2021 DMEC Virtual Compliance Conference

Session and Speaker Agenda

Absence and disability professionals have the daily responsibility to mitigate risk for their organizations through the effective management of their Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Americans with Disabilities (ADA) programs. Complex questions and challenges arise that require compliant solutions. The 2021 DMEC Virtual Compliance Conference, Wednesdays in March 2021, will provide the answers you need to confidently address these issues and become the leave expert in your organization.

Over the course of five days, we will be utilizing a combination of live video platforms to create dynamic interaction with speakers, virtual networking for attendees, and opportunities to chat with and learn more about various vendor solutions in the marketplace.

Register Today

We are offering a single registration option that allows access to all live events and networking as well as on-demand access to the session recordings post-event. Reserve your spot today!

DMEC members receive discounted pricing for the event. Not sure if your organization is a member? Follow these steps to add your company affiliation and verify your DMEC membership status.

Connect Through Compliance

Wednesday, Mar. 3 | 11:00 am-5:00 pm ET

The Legal Landscape

11:00-11:15 am – Welcome & Opening Remarks

Presenters:
Kevin Curry, Board Chairman, DMEC
Terri L. Rhodes, Chief Executive Officer, DMEC

11:15-11:45 am – Hindsight Is 2020: FFCRA Lessons Learned

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) FMLA Branch Chief Helen M. Applewhaite will provide expert insight into the DOL’s approach to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA provided critical regulatory guiderails for employers navigating the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. This session will explore the development, management, and continued evolution of the act to help employers better understand the foundational approach to and administration of this important regulation. What elements of the swiftly passed law worked well, what didn’t, and where do we go from here as we continue to navigate the pandemic.

Invited Presenter:
Helen M. Applewhaite, Director, Division of FMLA and Section 14(c), Office of Policy, Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor

11:45 am-12:15 pm – Virtual Exhibit Hall Visits

The 2021 DMEC Virtual Compliance Conference features sponsors and exhibitors with a wide range of solutions for your organization. Visit conference sponsor and exhibitor profiles for the opportunity to browse available products, services, and resources, chat with their representatives, and discuss your specific needs. Representatives will be available to chat with you during scheduled exhibit hall visits.

12:15-1:15 pm – Break
1:15-2:15 pm – Politics, the Pandemic, and the Future of Leave: How to Plan for What’s Coming

Join us for a discussion on how recent political events and the continuing pandemic could further impact leave of absence legislation as well as employer absence policies and programs. We’ll discuss what changes might be coming, and how should employers adapt their absence strategies to prepare for the future.

Presenters:
Ashlee Brennan, JD, Senior Compliance Counsel, ReedGroup
Carla O’Sullivan, Senior Compliance Manager, ReedGroup
Sheri Pullen, Senior Compliance Manager, ReedGroup

2:15-2:45 pm – Virtual Exhibit Hall Visits

The 2021 DMEC Virtual Compliance Conference features sponsors and exhibitors with a wide range of solutions for your organization. Visit conference sponsor and exhibitor profiles for the opportunity to browse available products, services, and resources, chat with their representatives, and discuss your specific needs. Representatives will be available to chat with you during scheduled exhibit hall visits.

2:45-3:15 pm – Break
3:15-4:15 pm – Paid Family and Medical Leave: What Does the Future Hold?

Paid family and medical leave (PFML) laws continue expanding at a rapid pace, and they are changing the American workplace. Currently, nine states and the District of Columbia have PFML programs, with several more states considering legislation. In 2020, we saw the first federal paid family leave mandate in the COVID-19 relief legislation. To understand where we are going, we need to understand where we are now. In this session, we will review current paid family and medical leave laws that have been enacted at the federal, state, and local levels as well as proposed legislation for 2021 and beyond. We will discuss the differences between the state PFML programs and the private plan options, and how PFML claims differ from traditional short- and long-term disability claims. We will also offer insights into how the new PFML laws that offer job protected leave are affecting the workplace.

