As we progress through 2023, maneuvering changing regulations and compliance updates have been challenging for HR professionals across the nation. Many COVID-19 provisions are expiring soon, states are constantly shifting paid leave policies and managing hybrid/remote workforces are just a few hurdles employers are facing when it comes establishing effective and compliant leave programs. Every year the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) hosts their Compliance Conference, where experts from around the nation discuss current trends in compliance, best practices for employers, and the future of the industry. This year I traveled to the beautiful (and warm) Orlando, Florida, to attend this year’s conference. As per usual, the conference provided a great platform for networking and ensuring attendees are tuned into the most pressing compliance matters.
This year, my colleague, Jennifer Campagna and I presented on Navigating Ancillary Paid Leave Options to Support Employee Well-Being, but with a unique twist. We included an interactive game to help attendees understand the benefits of ancillary leave options and how they can intertwine with your current offerings. During the session we handed out “Leave Bingo”, a Bingo-style game where attendees listened for key works and concepts throughout the presentation, to see if they have the words on their Bingo board. Winners received prizes and we all got a little pick-me-up from the chocolate provided. I was impressed with the leave offerings employers across the nation have adopted, some of which we covered in our presentation, like leave related to domestic violence, bereavement, mental health, and more. Although all these ancillary options sound great, they can be costly and difficult to manage from a compliance standpoint.
Aside from the game, we reviewed federal and state laws influencing corporate leave policies and how successful companies are managing their policies. Our presentation included case studies on organizations that implemented alternative leave programs and how it impacted their workforce. Many employers have realized one key to retaining/recruiting talent and combating productivity loss is by revaluating their leave policies and addressing pain points.
Some less traditional types of leave include:
- Religious observance leave
- Wellness days
- Caregiving leave
- Compassionate leave
- Humanitarian leave
- Sabbatical leave
- Time off as a gift or donation
- Time Off in Lieu of Working Overtimes (TOIL)
- Pet bereavement leave
As a board member of DMEC and an advocate for equitable paid leave programs, I am delighted to see where the future of the industry is headed. It is unlikely that we will see a nation-wide Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program introduced in 2023, but we are consistently seeing updates and clarifications to regulations such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), in addition to the uptick in state PFML programs and adjustments to existing state plans. Spring and I will continue to keep you up to date with updates in the absence management space and provide our clients with industry-leading programs that best match the needs of their specific workforce.
*Additionally, all Spring/Alera clients receive complimentary access to AleraHR and Alera Dashboard, which provide digital tools that help employers and HR teams manage employee benefits compliance deadlines and updates. It also provides users with a robust compliance library with insightful guides, comprehensive checklists, tools and calculators to create forms, job descriptions, explore salary comparisons.