HR professionals are on the front lines of the need for, and implementing requirements around, paid family leave. Given the uncertainty at the federal level in the policy area of paid family leave (PFL), with a recent proposal being floated that would open up workers’ social security benefits for them to “borrow” against their own federal retirement benefits to fund their current PFL time, it’s no wonder that states are stepping in to fill what they see as a gap in employees’ very real and unmet needs in this area. The results are creating significant business, compliance and human resources challenges in implementing a patchwork of legal requirements across the United States.
As we observe the most recent law coming into effect in January of 2018 in New York, it’s important to consider how operationalizing legal requirements for paid family leave is not as simple as it seems. These are some of the challenging issues that must be resolved by HR:
- Alignment of current paid leave programs such as PTO, short-term disability benefits, FMLA, and sick leave with the state and local requirements
- Updating technological systems such as payroll programs and solutions for those in affected states so that accruals, usage and notifications are compliant with the law
- Changing processes, documentation and protocols for leave requests so that legal requirements are fulfilled
- Training HR, management and others on new processes and requirements
- Ensuring that sufficient staff capacity is available to handle state-based processing requirements
- Recognizing the complex situations that arise where state, local and federal law, as well as collective bargaining agreements and other requirements create the potential for complying with one set up requirements but violating another, and coming up with ways to avert this risk
- Building the internal expertise and relationships across siloed departments to effectively handle novel issues that may arise, in a way that treats employees like human beings and not problems
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