Presenters:
Jonathan Kemp, Associate Director, Product Management, Sun Life
Marjory Robertson, JD, AVP & Senior Counsel, Sun Life

4:15-5:00 pm – Virtual Opening Welcome Reception

Kick start your conference experience with a chance to connect virtually with old friends and fellow attendees at the opening welcome reception.Sponsored by Sedgwick

Wednesday, Mar. 10 | 11:00 am-4:45 pm ET

Return-to-Work Best Practices

11:00-11:30 am – Coffee & Conversation

Start your day connecting with your colleagues over coffee and great conversation.

Sponsored by Morgan, Brown & Joy

11:30-11:45 am – Opening Announcements

Presenter:
Kristin Jones, CLMS, PHR, SHRM-CP, Senior Education Manager, DMEC

11:45 am-12:45 pm – ADA and COVID-19: How to Handle Accommodations When Returning to the Workplace

As many employers approach the one-year mark of remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are tasked with determining what’s next for their employees. Employers are considering what a return to the workplace will look like, and critically, what types of accommodations will be requested by employees. In this session, we will tackle the legal and employee relations concerns at play when deciding which employees will be required to return to the office; how to handle employee requests to continue remote work as an accommodation; and whether or not to implement a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. We will also provide a checklist of considerations to take back to your organization and apply to your own unique situations.

Presenters:
Angie Brown, CPDM, Absence Practice Leader, ClaimVantage
Lynne Sousa, JD, Leave Management Compliance Counsel, ClaimVantage

12:45-1:45 pm – Break
1:45-2:45 pm – The Playbook: Return-to-Work Strategies and Tactics

An effective return-to-work program can be integral to retain valued employees and to enhance workforce productivity. However, such programs can be difficult to manage along with all of the other important tasks leave professionals and supervisors are responsible for each day. In this session, we will underscore the value of developing a written return-to-work policy and discuss key program components including company commitment, communication, and job descriptions. We will also explain and discuss the role the interactive process plays within such initiatives.

Presenters:
Joanne Bhatti, Senior Project Manager, Sedgwick
Adam Morell, Director, National Technical Compliance – ADA Accommodations, Sedgwick

2:45 am-3:15 pm – Virtual Exhibit Hall Visits

The 2021 DMEC Virtual Compliance Conference features sponsors and exhibitors with a wide range of solutions for your organization. Visit conference sponsor and exhibitor profiles for the opportunity to browse available products, services, and resources, chat with their representatives, and discuss your specific needs. Representatives will be available to chat with you during scheduled exhibit hall visits.

3:15-3:45 pm – Break
3:45-4:15 pm – Quick-Dive: The Future of Our Industry

The COVID-19 pandemic required lightning-fast responses to workplace safety, remote work, emergency legislation, unprecedented accommodation levels, and so much more. As we look ahead, what can we expect the “next normal” to be? Join our industry experts as they gaze into their crystal balls and share their predictions for the future of the absence and disability management industry.

Panelists:
Bryon Bass, CLMS, Senior Vice President, Workforce Absence, Sedgwick
Dan Iskra, AVP, Group Disability & Absence Product Development, MetLife
Sheri Pullen, Senior Compliance Manager, ReedGroup

Moderator:
Terri L. Rhodes, Chief Executive Officer, DMEC

4:15-4:45 pm – Ask the Experts: Industry Vendors

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to ask industry vendor experts about their absence management products and services. This live interactive discussion between attendees and our vendor panelists allows audience members to ask questions that may arise during the absence management product and service selection process.

4:15-4:45 pm – Virtual Exhibit Hall Visits

The 2021 DMEC Virtual Compliance Conference features sponsors and exhibitors with a wide range of solutions for your organization. Visit conference sponsor and exhibitor profiles for the opportunity to browse available products, services, and resources, chat with their representatives, and discuss your specific needs. Representatives will be available to chat with you during scheduled exhibit hall visits.

