors, and other sectors.