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If you want to get a clearer idea of what Optis does, or if you're curious about our perspective on absence, risk, and data management, our blog is a great place to start. Feel free to leave comments or share our blog posts with any of your social connections.


 

It’s been over a quarter-century since President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law, and more than eight years have passed since the act was amended to give employers and business owners greater clarity and guidance into the civil rights protections the ADA set in place. Now, the same way the ongoing debate over healthcare reform has reached into nearly every corner of American life, it’s similarly raised concerns around the ADA and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA).

Consider these recent headlines:

As Congress debates plans that could have sweeping implications for people with disabilities and what that could mean in the workplace, employers must still meet the already complex ADA accommodation regulations. Although the 2008 amendments provided comprehensive guidance for employers, compliance remains a huge challenge. The risks of noncompliance can be costly. And it looks like things aren’t going to get easier to manage anytime soon.

That said, if you’re an employer that must comply with the ADA and ADAAA, you can take seven steps to ensure that you efficiently and accurately track, manage, and document your accommodation process to mitigate compliance risk and eliminate employee grievances.

  1. Use an interactive process. Simply put, an interactive process means that employers and employees who request accommodations because of a disability work together. But simple doesn’t always mean easy, uncomplicated, or without potential risks. The right process solution makes a huge difference.

  2. Have a way to safely validate accommodation claims. Legal experts and courts routinely disagree on what defines a “reasonable” ADA/ADAAA request or accommodation. But you need a process to manage those requests and accommodations to ensure compliance, maintain productivity, and prevent employee disengagement.

  3. Have a smooth return-to-work process. If a returning employee is disabled or has a record of a disability, they may need additional accommodations after returning to work. Required under the ADA, these accommodations can include time off for medical appointments or therapy sessions, special equipment, or workplace modifications.

  4. Stay up to date with EEOC enforcement guidance. The EEOC has issued guidance on ADA topics ranging from the “unlawful disparate treatment” of workers with caregiving responsibilities to the definition of psychiatric disabilities under the act. You need a system that will automatically update your accommodations process.

  5. Perform efficient and complete compliance self-audits. You need to regularly review your compliance strategies and tactics. A compliance self-audit that reviews all of your ADA-related policies and practices requires the ability to monitor all of the actions related to any accommodation request.

  6. Have a process for complying with local and state laws or multiple leave accommodations. An employee may qualify for multiple leaves and accommodations. The FMLA and ADA/ADAAA often overlap. The results can be an administration quagmire for HR and cause significant disruptions for managers and employees. You need a way to ensure that your plans comply with all applicable laws.

  7. Be prepared to accept full responsibility. Regardless of who manages your employees’ requests for ADA/ADAAA accommodations or their claims under FMLA, if the IRS determines any penalties or fees are due, you’ll be the one it holds responsible. You need to be able to absolutely trust any outside solution or vendor you use to manage your process and plan.

To better understand why these steps are so important, and to get a clearer picture of how to act on them in your organization, download our e-book “Seven Steps to Safe Swimming in the Dangerous Waters of ADA Accommodation Compliance.”

ADAInteract® from Optis makes it easy to manage accommodation requests and the ADAAA interactive process. ADAInteract increases efficiency in the disability accommodations process by providing a centralized system for managing every accommodation request — and the entire ADAAA interactive process. With three editions of ADAInteract, Optis makes it possible for your company to get exactly what you need to manage every piece of the complicated ADA process and be sure you’re in compliance.

Start your free 30-day trial today!

It’s no secret that employee absences can hamstring your organization’s ability to achieve its strategic goals. But what may be surprising is the scope of the problem or how much it actually costs American businesses.

  • In 2015, an estimated 3 percent of an employer's workforce was absent on any given day, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Paid absences cost employers between 20.9 and 22.1 percent of total payroll, according to a SHRM/Kronos survey.

A comprehensive, cloud-based employee leave and attendance program can play a strategic role in keeping employees at work and reducing the costs of healthcare and workers’ compensation. The result will be an increase in productivity and overall business performance. But for those programs to work, you need to be sure your company’s leave and attendance policies and practices are comprehensive; promote appropriate employee behaviors; and are well communicated and understood by employees and supervisors.

The first two elements for success are all about the design of your leave and attendance policies and programs, and can be pretty concretely defined. The last critical measure — making sure your leave and absence policies are well communicated and understood by everyone — is more subjective. In fact, ensuring the success of even the best comprehensive, technology-based leave and management program depends on how you communicate it to and gain the support of front-line managers and supervisors.

Yet leave management is part of the job of your front-line managers. Unfortunately, front-line managers at best get one-time training on leave and management policies and programs and get relatively little, if any, time to coach or work with employees to use those policies to better manage time away from work. Consider these workplace findings from McKinsey & Company:

  • Across industries, front-line managers spend 30 to 60 percent of their time on administrative work and meetings, and 10 to 50 percent on non-managerial tasks.
  • They spend only 10 to 40 percent of their time actually managing front-line employees by, for example, coaching them directly.

By comparison, the McKinsey research found that at best-practice companies, front-line managers allocate 60 to 70 percent of their time to the floor, “much of it in high-quality individual coaching. Such companies also empower their managers to make decisions and act on opportunities.”

Here are five tips to help your line managers better manage leaves and absences to boost employee engagement and help achieve business goals.

  1. Use absence and leave management software to identify trends. Managers could probably tell you which employees tend to take more time off than others. Having hard data — easily accessible from a leave management software solution — gives managers meaningful insight into absence trends and sets the stage for one-on-one conversations to identify problems and improve attendance.
  2. Understand, know, and communicate the rules for extended leaves. Regardless of whether the right to an extended leave of absence is mandated by federal law, local law, or your organization’s policies, managers need to know how to respond to requests with knowledge and empathy. A quality technology-based leave management system will include updates for any rules or laws that affect your workforce.
  3. Set and follow realistic return-to-work schedules. Having comprehensive medical leave guidelines in your leave and management software gives managers the tools they need to have an informed conversation with the employee about the length of leave and any accommodations that may be necessary upon return.
  4. Encourage employees to plan for vacation as far in advance as possible. The more line managers know about who will be out and when they’ll be gone, the more easily and effectively they can plan for coverage. A comprehensive leave management solution will help employees apply for time off sooner and help managers plan for absences in advance.
  5. Respond to absence requests quickly. Front-line managers can benefit greatly from a cloud-based leave management system that gives them real-time capabilities for reviewing and responding to requests for time off.
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Solving the Puzzle of Leave Management

Based on an Optis survey of HR professionals, discover the leave management pieces that could reduce your compliance risk and cost of absences.

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