Wednesday, Mar. 17 | 11:00 am-4:45 pm ET

Challenges in the Evolving Workplace

11:00-11:15 am – Opening Announcements

Presenter:
Kristin Jones, CLMS, PHR, SHRM-CP, Senior Education Manager, DMEC

11:15 am-12:15 pm – A Deep Dive Into Job Protection: What Does It Really Mean?

Those in leave of absence often use the term “job protection,” but what does it really mean? In some cases, the law spells it out. The FMLA requires an employer to restore the employee to the same or an “equivalent” job. The ADA holds employers to a higher standard; the employee must be returned to the same position, in the absence of undue hardship. But what about the many other statutory leaves that aren’t as explicit, and which may fall within a grey area? Even murkier, what are an employer’s obligations to restore an employee who takes a company leave, such as vacation or sick leave? We will explore the nuances of job protection, from sticky FMLA and ADA cases, to newly-enacted state and local laws, to the sometimes confusing doctrines surrounding employer-provided plans.

Presenters:
Daris Freeman, JD, Assistant Vice President, Legal Counsel, Unum
David Mohl, JD, Attorney at Law, Jackson Lewis, PC
Lori Welty, Esq, Absence Management Sr. Compliance Attorney, FINEOS

Moderator:
Megan Holstein, Esq, SVP Absence and Claims Product, FINEOS

12:15-12:45 pm – Virtual Exhibit Hall Visits

The 2021 DMEC Virtual Compliance Conference features sponsors and exhibitors with a wide range of solutions for your organization. Visit conference sponsor and exhibitor profiles for the opportunity to browse available products, services, and resources, chat with their representatives, and discuss your specific needs. Representatives will be available to chat with you during scheduled exhibit hall visits.

12:45-1:45 pm – Break
1:45-2:45 pm – Compliance Considerations in a Work from Home Environment

We know first-hand how working from home has added complexity to your day-to-day operations. Add on top of this a continuous development of regulations related to paid leave, unpaid leave, and the ADA. Suddenly, your HR Department is inundated. We want to help! Join our roundtable discussion where we will discuss best practices for implementing compliance considerations for employers just like you.

Presenters:
Joanne Archer, Assistant Vice President of Account Management Group Protection, Lincoln Financial Group
Sarah Montgomery, JD, Assistant Vice President and Senior Counsel Group Protection, Lincoln Financial Group

2:45-3:15 pm – Hot-Topic Roundtable Discussions

Join your peers for small-group discussions on hot topics in the industry. Share challenges, opportunities, and best practices from your organization.

3:15-3:45 pm – Virtual Exhibit Hall Visits

The 2021 DMEC Virtual Compliance Conference features sponsors and exhibitors with a wide range of solutions for your organization. Visit conference sponsor and exhibitor profiles for the opportunity to browse available products, services, and resources, chat with their representatives, and discuss your specific needs. Representatives will be available to chat with you during scheduled exhibit hall visits.

3:45-4:15 pm – Break
4:15-4:45 pm – Quick-Dive: Top Remote Work Moments of 2020

In this entertaining and engaging session, we’ll take a look at the telework highlight reel of 2020. Teleworking gave us great insight into how to connect more deeply with clients and customers we previously didn’t see enough of face to face. It gave us the opportunity to show our co-workers that we are all searching for that elusive work-home life balance. And last, but sadly not least, it also taught us some important things to keep in mind about accidentally sharing too much information. Join us as we look at what worked really well and what should be avoided… like the plague!

Presenter:
Katharine C. Weber, Esq, Principal and Co-Leader of Disability, Leave and Health Management Practice Group, Jackson Lewis PC

Wednesday, Mar. 24 | 11:00 am-4:45 pm ET

Leaves of Absence: What’s Changed?

