Study finds employees taking intermittent family medical leave are three times more likely to file for short-term disability
Employees taking intermittent time off to care for themselves or for sick family members under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are nearly three times more likely to file a subsequent Short-term Disability (STD) claim within six months than employees not taking FMLA leaves, according to new research findings from Reed Group.
Intermittent FMLA claims, in which employees are away from work, return and then are away again, are a challenging source of frustration and difficulty for human resource managers. Reed Group’s findings suggest that professional outsourcing and software can be key strategies for HR managers to decrease employee lost time due to intermittent absence and associated costs.
As part of its study of more than 112,000 FMLA claims closed between 2008 and 2011 Reed Group found the following:
- 51 percent of all FMLA claims involved intermittent leaves; and,
- Employees on intermittent leaves are more likely to file a STD claim within the following six months, (21 percent) than those on continuous leave (8 percent).
The most common reasons for disability following intermittent leaves are musculoskeletal conditions and behavioral health problems.
Kevin Curry, senior vice president and national practice leader for Reed Group, suggests employers use FMLA claims as a gauge for the need of employee assistance programs and offer programs that specifically address the employee needs associated with the most common FMLA claims within their company. By integrating FMLA management with a company’s existing health management programs, (such as employee assistance programs, wellness programs, disease management services, and health coaching) employers can reduce STD incidence, duration and costs.
“Employee assistance programs are often used to help employees remain healthy and prevent common issues that result in STD time away from work; however, most employers haven’t built the connection between FMLA claims, which can be a pre-cursor to a more impactful STD leave, and their employee assistance programs,” Curry said. “Without that connection, employers have a difficult time maximizing their EAP programs and reduce STD incidence as effectively as possible.”
Source: Reed Group; www.reedgroup.com.