DMEC 2017 Employer Leave Management Survey - Compliance Complexity Encourages More Generous Private Leave Programs

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DMEC 2017 Employer Leave Management Survey indicates paid leave, outsourcing and supervisor training are key 2018 trends

"Family and other forms of paid leave have become a leading benefit to attract and retain employees who increasingly value work-life balance," said Terri L. Rhodes, Chief Executive Officer of DMEC.

The United States is one of a handful of countries in the world without a national paid leave law. Yet voluntary employer paid leave programs, as well as laws passed by states and localities, continue to expand the breadth and depth of paid leave for U.S. employees. These private and public initiatives, along with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), and other federal statutes, make for a daunting management challenge. All indications point to the fact it is a challenge that will become only more complex in the years ahead.

The results of the 2017 DMEC Employer Leave Management Survey, which includes information from over 1,200 employers of various sizes and industries, confirm that paid leave and outsourcing remain front and center for absence, disability, and Human Resources professionals.

Paid Leave. About one-third of companies surveyed are subject to state, municipal, and/or county paid sick leave (PSL) laws. Eighteen percent (18%) offer employer sponsored (separate from state mandated) paid family leave (PFL) or paid parental leave (PPL), of which about half provide PPL only.

A particularly interesting finding is the impact complex leave laws and regulations have on private leave programs. The need for compliance means it can be more efficient for many employers to offer leave programs that are more generous than the laws require. The lack of a uniform national leave law, and its replacement by a myriad of state and local laws, appears to be driving at least large employers to establish their own standards.

Outsourcing. As employer size increases, so does leave outsourcing. This is particularly the case for companies in the utilities/energy, telecommunications, and retail and wholesale industries. Employers with call center employees are more likely to outsource FMLA management (36%), compared to employers without a call center (18%). The propensity to outsource FMLA management also increases with the number of locations employers have. For example, 11% of those with five or fewer locations outsource FMLA, 23% of those with 6-20 locations outsource FMLA, 35% of those with 21-50 locations outsource FMLA, and 44% of those with more than 50 locations outsource FMLA.

When employers transition their leave management to a vendor, more provide a "history and a takeover" approach than take a "clean slate" approach. Larger employers (1,000+) are more likely to outsource short-term disability (STD), long-term disability (LTD), and statutory disability to the same vendor as leave. Smaller employers (under 1,000) more commonly outsource workers' compensation (WC), medical, employer assistance programs (EAPs), and wellness to the same vendor.

Employers continue to be satisfied with vendors managing their programs in a compliant manner. They are also increasingly satisfied with the vendor granting access to self-service information and reporting, providing data feeds, and identifying fraudulent activities.

Supervisor Training. Supervisors and other managers unfamiliar with the basics of leave laws and regulations are a leading driver of government enforcement actions. Employers of all sizes report difficulty training supervisors on leave requirements.

Education for managers is believed to be a good solution for this problem. Respondents especially favor mandatory and online training.

"Family and other forms of paid leave have become a leading benefit to attract and retain employees who increasingly value work-life balance," said Terri L. Rhodes, Chief Executive Officer of DMEC. "State and local laws are both driving and reinforcing underlying economic and social trends. Employers should continue to invest in the technology, vendor relationships and supervisor training to take advantage of these trends to hire and cultivate talented employees."

To obtain a copy of the 2017 DMEC Employer Leave Management Survey White Paper, please contact John Jordan at jjordan(at)principor(dot)com or 202.554.5796.

About the 2017 DMEC Employer Leave Management Survey
The Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) and Spring Consulting Group (Spring) have partnered since 2010 to conduct annual research on employer leave management. This year's survey, released at the 2017 DMEC Annual Conference, featured 75 questions and was completed by 1,203 employers who collectively represent all organizational sizes, U.S. states, and a broad range of industries.

About DMEC
The Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) is the only association dedicated to providing focused education, knowledge, and networking for absence and disability professionals. Through its education programs, DMEC delivers trusted strategies, tools, and resources to minimize lost work time, improve workforce productivity, and maintain legally compliant absence and disability programs. Visit http://www.dmec.org for more information.

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John Jordan
Principor Communications
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