As businesses adapt to long-term remote working arrangements for their employees, managing disability leave becomes even more challenging.
Employees have many types of questions. Does disability leave cover mental health issues? Can I take pregnancy disability leave? How will a disability affect my job in an economically unstable time?
Read on to learn more about 5 disability leave management strategies that will help you build a healthier, more productive workplace for all your employees.
1. Integrate your health and wellness programs with disability management.
An integrated approach to health and wellness programs and disability management helps employees avoid unnecessary absences. They can connect to proactive care and assistance, including early identification and intervention when issues come up.
Many of the tools and resources for absence management and return-to-work programs overlap. You can implement best practices across all systems of employee support. You can also optimize and streamline your administrative structure.
Connecting health and wellness programs to disability management promotes a care-based work environment. It helps create awareness that disability doesn’t necessarily mean absences. The employment rate for people with disabilities remains lower than that of the general population.
You can demonstrate that opportunities to continue working remain open.
Employers use different management structures to coordinate disability leave. For employees, where they have to go for help impacts their experience.
Employees who have to go through their direct supervisor for disability leave often have higher levels of stress about the process. They may fear losing their job or facing retaliation.
A Morneau Shepell survey found that working with human resources instead of a direct supervisor led to improved communication while employees were on leave. Employees returned to work sooner. They reported feeling like their employer valued them.
3. Prioritize workplace accommodations.
The Americans with Disabilities Act generally requires that employers with 15 or more employees provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. However, workplace accommodations are about more than legal compliance.
Workplace accommodations help employees return to work sooner after disability leave and remain on the job. In many cases, accommodations are simple and cost little to nothing.
You’ll need to clearly identify and effectively manage any workplace accommodations. This will enable you to evaluate their effectiveness.
4. Communicate policy expectations and accountabilities clearly for disability management.
Once you define your policies for disability management, you need to communicate them clearly and repeatedly to employees at all levels of the organization. Employees should have easy access to information about eligibility and program requirements. Employees more likely to seek help sooner and are less likely to try to circumvent the system.
Remember that expectations and accountabilities apply to employees and leadership. Your messaging should include both groups. Transparency promotes a culture of accommodation and helps de-stigmatize disabilities.
Communication requires confidentiality. Employees expect that if they come forward for help, their employer isn’t going to examine their private lives and medical histories. The reporting and claims management systems you put in place must meet or exceed the requirements of privacy laws.
5. Invest in tracking and reporting.
Absence reporting systems that only provide lagging or snapshot data don’t help you identify risks early. Upgrading to a better software system will give you real-time tracking, reporting, and trend analysis capabilities. This lets you support employees in real-time.
Software that integrates disability management lets you track, report, and manage workplace incidents and workplace accidents. You can manage sick leave, disability benefits, and accommodations. This streamlines your case administration and improves communication among stakeholders.
Find partners to improve disability leave management at your workplace. Contact vocational legal experts.
Better disability leave management increases employee morale and boosts your business’s productivity. If you’re not sure where to start, the vocational experts at Solutions Northwest Inc. can help. We specialize in Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodation issues, disability and injury management, and worker compensation.
Contact us to start developing the system that helps your employees stay at work, not just return to work.
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