No items found.

Why it’s time to stop manually tracking employee leave compliance

HR teams trying to reconcile everything between FMLA compliance, ever-changing state laws, and their own leave policy need a better solution.

Ryley Donohoe
Ryley Donohoe
Why it’s time to stop manually tracking employee leave compliance

People leaders are drawn to HR because they love working with people. People teams maximize value for employees through recruiting, talent development, total rewards, overall employee experience, and company culture. In other words, People teams help set their employees up for success. But what happens when employees are set up to fail? Anyone that’s ever managed an employee leave in-house (or with a traditional leave provider, for that matter) will understand that the complexity can quickly become overwhelming and lead to a poor employee experience.

What employee leave looks like without a solution

Picture this… you get an email from an employee in Washington announcing that they’re pregnant and need to take parental leave, but they want to set up a call to go over their options. You send a congratulations email and then spend the rest of your day frantically researching Washington’s leave laws to make sure you’re prepared for the call. 

  • Do you need to send any compliance notices? How does it interact with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • What’s the application process like? The state website has 12, 16, and 18 weeks of paid leave listed — what do you tell the employee? 
  • You see something about employer contributions, so you also send a note to the Finance team to make sure that’s been setup correctly. 
  • There are a lot of qualifying reasons for paid parental leave but is there anything else you need to ask the employee? 
  • What are you allowed to ask? 

You document everything diligently and make it through the call with the employee (phew!) The next day, you receive a Slack message from an employee based in California that they’re adopting and will also be taking parental leave. You now get to start this process all over again because nothing you learned yesterday about Washington applies to this employee and you need to know about CFRA, CA PFL, CA PDL, and SF PPLO to have an informed conversation with your employee.

Keeping up with compliance requirements

This cycle never ends for your team — even if you’re a seasoned HR veteran and you’ve helped many employees take leave, the laws are constantly changing. You can build the most in-depth and beautiful spreadsheet in the world and it will constantly need to be updated as states change weekly benefits maximums, covered relationships, submission deadlines and processes, and more. As of this writing, 11 states have Paid Family Leave laws in effect, 7 others have passed laws that will soon go into effect, and more than 15 states are currently proposing Paid Family and Medical Leave laws. Not only do you need to know FMLA like the back of your hand, but also you need to keep track of state-by-state variances. Some states have mandatory participation, while others offer voluntary involvement. Some states are exploring private insurance options, while others are looking into building out full leave insurance products.

On top of all of this, these federal and state leave laws need to integrate with your company policy. Keeping compliance tasks straight can often feel like a never-ending checklist. Unfortunately, it’s a checklist you can’t skip out on unless you want to open your company up to legal risk and lawsuits. The cost of leave mismanagement can be high — upwards of $1.3 million for a single case in Massachusetts. Whether you manage leave in house, contract a traditional leave management provider, or implement leave management software, understanding the fundamentals of employee leave compliance is crucial. 

Why manually tracking FMLA and state leave compliance doesn’t work

Looking at the complexity of leave laws in the United States, People teams quickly realize there are too many regulations and too much legalese for a single person (or team) to keep straight. Not only is it a time drain, it’s an inefficient use of your team’s time. When companies have inefficient processes, they look for software solutions to automate things that humans shouldn’t have to do. Your company has a payroll system to streamline pay and an HRIS system to help with People management. Your Payroll team isn't calculating taxes in spreadsheets and mailing paper checks — so why are you managing leave manually?

When your team is ready to find the right leave management system, make sure you’re evaluating solutions that can scale with your team. If your spreadsheet to keep leave laws straight was error-prone, what makes a rep-based service model that does manual intake calls to determine employee eligibility any different? Don’t leave the accuracy and quality of your employee’s entire leave experience to the luck of the draw based on which representative they’re assigned. Technology is here to change the way you manage leave. Cocoon’s software codifies ever-changing federal and state leave laws and automatically sends required compliance notices, eliminating human error and legal risk across geographies — their support approach also backs this up. This gives your People team time back to focus on what matters most — putting your employees first.

It's time to ditch the spreadsheets

It's time to ditch the spreadsheets

Let us automate the complexities of compliance, claims, and payroll for you.

It's time to enter the next generation of employee leave