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October 15, 2021 | Time and Attendance | Posted by Ascentis Thought Leadership

Leave Management: A Guide to Improve Employee Leave Management

There are countless reasons why an employee may need to request time off. Maybe it’s for a holiday, a vacation, or perhaps they’re sick. Every employee deserves to have sufficient time off from work for various situations, but managing this time-off isn’t always so easy for the business’s side.

For the employee, they simply just have to request the time off for a valid reason. But for the HR department, managing employees’ time off is not nearly as straightforward.

Leave management is a lot more than simply approving time-off requests. In an increasingly complicated work environment where HR managers are balancing the needs of full-time employees, contingent workers, short-term contractors, and others, staying on top of your workforce’s leave management needs require some genuine planning.

In this blog post, we will be discussing what leave management is, how you can improve your business’s leave management process, the benefits of using a leave management system, and more. Continue reading, or use the links below to jump to a section of your choice, so you can learn how to improve employee leave management for your business.

First and foremost: Let’s take a look at some of the key considerations employers should take into account when mapping out an annual leave strategy.

What is leave management?

Leave management, otherwise known as time-off management, is the process of managing employees’ time-off requests. This includes situations such as holidays, sick leave, vacation, parental leave, and emergencies. All of these time-off requests must go through a series of policies and rules that are specific to your business before they can be accepted.

Time and leave management is important for many reasons. First off, it’s the law. You are legally obligated to keep track of leave so that you can pay your employees correctly. Additionally, having leave policies is essential to the well-being of your employees, as it gives them the opportunity to explore non-job-related interests, relax, or spend time with family. In fact, a Gallup study found that 23% of employees feel burned out at work very often or always, while an additional 44% of employees reported feeling burned out sometimes. With proper leave management, you can give your employees the time they need to rest and recharge.

If your company doesn’t have a proper leave management process, this can also lead to missed deadlines and targets. If an employee doesn't let HR know they won’t be in at work one day and they’re the only one who could operate a crawler crane, for example, that can delay an entire construction project and end up costing you even more money. This is why time and leave management is so important.

Leave management is especially important in the case when an employee is requesting a large amount of time off from work. Employees need a way to plan for their leaves in advance and accommodate their work situation. Without leave management, employees would just stop showing up to work without letting anyone know. Just imagine how much chaos that would cause for the business.

In order to streamline leave management, it’s helpful to use a leave management system. A leave management system will automate the leave request process, making it simpler for both the HR department and the employees. If you’re struggling with how to track employee hours, a leave management system can also help with time-tracking, so you can pay your employees accurately and on time.

How to improve employee leave management

Improving employee leave management is crucial for both the employees and the company as a whole. A good leave management process increases employee satisfaction and retention, ensures compliance with labor laws, reduces the number of management mistakes, and creates policy consistency throughout the whole company.

If you’re looking for a way to improve employee leave management for your business, check out our helpful tips below:

1. Understand the different types of employee leave

The first step in improving employee leave management for your business is understanding that there are different types of leaves that employees can take.

Annual leave is the first thing that comes to mind for many people when discussing employee leave. Annual leave generally means paid time off (PTO) that is part of an employee’s contract. Paid time off is often included as part of a benefits package that can be used to attract quality talent to an employer. Considering that a majority of workers say that a robust benefits package including paid leave is a bigger incentive than higher pay, establishing a strong leave policy can be a great help in reducing turnover and bringing in high-quality new hires.

The amount of annual paid or unpaid leave allotted to full-time employees varies depending on the employer and the type of employment, but this differs for other types of workers.

For instance, part-time workers, contingent labor, and freelance employees usually do not receive any employer-provided time off. The amount of employee leave may depend on the specific circumstances: many companies provide longer stretches of time off for maternity leave, for example.

Some common types of paid or unpaid employee leave include:

  1. Vacation time
  2. Sick leave
  3. Public holidays
  4. Maternity, paternity, and adoption leave
  5. Bereavement leave
  6. Leave for voting or jury duty
  7. Leave for active-duty military members and their families
  8. Certain religious observances

These are just some of the many different types of leave that employees can take. For employees who do not receive any employer-provided time off, having a good leave management system is even more important so that you can keep track of when your employees are and aren’t working.

2. Create consistent leave policies

The second step in improving employee leave management is creating consistent leave policies. This ensures that all employees are on the same page about taking time off, and everyone is aware of the company’s policies.

