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February 4, 2021 | Time and Attendance | Posted by Ascentis Thought Leadership

A Guide to Better Employee Leave Management

Leave management is about 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 requires some genuine planning. Let’s take a look at some of the key considerations employers should take into account when mapping out an annual leave strategy. 

Understand the types of employee leave

Annual leave is the first thing that comes to mind for many people when discussing employee leave. Annual leave generally means paid time off 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. 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

Create consistent leave 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. 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. 

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 
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. 

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.