By Don Boutin, senior vice president
Remember when we were kids and absences from school were accepted with a simple note from mom?
Fast forward to our adult work environment and absences have become a bit more complex. Employers are monitoring an array of sick days, paid time off, medical and family leave, disability leave, flex schedules, bereavement time and military service — all governed by federal and state regulations that are in a constant state of change.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is now 21 years old, and it has spawned 179 state leave protections — and nearly that many more in various stages of creation and debate.
Back in 2000, the complexity of managing FMLA leave prompted one of our clients to ask for help, and the result was the first generation of Unum’s Leave Management Services.
Our expertise in this area continues to deepen as we expand and adapt our services to better meet our clients’ needs.
By January, our 200-plus employees on the Leave Management Services team will be supporting more than 400 client groups, representing approximately 1.3 million employees. We’ve seen double-digit growth in these services in recent years and expect continued expansion as employers seek additional help.
Changes in the regulatory environment keep the demand for information and services high. The ruling earlier this summer that a section of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional started a domino effect of state changes and court challenges to same-sex marriage laws. The dominoes keep tipping.
In October, our in-house legal expert on FMLA, senior counsel Angela Ripper, and a leading attorney from the U.S. Department of Labor provided an update on FMLA through DMEC’s Virtual Education Forum. And in November, Unum senior counsel Betsy Stivers took the lead for an update on the Americans with Disabilities Act and its amendments.
This summer we expanded leave services for clients to include consultation and evaluation related to the ADAAA. Unum’s commitment to ADA support is unmatched in the industry, and we’ve created the most comprehensive service to meet the varying needs of our clients and their employees.
Leave management can be tricky, and we know that a simple note from mom is not going to help employers with their obligations. As all aspects of leave management become more complex, we’re working tirelessly to build out our capabilities so clients can benefit from our expertise and understanding of employee leave.