How should my company track FMLA leave?

Asian businesswoman sitting in office, looking tired.

Young businesswoman looking tired 1

HR administrators who once felt firmly in control of the responsibilities required of them now must master a host of new forms and formulas to ensure compliance. Prime examples are Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requirements, with their web of qualifying events, intermittent absences, and plentiful paperwork.

So how can HR professionals keep their head above water? Unfortunately, the days of being able to manually track FMLA and other common forms of leave are swiftly coming to an end. To refer to our earlier point, there are simply too many moving pieces for large, mid-sized, or even small companies to track using tools such as time sheets, punch cards, and Excel spreadsheets.

These methods are time-consuming and rely on formulas that leave a lot of room for human error. FMLA also requires an abundance of paperwork deadlines, such as a recertification every 30 days, which can overwhelm even stalwart human resource managers.

For these reasons, more and more companies are utilizing digital solutions to track information that once was handled manually. And we applaud this trend: Benefits of web-based software applications are many and obvious. These solutions allow HR administrators to streamline the entire process by tracking absences, generating task lists, and housing and distributing paperwork all in one electronic location.

Many also automatically adjust calculations for state-by-state variations, such as in the state of Oregon, where employees only had to have worked 180 calendar days in the previous year to qualify for state FMLA protections. Most solutions also combine FMLA tracking with tracking of absences such as short-term disability leave and worker’s compensation, saving additional time and energy.

The key question is whether or not these digital solutions should be managed in-house or by a third-party administrator. Even though it is helpful and easy-to-use, software still requires input from a user who has the time to devote to administration and who is knowledgeable about FMLA.

More and more companies are finding it more cost-effective and less risky to simply delegate these responsibilities to a third party. Creative Benefits, Inc. has created an FMLA division, MedLeave Absence Management Solutions, to accommodate the growing number of companies realizing the benefits of outsourcing leave administration.

Determining which path your company should follow is a fairly easy. Just ask yourself, are you confident in the ability of your current personnel to effectively administrate FMLA leave? If the answer is anything but a resounding yes, you’re likely exposing yourself to risk that will only grow as more and more legislative changes take effect.

About the author: Kelly Fitzgerald is an Account Manager and FMLA Specialist with Creative Benefits, Inc. She assists clients with Family and Medical Leave Administration and provides consultative services to employers and their employees.