Managing Employee Leave Requests
Every employee will eventually request some type of leave. Whether it’s a short vacation, a few sick days or an extended leave covered under FMLA, understanding the different leaves of absence and having provisions in place for handling them will improve attendance rates and employee morale company-wide.
Different Types of Leave
What are the fundamental differences between the different types of leave? Some types of leave are covered under federal or state laws and must be given reasonable or absolute acceptance within a company’s attendance policy. Others are optional considerations given to employees based on an individual business’ attendance needs. Here are some examples outlining common types of requested leave:
- Vacation days – Sometimes referred to as “personal days” vacation days cover anything that doesn’t fall into another type of leave request. Taking the day off to recover from a particularly busy period of work, leaving for a week to visit family or leaving work to attend to personal matters are all examples of personal days. It’s up to each individual company or division to decide if these days come with or without pay unless state law says otherwise.
- Sick Leave – Any absence due to an illness or injury. These are sometimes grouped with personal days; other times they are given their own separate tally within an employees’ individual attendance record.
- FMLA – The Family and Medical Leave Act covers a variety of situations related to employee absences. The federal law has different provisions for how pay should be handled depending on the type of leave and state laws may have their own additional requirements as well. Maternal leave is an example of an FMLA-related absence. It’s important to stay up-to-date on the ever-changing FMLA laws to ensure compliance and avoid federal penalties.
- Other Federal and State Required Leave – There are a number of other laws covering leaves of absence that must be given provisions by a company’s attendance plan. Jury duty is an example of a short absence required by law. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, or USERRA, is an example of an extended leave of absence required by federal law. Keeping up on these and other laws on the federal and state levels will ensure businesses don’t face fines or penalties by being in non-compliance with these regulations.
When being given paid leave employees are usually limited by a set number of days or hours they have accrued over the past year(s). Having a clear and easily accessible set of rules and procedures for both requesting and going on various types of leave will help employees to stay in compliance with each business’ individual attendance policy.
Ways to Manage Employee Leave Requests
There are a number of ways to manage leaves of absence within a business. Choosing a method that works is up to each individual business and their unique attendance needs. In general, most methods of tracking can fall within two categories:
- Manual Tracking – Leave requests are made, recorded and tallied by hand then either given written documentation or inputted into a spreadsheet or database. When using a spreadsheet or database some of the calculations can be automated, but the majority of the work is tracked and counted by hand. Requests are usually made in person or sent via an internal messaging system within the company. This is the most time-consuming and error-prone method.
- Automated Tracking with Software – Tracking is done with an intelligent software system specifically designed to manage attendance policy such as the absence management software provided by Advance Systems Incorporated. Employee leave requests are made within an employees’ personal attendance control panel. These requests are then sent to a managers application dashboard for approval. Once a leave of absence has been approved and taken, the system will automatically deduct the number of days from that employees’ attendance profile. Accrued vacation and sick days are automatically tallied based on set criteria for vacation accrual. Individual attendance codes can be assigned for each unique type of absence and there are an unlimited number of available codes to configure within the system. Attendance totals are tracked and tallied without the need for additional input. Employees are provided with an overview of their individual attendance records and managers can view these records along with company or section-wide statistics for overall attendance. Almost all of the tracking itself is done by the software with minimal input required. This is by far the most cost-efficient, accurate and easy way to manage an attendance policy.
Including Leaves of Absence in an Attendance Policy
Providing clear guidelines for leaves of absence is an important part of any attendance policy. Regardless of whether absences are given paid or unpaid time-off, an outline of how these days can be requested and taken when needed will help keep things running smoothly in a busy business environment. Even if a business does not allow vacation or sick days at all, this should be clearly stated within the attendance policy itself to ensure employees understand that this isn’t allowed. To help manage this policy, consider implementing a software system specifically designed to for this purpose. Keeping a consistent and easy-to-follow attendance policy will help to ensure employee compliance and attendance.