March 2021

Employment Practices Compliance

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically shifted workplace strategy, compliance requirements, and absence management practices for organizations large and small. This issue of @Work magazine dives into the pandemic’s permanent impact, vaccine policies, the growing importance of paid family and medical leave, and much more.

Features

COVID-19’s Permanent Impact on the Workplace

As we start to see the potential to bring COVID-19 under control through vaccinations and other measures, let’s reflect on how COVID-19 has changed the workplace, in some ways permanently. Read more.

Do Restrictions on Accrued Sick Banks or PTO Comply with the FMLA?

As healthcare organizations struggle with increased unscheduled absences, they have begun freezing accrued sick bank plans and replacing them with more traditional short-term disability (STD) plans. Can employers require employees to exhaust their sick banks before STD kicks in and maintain compliance with FMLA section 825.207? Read more.

Spotlight Articles

ESIS

Program Showcase: Vaccine Policies

Through considerable and coordinated global efforts, vaccines have emerged as much-needed tools that may lead to long-term solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we look ahead, vaccination must be factored into any workplace policy strategy. Read more.

Compliance Showcase: Managing PFML

It is important for employers to take stock of their state and national employee base and determine their priorities for effective management of PFML requirements. Equally critical is achieving a consistent employee experience and leveraging vendor partners when incorporating state programs into overall benefit offerings. Read more.

RTW Showcase: Defining Essential Workers

Essential workers have been at the forefront of the U.S. COVID-19 pandemic response since March 2020. However, what defines essential is a mixed bag. As a result, employers often have no clear “bright lines” for decisions that may expose the organization and employees to health or litigation risks. Read more.

Columns

Optis

Absence Matters: Interactive Process with Higher Risk Employees

Employees with these underlying conditions could request an ADA accommodation to reduce their elevated COVID-19 risk, particularly if their jobs must be performed at the workplace. Even during a pandemic, the employer is obligated to engage in an interactive dialogue with the employee making the request. Read more.

Integrated Absence Management: Virtual Enrollment

The year 2020 was like no other for benefits enrollment. With little advance planning, companies embarked on a fully virtual approach. We learned lessons about how planning, communication, and partnership improve virtual enrollment. Read more.

Engaging Today’s Workforce: Employer Paid Leave Policies

The COVID-19 pandemic has further illuminated the many uncertainties in life that make employer-offered paid leave important. Whether it’s caring for a sick family member, bereavement, or teaching a child from home, employees have needed time off from their professional lives more than ever. Read more.

Employer Solutions: A Cautious Comeback

As the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccines arrive, the march toward “normalcy” cautiously proceeds. Employers need to understand whether they can require vaccination, the accommodations required when employees refuse to be vaccinated, and the confidentiality issues surrounding on-site health screenings and sick employees. Read more.

Featured Case: Placing a Pregnant Employee on Leave

A case from Georgia, Jawana Scott v. Social Involvement Missions, Inc., provides good lessons for employers about how not to deal with pregnant employees. Read more.

IAM Technology Tips: Addressing Uncertainty

Amidst all the recent uncertainty and acts of nature — the COVID-19 pandemic, hurricanes, record-breaking wildfires, and extreme winter weather — one thing must occur. Employers must plan. This planning should focus on flexing for uncertainty, also known as business continuity planning. Read more.

Leave Management By the Numbers: Leave Math at FISD

The fast-growing Frisco Independent School District (FISD) is the largest employer in Frisco, Texas. FISD decided several years ago to take a technology-based approach to leave management. Using these capabilities, FISD recently completed a thorough leave program review. Read more.

Common Sense Compliance: Pandemic Law Trends

COVID-19 has prompted federal agencies as well as state, city, and county lawmakers to adopt extensive requirements to ensure workplace safety — significantly expanding compliance mandates on many employers. Read more.

RTW & Disability: How Accommodations Add Value

Are you prepared to explain the value of accommodations under the ADA to people in your organization? Providing positive, on-the-spot answers to line managers, coworkers, and others can lay the foundation for a positive accommodation culture at your organization, secure cooperation of others, and help your organization comply with the ADA. Read more.

The Disabled Workforce: Managing Accommodation Requests

As employers ask employees to return to the workplace from working remotely, many are receiving requests for reasonable accommodation, especially requests to work from home. How do you manage this influx of requests? The answer is to build a robust, compliant program that is in line with your organization’s philosophy. Read more.

Departments

DMEC's FMLA/ADA Training for Supervisors and Managers

The CEO’s Desk: PFML – A Corporate Asset

Historically, epidemics have caused large shifts in the balance of power between labor and management, with wage increases and other perks for workers. Given the shortage in skilled labor, providing paid family and medical leave may be one of your company’s less expensive tools to increase employee retention and productivity. Read more.

Employer Perspective: What I Learned in My First Two Years

In this new feature, explore two straightforward concepts that have supported Perry Pearsall — HR Analyst at Puget Sound Energy — during his first two years in absence management. Read more.

DMEC News: March 2021

DMEC and Spring Consulting Group have partnered for the tenth year to conduct annual research on employer leave management. This year’s report highlights trends and employer perspectives on regulatory leaves, non-regulatory leaves, and state paid leave programs. It also reviews practical application of return to work, accommodations, and plan design benchmarks. Read more.

Compliance Memos: March 2021

The March 2021 compliance memos cover a marijuana legalization update, employee vaccination status requests, and a recent failure-to-accommodate case that was decided in the employer’s favor. Read more.

Compliance Memos_July 2016