Employers who manage an hourly, distributed workforce are no stranger to the difficulties of no call-no shows, tracking employee absences and resolving last-minute scheduling changes. Your business has likely adopted some form of call-in practice to ease this process and ensure there’s time to make changes and maintain staffing levels. However, what happens when an employee absence is protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)? Do the same practices apply? Let’s discuss the affect FMLA has on call-in policies and what you can do to ensure compliance.
FMLA Compliance for Call-Ins
FMLA regulations related to call-in procedures have evolved largely to the benefit of employers. In fact, FMLA expressly requires employees to follow employer’s established call-in procedures for reporting FMLA-specific absences. That said, there are certain exceptions that employers need to be mindful of—primarily in situations where an employee fails to call off in the appropriate amount of time due to an emergency situation or from being in a critical physical condition.
There are also potential complications for employees calling off during intermittent leave or if your company uses a third-party HR provider. For these reasons, you need to carefully consider potential grey areas when formulating your workforce management approach. In order to protect your business against potential FMLA-related lawsuits, let’s talk through some potential solutions.
Maintaining FMLA Compliance with Call-In Policies
You need to protect your business from leave-related compliance issues, as well as maintain staffing attendance levels to keep from straining workforce when employees call off. Luckily, because of FMLA’s considerations towards employer liability, you can focus on creating the best policy for your operation.
When creating a plan for managing call-ins and FMLA-related concerns, consider the following best practices:
- Create a thorough call-in policy. Even if your business outsources leave administration to a third-party organization, your business is still liable for any FMLA violations that may occur. For this reason, having a clear call-in policy for your workforce to refer to can help both your managers and employees understand their responsibilities towards protected leave protocol. Specifically, your policies should include:
- When employees should report any absence (ex. an hour before their shift)
- Who to report the absence to
- What the content of the call-in should be
- Any qualifying “unusual” circumstances that could act as an exception to these requirements (ex. unforeseeable absence resulting from an ER visit can be reported as soon as practicable)
- Communicate policies in a variety of ways. To ensure optimum comprehension by all members of your workforce, it’s a good idea to communicate your call-in and FMLA-related policies in a variety of ways. In addition to constructing a plan for reporting absences, consider offering employees a formal employee handbook policy, training courses, and regular reminders of extra actions required relating to protected leave when PTO is being discussed.
- Train managers to enforce call-in policies. Managers often act as the middle party between employees and HR administration overseeing protected FMLA leave. Without preparing your workforce leadership, however, managers may forget to create the proper reports or pass along employee communications—creating breaches in FMLA protocol and delays that could put your business in hot water. By preparing your mangers with thorough training, you can eliminate confusion about required actions and ensure complete understanding of the time-sensitive nature and importance of maintaining FMLA records at all times.
- Establish practices to reinforce FMLA leave notice. This may include having employees complete written leave requests or asking employees for medical certification at various intervals of FMLA leave. These practices encourage employees to plan head, as well as decrease the chances of FMLA abuse within your organization.
HR Consulting Services
When you choose EPAY Systems, you’re choosing more than just a workforce management system and HR provider. You’re choosing a team of HR and technology experts whose goal is to successfully guide your business through hourly workforce obstacles with ease.
Our complete Human Capital Management solution includes access to premium HR assistance to help you overcome even the most daunting compliance challenges. Looking for FMLA help? Request more information about our HR Consulting Services or sign up for a demo of our solution today!