Paid-leave and parental-leave policies are becoming increasingly common, either through states with leave policies in place or offered as part of employment packages. These can provide many welcome benefits, including retaining top-tier talent. However, temporary or long-term holes in staffing will likely have a broad impact on a business.
Now researchers have published a study that looks at the impact of these increasingly common extended leaves of two or more weeks by members in teams or workgroups. The study surveyed 310 employees and found:
- Nearly half of the remaining staff felt additional stress or found it difficult to complete their own work
- One-third put in overtime or worked longer hours to cover the slack
- Employers typically did not provide temporary replacements or outsource the work
Strategies for addressing these policies
The study goes on to provide strategies for addressing issues and concerns while still being compliant with FMLA and other laws. The overall theme is to be mindful of maintaining continuity, particularly with positions that are mission critical:
- Prioritize the mission-critical roles and then look at covering tasks
- Tailor these decisions based on the amount of time the employee is on leave
- Provide a clear statement for how contingency plans will cover the work (options include contract labor or cross-training staff)
- Consider opportunities for mutually beneficial accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Finding solutions that work
Each business has its own staffing challenges. Working with an experienced employment law attorney can be an effective way to address these leave and provide useful strategies for minimizing the impact on employee productivity and morale.