It can be very challenging for employers to keep track of changing and varying leave regulations, especially while juggling other business responsibilities and working to achieve business objectives. Compliance with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other leave laws falls at the far end of the difficulty spectrum for employers, according to Paul D. Taylor, vice president, Group Disability Product Management for MetLife. Leave laws continually change, and while federal laws provide basic guidance for all employers, nuances often come into play in the form of state and municipal laws and regulations. What’s more, says Taylor, is that in the employee benefits space, most leave legislation is relatively new. “That means that there hasn’t been much practical application yet, so legislation is still subject to a lot of interpretation, which further complicates administration for employers.”

Additional factors that pose administrative challenges to employers when it comes to absence management are flexible work arrangements, intermittent claims, and the “rolling” method of determining leave entitlement. Many companies, in order to attract and retain top talent, offer flexible work arrangements to better meet the lifestyle needs of their employees. These arrangements can be very difficult to track if there isn’t a centralized and flexible administration system in place. On the back end, intermittent claims often present great difficulty for employers with respect to claims management. There can be situations in which an employee requires time off every other week for medical appointments, for example, and keeping track of these absences can be challenging. With a rolling 12-month calendar, an employer must look back over the last 12 months from the date of an employee’s initial leave request, add all FMLA time the employee has used during the previous 12 months, and then subtract that total from the employee’s leave allotment. “Making sure leave time becomes available as the calendar progresses can be complicated without the right system in place,” says Taylor.

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