There seem to be an endless number of concerns facing business owners these days. Will there be a recession in 2020? Will a new, bigger competitor enter my marketplace? Do I really need to learn about social media and digital transformation?
The answers to the above questions are…not sure, not sure, yes and yes. Now I want to add one more question to your growing list – Is your company ready to manage paid family and medical leave in 2020?
Today, employee leave has a disproportionate impact on small businesses – owners not only need to worry about being down an employee, but they also need to implement a business process to manage employee leave and stay compliant…and people wonder why we love running our own companies!
The two main drivers prompting employers – big and small – to adopt absence management programs are:
- Compliance with various national and state laws
- Improving workforce productivity (e.g., keeping employees at work and returning them to work following a leave).
- A third goal for employers is to improve the administrative burden on their HR/benefits team while also improving the efficiency of leave management.
Today, more states are considering, proposing, and enacting legislation related to paid family and medical leave. The constant changes covering employee leave make it difficult for many small businesses to keep up. Hiring an outside resource to manage employee leave may be unattainable to many small businesses, but it’s important to work with a company that understands the unique needs of leave management for small businesses.
Small companies are under pressure to adopt absence management practices that will help them stay compliant and avoid fines associated with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Short Term Disability (STD), and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The fines and/or lawsuits can be significant, too! For example, if found in violation of the ADA, organizations and businesses can be fined up to $75,000 for their first ADA violation and $150,000 for any subsequent violation. Meanwhile, the average cost to defend an FMLA lawsuit is $78,000.
The trend in employee leave laws is significant given that small businesses have generated more than 50% of new jobs since the early 1990s and are responsible for the financial wellbeing of more than 60 million working Americans and their families.
Additionally, according to Guardian’s Workplace Benefits Study: “Small Business, Big Benefits,” more than 7 in 10 workers in small firms rely on their employer as their household’s primary source of health, life and disability insurance, and retirement savings.
“If your company is ready to implement a leave management program, we’ve found over the past eight years of conducting our study there are five best practices to manage paid and medical leave businesses should adopt,” said Steve Coffman, senior life and disability practice leader, Guardian Life.
The five best practices small employers should consider include: Centralized intake process, same resources for STD and FMLA, health management referrals, full return to work (RtW) program, and reporting capability. You can view more details here.
I can’t help you with the recession or competition questions above, but I can tell you, with confidence, having paid and medical leave as part of your plans for 2020 is a smart idea.
For additional information on managing paid and medical leave, please check out these studies:
- Guardian Workplace Benefits Study: “Small Business, Big Benefits”
- 2019 Guardian Absence Management Activity Index & Study: “The Value of Leave Management Integration”
This post is sponsored by Guardian Life Insurance