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5 Tips for Maintaining Compliance with Absence Regulations During a Crisis

Mar 25, 2020

5 Tips for Maintaining Compliance with Absence Regulations During a Crisis
Jill Keelan

Jill Keelan

Director, Product Marketing

When a crisis strikes—whether driven by political or economic turmoil or natural events—it is inevitable that a business will experience a spike in absenteeism. The most common reasons for absenteeism include military service, volunteerism, personal health problems, care for an affected family member, lack of childcare, fear and uncertainty, and much more. During these troubling circumstances, it is critical to be fair and consistent in your treatment of employees and their needs, uphold their rights, and ensure that you follow all legal requirements—from labor laws to employment agreements—and can prove compliance. That’s why we compiled these 5 tips for maintaining compliance with absence regulations during a crisis.

TIP #1 – Knowledge is power, documentation rules

When speaking with various organizations about how they manage regulated leave for their employees, it is often one person, usually known only by one name like a major celebrity, that holds all the knowledge—in their head. This person might have one or many sidekicks, but each one only has a fraction of their knowledge. Here’s the thing, what happens if this one person is absent and there is no way to reach to them?

Complete and utter chaos! The sidekicks will be scrambling to compile all their fractured knowledge, inconsistencies and errors will ensue, and you will open yourself up for litigation, fines, and damage to your brand.

To mitigate these risks, you must begin preparations long before a crisis strikes. Document every absence regulation and internal leave policy for every jurisdiction and location. This documentation should include the details of the benefit, eligibility determination, workflows, documentation requirements, and return to work criteria.

TIP #2 – Take the blinders off

When a law is originally drafted and put into effect, it is highly likely not every circumstance has been considered. When a crisis strikes, lawmakers may choose to amend an existing piece of legislation or introduce a new one, temporarily or permanently, in order to remove any doubt on how to manage a leave request under these circumstances.

It is important for you to have a trusted resource that continually monitors for changes in the laws, summarizes them in easy to understand language, and communicates the changes including effective dates.

TIP #3 – Don’t make assumptions

It is imperative to fully understand both the employer and employee obligations and rights under each law. If something is not explicitly defined, consult with legal counsel and other experts that specialize in employment law in the jurisdiction in which the law applies. Noncompliance—whether intentional or not—is noncompliance.

Digitalize Compliance Processes to Reduce Risk

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Learn more effective ways to demonstrate compliance with the complex matrix of labor laws, while also keeping costs down and reducing risks.

TIP #4 – Internalize it

A crisis can have a lasting impact on your employees—both personally and professionally—and, in turn, employees will have a lasting impression of their employer. How you handle a crisis can directly impact whether you will be able to retain your employees after you come out on the other side of it.

Just as laws need to be revisited during a crisis, so should your internal policies. Take the time to evaluate your current policies to safeguard your employees’ wellbeing—economically, physically, and emotionally—and make sure they are in line with any changes to the laws in each location where you have operations.

TIP #5 – Don’t keep it to yourself

It’s just as important for you to understand each law and internal policy as it is for your employees to be adequately armed in order to understand the benefits available to them when a crisis strikes. As crisis becomes the new normal, your ability to respond and the benefits you offer become a competitive advantage for your recruiting team.

Once you have established guidelines, document and publish them in a way that is easy for your employees to consume and understand. The documentation should include the benefits available to them, the eligibility requirements, and their obligations throughout the process—from initial request through return to work.

Maintain compliance

Keeping track of the everchanging legal landscape, employment agreements, and internal policies can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to. The WorkForce Suite’s absence and leave management capabilities will help you maintain compliance with all of your obligations—legislative to internal. By combining labor law expertise on staff with pre-built best practices, leave case management features, and a future-ready platform to address your unique requirements, we’ve got your covered. To learn more, download our absence, leave, and accommodation datasheet, or contact us today.

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