Upcoming 2021 Changes to Federal, State, and Municipal Laws Related to Absence Management in the US

Leave administrator working with client

Larkin US 2021 Updates

Throughout 2020, we have been providing important compliance updates to our clients in a variety of ways:

  • eNewsletters
  • Leave and Disability Reports
  • Reference materials

Topics include COVID-related updates, Paid Sick Leave, Paid Family and Medical leave, and all US updates (definitions in appendix).

Preparing for 2021

As we approach the new year, many of the laws we have been discussing will take effect. Our commitment to our partners is to ensure that you have a solid understanding of leave of absence laws and state wage replacement benefits so that you can act and implement 2021 changes with minimal disruption to your organization.

This document is intended to:

  • Confirm action
  • Confirm Larkin’s role
  • Consolidate all 2021 PFML and leave updates and impacts

This document may be especially helpful for those who have moved to a Work from Home/Work from Anywhere model, as you may now have employees working in states that have not traditionally been a part of your organization’s demographics.

Leave administrator working with client

Actions for 2021

Larkin is encouraging our clients to review their handbooks, policies (leave, pay and attendance), and internal employee sites to determine if any updates are required.
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Required Employer Actions

Larkin is here to support you with your poster and employee notification requirements. To assist you we have added links to available, updated posters and information regarding required employee notifications.

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Process Changes

We will also be highlighting the information you need to know when reviewing your internal processes, as some changes may require you to change a long-standing process or practice.

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Larkin is ready for 2021!

Our teams have been trained and are already aware of the impacts these new laws will have on your programs administered by Larkin. Your Larkin Administrator(s) are Subject Matter Experts in all matters related to leaves of absence and wage replacement benefits.

Their role is:

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Eligibility

Identify which employees (who are either on or have requested leave) will be eligible for the leave law and/or wage replacement benefits.
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Employee outreach

Make contact with impacted employees and explain newly gained eligibility of the leave laws and/or wage replacement benefit.
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Benefits/entitlements

Explain the new benefits (benefit amounts, duration, pay integration, and application process)
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Eligibility

Identify which employees (who are either on or have requested leave) will be eligible for the leave law and/or wage replacement benefits.
b3lineicon|b3icon-success||Success

Eligibility

Identify which employees (who are either on or have requested leave) will be eligible for the leave law and/or wage replacement benefits.
b3lineicon|b3icon-success||Success

Eligibility

Identify which employees (who are either on or have requested leave) will be eligible for the leave law and/or wage replacement benefits.
b3lineicon|b3icon-user-talk-2||User Talk 2

Internal Experiences

While this transition to remote work changed the everyday work experience, the Larkin family found alternative ways to upkeep our sense of community. We rapidly witnessed an increase of activity on our internal social media platform, Namely. Employees have been posting anything from jokes, pets, expressing gratitude, to interactive games, suggesting some ‘quarantine fun’, and providing emotional support to those that may be struggling with COVID-19 related stress and anxiety.
In efforts to stay connected to our office environment, we carried a small tradition from the office to our online platform. This tradition started a few years ago when our clients’ employees would send us baby pictures of their little ones following pregnancy and baby bonding leaves. Eventually, our office spaces developed a ‘baby wall’, which included baby pictures that were sent to us, as well as, having our own baby wall consisting of Larkin employees! On Namely, we invented a baby challenge called “Little Teamers”. This challenge went on for 37 days! