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Employee Leave Best Practices | Unfiltered HR 016

Employee leave usage is on the rise following the return-to-work after COVID. The number of leave options available to employees is also at an all-time high, and employers are required by law to provide many of these leaves. Administering leaves and staying compliant with their requirements, while also reducing their impact on your business, can be tricky to do.

In this episode, Emily & Jen discuss multiple best practice tips to help you assemble a leave administration plan that will keep you out of trouble and make it easiest for you to manage these leaves within your business.

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Thank you Phil & Penny and the staff at Poplar Hill Estate & Luminated Landscapes in East Aurora, NY for hosting us!

 

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Learn more about Ally HR Partners and schedule a FREE consultation with Emily Martin: allyhrpartners.com

 

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Meet Jen Strait |
completepayroll.com/jen-strait

 

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NOTE: The following transcript was auto-generated. There may be some minor spelling and grammatical errors. Luckily, it seems we are still safe from the machines. For now.

Jen Strait Hey everyone, I am Jen Strait with Complete Payroll
Emily Martin I'm Emily Martin from Ally HR Partners.
Jen Strait And today we are at Poplar Hill Estates in East Aurora. It is a wedding venue. A beautiful wedding venue. Yeah, gorgeous. We are in actually the farmhouse now. We had a tour with the bridal suite. Maybe our Mr. Joe will send have some video of the whole thing.
Emily Martin Beautiful barn right now. High ceilings, beautiful light string string lights.
Jen Strait Beautiful outdoor venue as well.
Emily Martin So that's 1009. So up to 200 people, I think. And you can have an event with up to 200 people at this venue. So if you're looking to book a wedding this year, next year, that's year.
Jen Strait So it's beautiful. And we're probably going to come back here in the fall because this would just be a beautiful shot outside, but that's when the bees are coming. So we're going to try to avoid August. You know how I feel about bees. I know I sing here today. I guess it's a contraction.
Emily Martin So it's really.
Jen Strait Very well, the bees aren't too bad right now, but Poplar Hill Estates is also the sister company of Illuminated Landscapes. So we want to thank Phil Keller, Rousseau and Penny Jensen for having us here. Phil has been in the business for he's a multi award winning light, light, lighter, light.
Emily Martin Professional, exceptionally.
Jen Strait Light, landscape lighter. Yeah. He's been in the business over 30 years and has done some beautiful work. They have a wooded alpine, you see that was called we're in Cheektowaga probably by ten meters. But they.
Emily Martin Have a garden, a.
Jen Strait Garden, a garden walk in Cheektowaga. And he has done multiple, multiple houses within the garden lawn.
Emily Martin So if you're looking to spruce up your outdoor situation, I.
Jen Strait Guess, and how do your neighbors and other.
Emily Martin Businesses create your world with light? So indoors, outdoors, they do the outdoors, but light it up.
Jen Strait Yeah, absolutely. Check out their website. We'll have that provided here on both Poplar Hill estates and limited landscapes. We'll have that on the page below our video. But let's hop into it. Yeah, I would say let's jump into it. I don't know how to start it, but let's get started. Yeah, okay. Let's do it sometime in the summer.
Jen Strait Dove in the fall. I love it. I mean. Yeah. All right, Emily, what are we talking about today?
Emily Martin Today we are going to light up your world with practices on employee leave. It's something we kind of touched on in another episode, John, we were talking about kind of the the heightened awareness or the increased prevalence of employee medical and personal issues and mental health issues coming into the workplace and we touched on some leave obligations of employers and that.
Emily Martin But today we're going to dove a little bit deeper into some of the actual best practices that we'd recommend for you to take a look at or consider or at least make decisions on and put in place so that when you are doing this, you stay out of trouble, but also do the best thing for your business and your employees.
Jen Strait Yeah, and just to be clear, we we have had some videos that talk about very specifics of FMLA and PFO and covered leave and what qualifies for what. This is more of a what you do when you need a leave as opposed to the specifics of of leaves. I mean, we'll talk a little bit about that. But this is of, you know, everything that kind of plays a part with what you.
Emily Martin Need to do. Infrastructure, right. Because I think there are so many different leaves out there now, whether it's disability or FMLA. And that actually gets us into the kind of the first point here is, first of all, just knowing what it is that you are obligated to provide leave when it's right. So whether it's an employee's own medical condition that you need to provide disability leave for or FMLA for, or a lot of people now are taking advantage of New York State paid family leave, which is caring for a loved one that has a health condition or most commonly, the maternity paternity benefit that comes with child bonding.
Emily Martin With that, you need to understand based on your business size and the employee's length of service and different things like that, what you're required to provide and what the employee is eligible for. So we won't go into the really detailed nuance of it in this video because that would probably be boring. But there is a really great we've mentioned it in some other videos, PDF on my website allow our partners with a chart.
Emily Martin So at least if you're a New York City employer, it breaks down all the different obligations side by side, comparing them to one another, eligibility wise, benefit wise, all of that. So no, at least what you need to do at first.
Jen Strait And I suggest going to that right now, pausing the video, go and find that and just print it out, put it in your office and have it because it's a great reference to have. And when this comes up, you're going to be trying to find what we were talking about and it's going to kind of, you know, have a little bell that goes off.
Jen Strait This is something that you can refer to all the time, whether, like I said, hang it in your office or have it in your desk drawer, but it will be so convenient when an employee walks in and tells you a situation and you can kind of just say, we're.
Emily Martin Trying to make it a one pager is a lot. So it's probably printed on legal signs, but yeah, you can get.
Jen Strait It done as opposed to a legal size. Yes, we are. Talk about all the legalities here.
Emily Martin Soon there will be legal status, I'm sure. All right. So once you know what you need to do, kind of the second pointer that we want to give you is having a set plan. So there are a lot of obligations that come with these different leaves in terms of how much time in advance people need to give you notice or request or how much time you need to give employees to complete the paperwork, all these different rules.
Emily Martin But there are a lot of a lot of people don't understand or realize there are a lot of decisions that you can make as an employer to set up kind of an infrastructure or a policy structure for how you want to manage and administer the leave. So outlining some policies in advance, even in the handbook, and it's something that usually doesn't make it in the handbook when a lot of these providers that create very templated standard handbooks for clients, but really making sure that you outline in advance who they need to request leave from, what paperwork needs to be filled out, that kind of stuff.
Emily Martin But then other decisions too, that you need to make about if employees need to apply any accrued time off during unpaid portions of leave, requiring overlaps of leaves, also qualifying for disability and FMLA. Do they need to use both at the same time? Same with paid family leave in FMLA. Really good suggestion, but these are all decisions you should outline ahead of time so that when you enforce these things, you can point to the policy if an employee has an issue or tries to challenge them.
Jen Strait And I think it's a good point that there are decisions to be made. It's not always black or white of overlap or, you know, the procedures and policies like there are when you have a qualifying instance. But there are some things that you can overlap and some things that you can and you want it the same across the board.
Jen Strait You want it in your handbook. Because even if you have different H.R. people that come through, you don't want them giving you the employee's different answers. So you always want something that you can refer to that everybody is looking at, and there are no instances where they're getting different answers. And then one feels that they're getting a special treatment.
Jen Strait When it was an honest mistake. Sure.
Emily Martin Yeah. And one of the things actually that hits the payroll space quite a bit with this is making a decision about how you're going to handle different benefit premiums while an employee is on leave. This is a really good tip that it's probably worth its own weight in gold just because a lot of employers don't think about this.
Emily Martin So obviously, when an employee is on leave, they're not being payroll. It's for you as an employer. Right. So you're missing out on taking that employee's portion of their benefit deduction, whether it's medical, dental, vision, whatever it might be. And so where does that cost? You know, where that money come from then? Right. So you want to outline how employees have to pay for that when they're on leave and things like that.
Jen Strait Right. That's a great point because that's not something that anyone thinks about.
Emily Martin And that could be like a family plan, like $1,000 a month that you just end up eating. So that's significant, obviously. All right. So on that note, when you make these rules and set these policies, you want to make sure that all this is included in the documentation you provide when an employee request leave or when you designate leave and just on that note, you want to get the designated the documentation right in general.
Emily Martin So there is a ton again, a very specific required documentation for all leave types. So disability has its own paperwork and paperwork and write statements. You have to provide FMLA file. But in addition to that, it's really good to develop supplemental paperwork that outlines straight to the employee very clearly. Here's the obligations and the terms of the leave.
Emily Martin Here is the the responsibilities you have on leave to pay your premium, to use time off, whatever it might be. So establishing almost like a cover letter, John, that goes with the rest of the paperwork is really good and it just sets clear expectations, keeps things consistent. No one can argue that they didn't know about something upfront and just protects you in the long run.
Jen Strait And here's the thing it's hard for the person who's wearing the hat to get all of that done because there are different things that need to happen for PFO and FMLA and who you're reaching out to and what the employee signs first and what the employer signs and and who sends in the final paperwork, all of that. So it's a great reference for you to have it if you have your head on.
Jen Strait But if you think it's hard to keep track of all of that, the employee has almost yeah. Less than zero experience in it. So you really need to outline of, of what to do and you want to make it easy for the employee because if you don't make it easy for the employee, it gets it's going to be more work for you on the back.
Emily Martin And things, you know, be delayed. And that's never good in terms of attendance violations and all that stuff. So another really important note about documentation is that when you send documentation to employees, so even if you have verbal conversations where you give people paperwork in person or whatever might be always follow up in writing, it's extremely important that you document, you know, the date that the employee requested leave when you gave them the paperwork, all of that, because that can have huge implications later for whether or not you ignore the request or had to take a tenant's action if you never gave paperwork back.
Emily Martin So following up with the email that's has a read receipt so you can prove the employee, I'm sorry, prove that the employee received it or even sending a letter. Right. A lot of employees maybe don't use email. So sending a letter certified so you get proof of receipt is really important as well. Seems like overkill, but I'm telling you it can save you a ton of headaches.
Jen Strait Well, that's the thing you always talk about like on so many of these videos is documentation, documentation, documentation. And there are different ways that you can do that, whether it's having the employee sign something if they don't have email, because we do have some people who employees don't have, you know, or they're not good with computers and just don't have that capability.
Jen Strait Well, you can give something to them and have them sign it. You want anything you can possibly do to make sure that you can prove that they received it, that they understand it, and even have a clause in there that they understand. And there are next steps because again, you can't be chasing everybody if they have a next step of filling something out, but they know it's their next day.
Jen Strait No, it's in their hands.
Emily Martin And we've we've said money and money episodes are unfortunately pretty much guilty until proven innocent as an employer. So having that documentation or electronic stamp or something that shows proof of receipt or that you notified someone is you have to have that.
Jen Strait Yeah, it's going to save you. And like you said, it seems like overkill but.
Emily Martin Yeah little steps now save big having later.
Jen Strait Exactly it's going to be it would be more work for you than just having somebody sign it right there and then get in that and get in that habit of other things. I mean, I don't think employees think anything of it right now signing signing things that are policies in place. I mean, it's a New York state law in a lot of cases to have signed off on.
Jen Strait So.
Emily Martin All right. So other than that, the next point I want to make is just in.
Jen Strait Sorry. Sorry for interrupting. It's getting a little too obviously.
Emily Martin It's a little parched. We're a little parched and hot and going to start out. All right. So the first kind of tip here for, you know, leave best practices is not to retaliate. So this term retaliation, it's not an old word, but it's a new word, kind of newish word to the employment landscape. In the last few years, every single law that, you know, New York City or the federal government passing has basically a non retaliation provision which says you cannot retaliate against employees for exercising their protected rights and that includes their protected rights to take a request leave so the point is here, you want to be extremely mindful as the employer or even
Emily Martin your managers need to be very mindful that once an employee requests leave anything you do after that could be perceived if it's negative, could be perceived as retaliation for that leave request or taking leave. Because obviously it may not be a very popular saying with the employer that someone's taking time off, which is an inconvenience. So timing is everything here.
