Research indicates that employees who invoke the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are much more likely to request short-term disability within a year. Rather than just sit with that sound bite, Integrated Benefits Institute advises companies to do something about it.
“A worker’s request for leave under the FMLA may be a precursor to other, more costly leaves. Rather than view the FMLA as strictly a legal compliance requirement, employers should consider using FMLA as an early-warning system to detect potential costly health issues among their employees and their families,” said Thomas Parry, IBI president.
A panel of IBI experts has come out with six practical steps employers can take to address the impact on their business of such absences.
1. Connect employees with resources: When employers become aware of employees’ challenging personal situations through FMLA requests, they have the opportunity to direct workers to resources that can help minimize the risks of subsequent claims. Employers should take steps to connect employees requesting FMLA leaves with resources such as employee assistance programs, ergonomic interventions and disease management programs.
2. Explore work continuity options: Discussions with employees about job accommodation and stay-at-work options should commence at the earliest opportunity. Job accommodation and stay-at-work programs involve making changes to the duties of affected employees to enable them to continue working at a reduced level.