As states adopt paid family leave laws and confusion grows about implementing those benefits among employers and employees, Unum saw an opportunity. The insurer and employee benefit provider just announced that it purchased leave management technology provider LeaveLogic earlier this year for an undisclosed sum.
By offering the cloud-based LeaveLogic solution to its employer clients, Unum hopes to educate employees about their paid family leave rights while assisting HR executives in managing a worker’s leave from request to planning and eventual return.
Unum will offer LeaveLogic’s software-as-a-service solution to its clients, and LeaveLogic will continue to sell to new clients and offer updates to current customers. LeaveLogic will retain its name, five employee team and the look-and-feel of its software.
Because paid family leave laws vary from state to state, it causes confusion among employees and employers with workers in multiple regions, explains Anna Steffeney, founder and CEO of LeaveLogic. Unum recognized that this uncertainty created an opportunity to offer a solution that works with its suite of tools.
“Unum had discussions with employers especially in New York, and employers said they needed help administering paid family leave,” she says. ‘They said, ‘Our employees are asking questions we can’t always answer.’”
“Many employers have employees working in states with different policies, and we can standardize the employee experience so every employee can come in and learn about their leave in the exact same way,” Steffeney says, “but they will only get the information that is pertinent to their benefit category or in-state program. We look at family leave holistically from an employee perspective.”
LeaveLogic’s solution — which costs 50 cents to $1 per employee per month depending on the size of the workforce — provides a schedule for HR directors and employees to set up a paid leave and return-to-work plan of action. It also features reminders via text messaging and e-mails on the multiple tasks that must be accomplished as the employee’s leave date approaches.
Employees can access the software the same way they access their employee benefits, such as their web portal. Although Unum predicts employees will most likely access the information via their workplace desktop PC or tablet, a mobile version for smartphones is in the works for later this year.
Leaving complex steps behind
Unum found that employees spend up to 40 hours in their first attempt to set up a paid family leave. Employees usually ask friends and co-workers for information before contacting their company’s HR department.
“It’s very common that an HR resource is spending hours with an employee helping them understand what they’re eligible for in terms of time off, what their job protection is, if they will get paid for that time off, and for how long and when they’ll need to come back to work in order to not risk their job,” says Don Boutin, senior vice president, national client group of Unum.
With LeaveLogic, employees can go online, enter their information, learn about their options and then share that info with a manager or with HR to get feedback or sign off on the request, he says.
“HR was really the one having to educate the employee, and the employee could have had concerns about how much they want to actually share with HR, so this gives that employee access to the information,” Boutin says.
LeaveLogic also reminds the employee on maternity or paternity leave to provide HR with a newborn’s birth certificate and new Social Security number. If the leave is for a medical procedure, the software reminds the employee to obtain a physical and note from the doctor stating that the employee is healthy enough to resume work.
Paid family leave touches on different factors that have an impact on today’s workplace: the employer’s desire to retain talented workers, a younger workforce that values work-life balance and the government’s desire for fair labor practices, Steffeney explains.
“The caregiving responsibilities of employees were already large and they’ve gotten bigger,” Steffeney says. Helping employees easily navigate leave, whether it’s for a personal or medical situation, “is a wonderful way to provide understanding to that employee and then increase the likelihood that they’re going to return.
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