2019 DMEC Compliance Conference Recap
With 673 absence professionals attending, the 2019 DMEC FMLA/ADA Employer Compliance Conference achieved more than “a new record;” it sailed past last year’s attendance of 474 by more than 40%.
Many conference attendees said that Portland, OR, was a convenient location. But for most, the search for professional solutions to the growing complexity of federal and state compliance was the primary driver.
The event kicked off with preconference sessions dedicated to a range of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and accommodation topics. After that, sessions, roundtable discussions, “ask the expert” opportunities, and networking events helped “first-timers” and “long-timers” alike to network, compare notes, and come away with successful best practices and practical tips to implement in their organizations. Over the course of 3 ½ days, speakers shared their expertise and answered specific questions professionals brought to the conference, and several over-arching themes emerged.
The ADA: Large Gray Areas Remain
The one thing we confidently know about the ADA is that we always need to know more. While many absence professionals are successfully engaging employees in the interactive process and developing effective return-to-work programs, the areas of the ADA that remain undefined create particular challenges.
Leave as an accommodation, whether intermittent or ongoing, was highlighted in several sessions as it proves difficult for employers to manage without a clear rulebook on when and for how long leave needs to be accommodated as part of the process.
Speakers urged employers to consistently follow the basics when reviewing and managing these types of requests, whether that means ensuring medical documentation includes adequate information or clear communication (and enforcement) with the employee about what is required when a leave is requested and taken.
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