The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 grants eligible employees unpaid, job protected leaves for medical or family reasons. Since then, it has become a crucial part of every employee benefits plan.
Traditionally, human resources must generate, sign and send employee forms in a very manual process. With the technological era accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, though, many businesses have shifted to a remote workforce. This inevitably demands the replacement of tedious, time consuming and paper based processes with a smart, digital format.
Read More: Why Paperless Employee Documents Are More Important Than Ever
The technological advancement provides a great opportunity to streamline FMLA requests. Manual processing of forms is prone to a lot of errors, which leads to delays. This results in a very frustrated HR team and unsatisfied employees.
Your organization should prioritize the digitization of FMLA requests in order to transform and improve its management.
Capitalize on Existing FMLA Forms
Employees can utilize the Department of Labor's forms to certify their need for leave, and employers can use them to deliver mandatory notices to employees. These are fillable PDFs that can be stored automatically after completion.
Employers, employees seeking leave, leave managers and health care providers will find the new customized forms simple and easy to understand. It has fewer questions requiring written responses, which were replaced by statements that could be filled by clicking a box. There are also electronic signature features to eliminate physical contact.
What Information Is Available?
Notice forms and certification forms available at the FMLA clearly outline which steps to follow, including when each must be used.
All FMLA notices are mandatory, including FMLA Designation Notice, FMLA General Employee Notice and FMLA Eligibility Notice. The new FMLA notice related to employees' leave and return to work is reorganized into seven topics, leading to greater clarity to details provided on each topic.
Optional Certifications are also available. With these, employers can collect the reasons for leave to determine qualification. Medical certifications do require the healthcare professional to provide the best estimate of the employee or their family member’s future medical care. The form also asks for an essential job function that the employee is unable to perform due to critical health status.
Finally, a Designation Notice can let employees know that their request is approved, and inform them of their amount of leave. A notable change in the designation form is the steps that an employee must take to amend an insufficient or incomplete certification.
The saving feature makes it easy to distribute, complete and store filled paperwork directly on the server or computer without printing and scanning them. They can be used to support document management for both onsite and remote workers. These forms can then be used as often as you need to.
It has freed the hassle of replenishing paper, worrying about using a noncompliant form and discarding outdated items. This is even eco friendly and minimizes social contact, a more pressing need during these times.
There is no required format for FMLA forms. As long as it collects the necessary information, even older documents can make do. Employers are capable of modifying and customizing these to their own needs. Therefore, compliance is not a big of a concern, and customization should be prioritized. Electronic documents are therefore easier to maintain and more convenient to update on an organization wide level.
Another convenient feature of digital FMLA forms is the highly customizable nature. They can vary in their purpose. One document can be a designation notice, while another notes the rights and responsibilities of employees. Because they do have a minimum requirement in what information it collects, HR can mix and match sections.
From there, you can easily customize forms as required to make them more suitable for your employees. If any modifications in the form are required, a single change in a digital template can save a lot of extra effort instead of printing new paperwork.
Simpler and Manageable
Considering the influx of FMLA requests that need to be processed by the HR team, it can get pretty hectic. As an employer, you must inform and educate all your employees on what they are entitled to. This requires sending a notice, updating and guiding them through the process.
All of this requires a streamlined system to simultaneously address all concerns. Digitizing helps HR teams manage the requests. It does not need extensive physical record keeping compared to a paper based process. It also simplifies distribution, and aids in collecting engagement metrics.
The form can be accessed and downloaded anytime from anywhere via secure web login once the account is activated. Authorized users such as managers and supervisors can be added as well. This way, permissions can be easily managed. Everyone who needs access can find the required documents at their convenience.
Improved Record Keeping
Most importantly, the digitalizing of FMLA forms saves up a lot of effort, energy, and resources to store and record the various requests. Paper based processes require physical space and extra care that is inevitably prone to human error. With such a great number of requests coming in each day, it is next to impossible for your HR team to process everything with perfection.
On the other hand, digital forms can be easily recorded without risk of misplacement or mistakes and also be organized according to urgency, type of request and employee eligibility. All of this allows the HR team to fully leverage the technological improvement and make the process hassle free for both parties.
These benefits are all the more reasons for you to shift to digital FMLA forms as soon as possible.