FMLA Tracking: What HR Leaders Need to Know

Managing FMLA leave is difficult.  There’s a lot to keep track of – determining eligibility, sending leave correspondence, coordinating with payroll, and return to work efforts.  This is all in addition to non-FMLA leaves that keep growing in number.

What HR Leaders Need to Know

As your company’s HR department develops and more responsibilities are added on a daily basis it’s hard to keep up with all the changes happening with the Family Medical Leave Act and the hundreds of others things. Instead of stressing out about changes to FMLA learn about the processes that you can improve upon to make FMLA tracking even easier.

Here are a few processes you can put in place to prevent FMLA tracking from becoming a four letter word: 

Say goodbye to spreadsheets, desk calendars, and sticky notes.

  • There’s no disaster recovery.  Spreadsheets get lost, saved over and corrupted.
  • There’s a higher likelihood of inconsistently managing leave – when everyone on the HR team is using their own spreadsheet, it’s likely there are inconsistencies in the way leave is being managed and applied.  Also, when a HR team member transitions out of the team, someone is left with their customized spreadsheet, having to decipher their current employee leaves.

Receive automatic updates when there’s a change to a leave law or a new law is added

  • New York is implementing a paid leave law on April 1.  Oregon updated their Domestic Violence leave law this year.  Don’t waste time looking up these laws for every leave of absence or unintentionally denying a leave an employee is eligible for.  Seek out a solution that will give you these law updates.

Integrate all of your people data surrounding leave

  • The key here is being able to see the big picture of the state of your absence and identify the trends that are affecting your bottom line.  Be able to know which FMLA leave becomes a disability leave, run FMLA leave concurrent with workers’ compensation leave, etc.

Don’t reinvent the wheel, and make sure you save everything related to a leave

  • Have standard emails and letter templates ready to send for each step of the leave process, such as leave approval or denial, requesting medical certification, return to work documentation, etc.
  • Remember to save every communication for audit history.

Streamline leave procedures and apply all leave policies consistently

  • Make certain that there’s a streamlined process for an employee to request a leave, whether it be via the internet or a call line.  Be sure that all of the leave details are collected in a consistent manner.
  • Ensure the way you are calculating your FMLA calendar year – rolling forward, backward, calendar year or fixed is consistent for each employee and is known throughout the company.

How do you manage FMLA in your workplace? 


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Archie Anderson

Archie Anderson is the President and CEO of Optis, where he provides leadership and strategic planning for the company. Archie has more than 20 years of experience in the employee benefits and risk management industries.


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