Emily Martin If you were considering taking giving someone a warning or something like that, definitely don't do it. Once they request believe you have to. I would reach out to a professional at that point and discuss your options from there, but timing will look bad in that situation, so make sure you're considering that and then just mindful of attitude. Jen Because we're all human, you know.
Jen Strait We all have attitudes.
Emily Martin Can be hard to not wear your emotions on your sleeve, but as an employer, as a manager, even if it's not ideal that someone is putting you in a situation when they're taking leave and they need to take the leave, you want to make sure that doesn't come out in your treatment on the employer employee. So make sure you still give them overtime like everybody else and treat them exactly the same way as before.
Jen Strait And I think it's important to keep in mind that you as a business owner are trying to protect your business. And there are some things that you have to do to go above and beyond to protect that. And it's the employee's interpretation of your tone, right? It's when it's perception of when they feel harassed or discriminated against or any of that.
Jen Strait So you want to make sure that you're being very clear. And again, any sort of documentation, any documentation with all employees, I don't care if it's your brother and you, you know, you have a brother and you're working with everyone because then it could not be your brother's issue. But then other employees that are going to claim discrimination, that you're treating your brother in a different way because he's not signing off on some policy.
Jen Strait It's all employees.
Emily Martin Go back to number two, which is creating that policy and plan and, you know, make sure that you're following.
Jen Strait I have my husband same policies all the time and be the dishwasher when that sounds smart, he's clear. I agree. I don't make be referred to the policy of the household.
Emily Martin I'm probably most of the people up there. Yeah. All right, John, final tip. Train your managers. So even if you're an H.R. person in the business, even if you're an owner watching this and you think you know the policies, you know the rules, you know the documentation, you know not to retaliate. Your managers need to know that, too, because as we've talked out in other episodes, they are basically the representation of your business.
Emily Martin Everything they do or don't do is you doing or not doing. It's the business and you're liable for everything they do. So they need to know to you know, refer people up if they're expressing a need for leave, not ignore it, not discipline for attendance, issues that clearly are things that someone who qualified for leave for and also obviously not to retaliate or harass employees for requesting leave or taking leave.
Jen Strait And that's the thing. You don't know what you don't know. And if you managers can be deferred to the owner as they are to employees. So this goes back to having quarterly even performance reviews to talk to your employees where there's a skip level. So now you're talking to the employees about their their manager. So they feel comfortable talking to you about it and feedback and even a very, you know, if it's possible, even having a couple people because that person may not feel comfortable talking to their manager who is you're his sister, right?
Jen Strait And then it's a little awkward. So just always having that open communication with different lines that don't seem to cross is very important.
Emily Martin To communicate expectations to everybody, including those managers who are the ones that are going to know about these issues. Employees have before you do, and so they know whether to flag it up the flagpole or not. So so that's a can. Simple five easy steps on how to manage you better. This stuff is so much more prevalent than ever.
Emily Martin It's also stuff that more and more claims are being filed about. So we'll have some follow up stuff in writing on on these tips as well. But make sure you take a look and take some action here.
Jen Strait It sounds good. We should thank our fans for being here. We get some fans back here. They're going to. It was so lame. I'm sorry. And someone did.
Emily Martin Some good job.
Jen Strait Right. Well, thank you for watching. Our unfiltered air series is starting to get more and more unfiltered as we progress. So thank you for watching. And thank you to Poplar Hill Estates and illuminating landscapes for hosting us on this beautiful venue. Yeah, and thank you, Patty, for the drinks and snacks that we have. Joe told us not to eat on camera, so, like, I immediately want to just start getting on camera and the sound thing out of the house.
Jen Strait So they really are like a little chipmunk. Anyway, thank you so much. Please, if you would like to join us for our next video, email us at unfiltered our complete payroll dot com any content suggestions request.
Emily Martin With any questions you have about this content or other episodes?
Jen Strait All of it. We would love to hear from you. Thank you so much.
Jen Strait And we'll see you again. Having a chance.

 

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