11:00-11:15 am – Opening Announcements

Presenter:
Kristin Jones, CLMS, PHR, SHRM-CP, Senior Education Manager, DMEC

11:15 am-12:15 pm – Who Needs Leave for What? How the COVID-19 Pandemic Is Reshaping Employer Leave & Accommodation Challenges

We said goodbye to 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic continues to march forward. Pressures on families and employers are unprecedented and flexible leave and work policies have never been more important. Employees need and want more leave and for different reasons than ever before. After experiencing an unanticipated expansion of federal, state, and local leave and accommodation obligations, employers are now faced with a new challenge. How do we return to full productivity while addressing these new employee expectations? The White House’s legislative and regulatory agenda — will national paid leave be passed, will the FFCRA be resurrected or expanded, etc. — may further complicate this challenge. During this session, we will discuss the evolving complexities of leaves and accommodations as employers move into a second “pandemic” year and suggest “lessons learned” that may help them return to “better” rather than “normal.”

Presenters:
Francis P. Alvarez, Esq, Principal and Co-Leader of Disability, Leave and Health Management Practice Group, Jackson Lewis PC
Sheri L. Giger, Esq, Principal and Co-Leader of Disability, Leave and Health Management Practice Group, Jackson Lewis PC
David S. Mohl, Esq, Principal, Jackson Lewis PC

12:15-12:45 pm – Virtual Exhibit Hall Visits

The 2021 DMEC Virtual Compliance Conference features sponsors and exhibitors with a wide range of solutions for your organization. Visit conference sponsor and exhibitor profiles for the opportunity to browse available products, services, and resources, chat with their representatives, and discuss your specific needs. Representatives will be available to chat with you during scheduled exhibit hall visits.

12:45-1:45 pm – Break
1:45-2:45 pm – Pandemic Effect on Employee Leave Usage – What Do the Numbers Show?

Absences from work in the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic started as early as February 2020. Now with a year under our belt, we’ll take a look at what effects the pandemic has had on employee leaves of absence. Using Matrix’s historical leave statistics, we will analyze questions such as: did employee usage of traditional FMLA change during the pandemic; what types of utilization caused the spikes and valleys of leave usage during the first 12 months of the pandemic; and have employers adopted new policies or practices to deal with quarantines and school closures. We will compare leave usage (incidence rates, reasons for absence, and durations) prior to the pandemic and during, see what effect the surges in infection rates have had, and look at industry, gender, and other differences in leave rates. And finally, we will discuss what lessons might be learned for the duration of COVID-19 or for a future pandemic.

Presenters:
Marti Cardi, JD, Vice President, Product Compliance, Matrix Absence Management, Inc
Suzanne Wilson, MBA, Vice President, Reporting & Analytics, Matrix Absence Management, Inc

2:45-3:15 pm – Dessert & Conversation

Enjoy a sweet treat on DMEC while connecting with your industry colleagues.

Sponsored by Shaw HR Consulting, Inc

3:15-3:45 pm – Break
3:45-4:45 pm – Ask the Experts

Our popular “Ask the Experts” session allows conference attendees to submit their most challenging questions to our panel of distinguished FMLA/ADA legal experts. You provide the uncensored questions, and they provide the unfiltered answers. This interactive discussion between attendees and panelists allows audience members to have their “real-world” questions answered by the specialists. Come prepared with your toughest questions and the most perplexing challenges faced by your company. And best of all, there will be no billable hours or consulting fees incurred!

Panelists:
Marti Cardi, JD, Vice President, Product Compliance, Matrix Absence Management, Inc
Marjory Robertson, JD, AVP & Senior Counsel, Sun Life
Lori Welty, Esq, Absence Management Sr. Compliance Attorney, FINEOS

Moderator:
Kristin Jones, CLMS, PHR, SHRM-CP, Senior Education Manager, DMEC

Wednesday, Mar. 31 | 11:00 am-4:45 pm ET

Connect Through Compliance

11:00-11:30 am – A Mindful Moment

Join us on the final morning of the conference for our workplace wellness session. Ruth Wolever, PhD will will lead attendees through a mindfulness practice that can be applied at home or in the office. Make every moment matter with the resources to continue mindfulness practices that can be applied to the everyday moments of life.

