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Proliferating Patchwork of Paid Sick Leave Laws Tops HR’s Leave Management Headaches

Among the many challenges facing leave managers and human resource professionals, the No. 1 headache is dealing with the continuously evolving patchwork of laws around paid sick leave, according to a 2017 article by the Association of Corporate Counsel. An April 2018 article in Labor & Employment Law Perspectives summed up the situation nicely: “Paid Sick Leave Requirements Beginning to Resemble a Crazy Quilt of Legislation.”

The Association of Corporate Counsel advises that keeping up with recent developments is important to lowering the risk of missteps and potential litigation. It’s not an easy task. Just a few years ago, paid sick leave was a matter of employer choice. That all began to change when Connecticut became the first state to mandate paid leave for service workers in 2011.

Labor & Employment Law Perspectives has reported that as of July 1, 2018, nine states, the District of Columbia, and “multiple other jurisdictions” have enacted some form of paid sick leave requirements. The Association of Corporate Counsel says at least 33 counties and cities require employers doing business in their boundaries to offer paid sick leave.

  • States: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington
  • Larger jurisdictions: Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, and Philadelphia

In addition, federal Executive Order 13706 requires certain federal government contractors to provide paid sick leave to covered employees.

Yet, in an opposing trend, several states have prohibited local governments from enacting local paid sick leave requirements. Labor & Employment Law Perspectives reports that approximately 18 states have passed these types of paid leave preemption laws. Among them are Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Is your head spinning? If not, now consider the most common issues that a paid sick leave law or regulation will address:

  • Eligibility or restrictions on eligibility
  • Accrual rate and/or cap
  • Covered uses
  • Advance notice requirements
  • Ability to require documentation
  • Ability to require compliance with other call-in procedures
  • Annual usage or carryover requirements or limits
  • Requirements of rehire
  • Payout allowed or required
  • Retaliation or discipline prohibited
  • Tracking or notice requirements

To help deal with the headache of paid sick leave, an increasing number of companies are turning to automated leave management technology, such as Optis LeaveXpert and ADAInteract. Based on a survey last year of 1,203 employers by the not-for-profit Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC), employers overall reported that using automated  leave management and collaborating with a technology vendor improved their ability to stay apprised of changing regulations and requirements, particularly given today’s high level of leave legislation activity.

Still, managing intermittent leave — separate blocks of time taken for a single illness or injury — remains the most difficult FMLA activity to manage for employers of all sizes and industries, the survey showed.

The answer is a leave management system that offers FMLA compliance resources, return-to-work and accommodation tools, and reports on the direct and indirect costs of leave, all at a price that can fit into any budget or pass any purchase-approval process.

That solution is not pie in the sky. You can most likely afford to do leave management better, and here are three reasons why: 

  1. You can try an online, dedicated leave management solution for free and use it immediately. LeaveXpert Essential is available for 30 days with a free trial — with no automatic purchasing trigger that gets pulled after 30 days.
  2. You can choose to get more power for your leave management system if you need it — and only when you need it. With Optis LeaveXpert Essential, Plus, and Unlimited editions, you can get full insight into how leave is being used and managed in your organization immediately upon sign-up and know you can expand your system as your needs develop and as you feel comfortable moving forward.
  3. A leave management system provides benefits you can’t afford not to have. In the U.S. today, absence costs employers approximately $100 billion annually. Defending an employment lawsuit — including one resulting from alleged noncompliance with leave laws — can cost an employer up to $250,000 per incident. 

Optis’ cloud-based leave management system, LeaveXpert, helps organizations of all sizes see bottom-line business results through effective leave and absence management. Designed in three editions to meet any organization’s situation and needs, LeaveXpert is purpose-built for speedy implementation and access.