As we entered Spring, we had the pleasure of attending the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC)’s FMLA/ADA Employer Compliance Conference last week. The event brings together absence management, health and welfare experts, including attorneys, to discuss trending updates and methodologies in the world of absence/disability management compliance. Here is a snapshot of sessions I found engaging, representing top areas of interest this year.

Compliance remains a cornerstone for employers navigating the complex web of regulations. Here are some sessions that dove deep into different areas of compliance concerns:

– A group of former military personnel tackled the unique circumstance of addressing employees currently or formally serving in the military. Their session was titled “Can-U-SERRA?”

– The session, “Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act (PWFA): A View From the Top,” reviewed resources pregnant employees have and what employers must do to stay compliant.

– In the interactive session, “State Your Leave: A Case Study Expedition Through Multiple States,” attendees were tasked with determining which laws/regulations take precedence over others.

-Two federal agency leaders clarified recent “Insights from the DOL and EEOC: Current FMLA and ADA Challenges,” which outlined recent regulatory updates and how HR teams should address them.

2. Addressing Unique Challenges

HR teams nationwide must adapt to new regulatory updates and shifting best practices. Below are some insightful presentations that outline unique scenarios and how to tackle them.

– Counsel from Reliance Matrix explained “How to Manage an Uncooperative Employee Under the ADA.” They outlined what medical information employers can request, important deadlines and best practices.

– My session, “How Workforce Flexibility Translates to Absence Management Success,” reviewed quantitative data that suggests more flexible employers see higher return-to-work rates and showcased specific employer case studies.

– I was joined by AbsenceSoft’s Chief Strategy Officer, Seth Turner, to discuss “How to Evaluate and Mature Your Leave Program.” We shared a maturity model for leave management and provided suggestions for streamlining and optimizing leave programs.

3. Ensuring Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Championing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) remains a top priority for HR and benefit teams across the US. With that, DEI was a hot-button topic at this year’s conference; here are some related sessions I would like to spotlight.

– The penultimate presentation, “One Workplace, Many Generations: Compliant Benefits for All,” helped identify ways to satisfy a multi-generational workforce with benefit offerings while staying compliant.

– The bonus session, “Supporting Employees During Pregnancy and Childbirth,” helped attendees understand current federal laws impacting pregnant workers including state anti-discrimination laws and paid family and medical leave laws.

– “Workplace Religious Accommodation Requests: What You Need to Know” provided great insights when it comes to ensuring employees of all religious beliefs are protected, and HR professionals are aware of federal resources and regulations.

As the conference concluded, attendees departed with a wealth of knowledge and insights to navigate the evolving landscape of leave management. With a renewed focus on compliance best practices like those mentioned above, organizations are poised to effectively support their workforce and meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. I am excited to see what DMEC’s Annual Conference has in store for us in August.