Presenter:
Ruth Wolever, PhD, Chief Science Officer, eMindful

11:30-11:45 am – Opening Announcements

Presenter:
Kristin Jones, CLMS, PHR, SHRM-CP, Senior Education Manager, DMEC

11:45 am-12:45 pm – Compliance Transformation: A People-Centered Approach for Better Compliance Outcomes

Today’s organizations are faced with complex challenges as markets, technology, and employee expectations shift and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to bring uncertainty. While this reality is forcing many leaders to reevaluate business priorities and the future direction of their organizations, it should also require a strong focus on employee engagement, physical and mental health, and a critical review of compliance programs that may be falling short. Gone are the days when “one-size-fits-all” approaches — that don’t account for evolving legislation and individual needs — prove to be effective solutions.

In this session, we will discuss how organizations can focus on their employees as individuals and address their needs and how that can ultimately enhance their compliance programs. We will also share best practices for building a more inclusive and compassionate culture, tips to engage all employees, coaching at all levels of leadership, and effective programs that improve compliance outcomes.

Presenters:
Melissa Oliver-Janiak, Esq, Sr. Director Benefits and HR Service Center, The Standard
Lara Robertson, Sr. Director Talent Management Services, Human Resources, The Standard

12:45-1:45 pm – Break
1:45-2:45 pm – Using Technology to Support Employees’ Behavioral Health & Wellness

The role technology plays in helping employees recover and return safely to work can also help employers create more effective wellness programs, which is particularly important now with the lingering impacts from COVID-19. To help your workforce recover and return to work, it’s important to understand both the physical and mental conditions someone may be facing, and develop strategies for prevention and intervention.

Text mining is one way tool that can be used to identify employees who may need extra behavior health support and services to aid their recovery from a disability. This targeted technology picks up on certain “flags” in claims communications and other correspondence that can trigger a referral for additional support. Complementing that technology — and even in the absence of it — is the need to ensure that managers have the education and awareness to understand the signs as well. In this session, we will provide an overview of the effects of behavioral health issues on absence durations, how text mining works, and best practices for identifying common issues to support your training and wellness programs.

Presenters:
Adele Spallone, VP, Clinical Operations, The Hartford
Kimberly Mashburn, National Accounts Practice Lead, The Hartford

2:45-3:15 pm – Virtual Exhibit Hall Visits

The 2021 DMEC Virtual Compliance Conference features sponsors and exhibitors with a wide range of solutions for your organization. Visit conference sponsor and exhibitor profiles for the opportunity to browse available products, services, and resources, chat with their representatives, and discuss your specific needs. Representatives will be available to chat with you during scheduled exhibit hall visits.

3:15-3:45 pm – Break
3:45-4:30 pm – Closing Keynote: Change Is Our Proof of Life

Did you know you are six times more likely to demonstrate strong resilience if you can identify your own autonomy and choice in the middle of change? Change is an inevitable part of life. Whether the change is something you have chosen, or it has chosen you, the one thing you always have is a choice.

New York Times Bestselling Author, Humanitarian, and Survivor, Jessica Buchanan will share the dramatic story of her rescue by SEAL Team Six after being held hostage by Somali Pirates and will show you how to become a collaborator with change and create the strategies you need to survive and thrive. Through the lessons she learned during her 93-day captivity, Jessica will show you how to build a collaborative mindset that empowers you to optimize change and will walk you through moments that invite contemplation; create a new definition of change; and launch you into a space of abundant growth through acceptance and determination.

Keynote Presenter
Jessica Buchanan, New York Times Bestselling Author, Humanitarian, and Survivor

4:30-4:45 pm – Closing Remarks and Grand Prize Giveaway

Sponsored by Allsup