5 ways to adapt your paid leave program for COVID-19 challenges
Cracks are starting to show in paid leave programs due to the challenges posed by a global pandemic. But employers can take steps to modernize their policies for a post-COVID world.
“The pandemic will likely have a lasting impact on the future of work,” says Rich Fuerstenberg, senior partner at Mercer. “Now is the time for employers to consider changes that will not only get their organization through the pandemic, but leave them with a modernized and sustainable PTO program.”
Mercer data found that nearly half (49%) of employers are amending their sick leave programs in response to COVID-19 related absences. Some employers (11.98%) have given employees additional time off to “show employees appreciation” during the pandemic, but the vast majority (92.48%) are relying on remote work to give employees flexibility instead.
Businesses are not just changing their PTO policies to ensure compliance with the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Mercer data found. The Act, passed in March, mandated that employers need to provide two weeks of fully paid leave to employees who’ve contracted coronavirus, and two-thirds pay to those needing to take two weeks to care for a loved one, according to the Department of Labor.
“Both before the pandemic and in response to it, many states and local authorities passed their own paid sick leave mandates or expanded statutory disability and paid family leave benefits,” says Simon Camaj, Mercer’s life absence and disability and voluntary benefits practice leader. “Although this can add significant compliance hurdles for larger companies, we believe that employers can turn the burden of state regulations into an opportunity and potentially enhance the way employers and state policies work together.”
Mercer recommends these five things to consider as they reevaluate their leave programs.