New research out of the Reed Group has found that employees taking intermittent family leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act are almost three times more likely to file for short-term disability within six months of their initial leave time. However, the findings also suggest that outsourcing and software can be successful strategies for decreasing lost time due to intermittent absences and the costs associated with them. Part of the study analyzed 112,000 FMLA claims filed between 2008 and 2011 and found that:
- 51 percent of the claims involved intermittent leave;
- Employees on intermittent leave are much more likely to file a short-term disability claim within six months (21 percent) than employees on continuous leave (8 percent).
- The most reported reason for short-term disabilities claims after intermittent leave were musculoskeletal disorders and behavioral health conditions.
“These findings make it clear that intermittent leaves are a major driver of business disruption and cost. Robust tracking tools or professional outsourcing can help employers better manage FMLA and disability claims and reduce business cost and disruption,” said Kevin Curry, senior vice president and national practice leader for Reed Group. “By intercepting these cases early, employers can provide their employees with timely assistance and support which, in turn, can help reduce the incidence of STD and longer periods away from work.”
“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.”