In the U.S., employers are generally allowed to establish and enforce their own leave policies rather than follow particular laws or guidelines (with a few notable exceptions). That makes it all the more important to establish a leave policy that is generous, easy to understand, and consistent for all impacted employees. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 66% of wage and salary employees had access to paid leave at their jobs, showing how common it is for employers to provide some form of paid leave for their employees.

Leave policies should be clearly laid out in your employee handbook, which should, in turn, be required reading for all new hires. Policies need to be communicated clearly to both managers and employees, including any updates or changes to established policy. Be sure to specify differences in leave policies for full-time employees and contingent workers to avoid potential confusion.

If you have contingent workers or part-time employees in your company, you should also know how to track employee attendance, which can be done using time-tracking software. Tracking your employees’ attendance ensures fair and accurate payroll and reduces the risk of time fraud. There are countless benefits of time and attendance systems, such as better time management, decreased absenteeism, improved employee satisfaction, and more. Time-tracking software is something every business should use in order to maximize efficiency throughout the office and ensure accurate payroll for every employee.

3. Keep a close watch on compliance

While leave policies in the U.S. are not nearly as tightly regulated as they are in Europe, there are still a number of compliance considerations to keep in mind. The most visible example is probably the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide workers with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave under certain qualifying conditions, including:

  1. An employee’s serious illness or health condition
  2. A family member’s serious illness or health condition
  3. Birth, adoption, or foster care of a child
  4. Care for or obligation to a family member in the U.S. military
Managing employee FMLA leave is an important part of every HR department. FMLA leave helps employees balance their work and personal life by giving them the opportunity to take unpaid leave for medical or family circumstances.

In addition to FMLA requirements, employers also need to abide by all applicable state and local regulations governing employee leave, as well as time-limited regulations like the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Depending on your industry and business model, there may also be union-mandated leave requirements to keep in mind.

Issues managing employee leave

It’s expected that you’re going to have some issues when it comes to managing employee leave. It can be a complicated process, especially if you’re managing time off for hundreds of employees at the same time. Some of the most common issues with managing employee leave include:

  • Payroll errors: Payroll errors are a common mistake that comes with leave management. In order to reduce payroll errors, it might be helpful to have a payroll system that can automate and simplify the payroll process for you. This reduces the risk of human error that can end up costing your company money.
  • Tracking employee leave: Keeping track of your employees’ leave is another common issue, which is why it’s helpful to use a leave management system that can track and approve time-off requests for you.
  • Employee confusion: Another common issue with employee leave simply has to do with your employees not actually knowing the policies about taking time off. This is why it’s crucial for your leave policies to be written in the employee handbook, which every employee is obligated to read.
  • Leave abuse: It’s crucial to discipline any employees who engage in leave abuse in order to let other employees know that it is not something that the company takes lightly. Leave abuse can end up costing your company significant amounts of money, so make sure your employees understand that there will be repercussions if leave abuse occurs.

Being aware of these common issues is helpful so that you know what to do and what not to do when it comes to leave management for your business.

Benefits of leave management systems

The HR department of any company has a lot of responsibilities when it comes to keeping track of employees’ time off. Now imagine working for a large corporation with hundreds of employees, and having to keep track of all their time off during the holidays or other busy seasons. You can only imagine how stressful that might be, which is exactly why using a leave management system is so helpful.

A leave management system is essentially a way to streamline your leave request and approval workflow, which can save your company valuable time and money. There are various stages involved in the leave management process, and a leave management system simplifies them all for you.

Some of the main benefits of using a leave management system include:

  • Boost employee retention
  • Remain in compliance with labor laws
  • Improve productivity
  • Prevent pay errors
  • Eliminate manual processes
  • Monitor employee leave in real-time

A leave management system is ideal for keeping track of leave applications, remaining leave balances, and pending management approvals. A leave management system puts all necessary employee information in one convenient place, so you can access it whenever you need. A leave management system also reduces the chance of human error, which can end up saving your company valuable time and money.

The bottom line: Why leave management is important

The bottom line is that employee leave is a complex and very important facet of your employee benefits package. Keeping on top of your annual leave policies efficiently requires automated workforce management software that integrates easily with your time and attendance and scheduling programs to make sure that employees are receiving the correct amount of leave, and that all shifts and jobs are covered while workers are on leave. Find out more about the many ways Ascentis time and attendance solutions can simplify leave management across your organization.

With more than 35 years of experience in providing Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, Ascentis thought leaders have become a respected source for insights, tips, and innovations in the Human Capital Management (HCM) space.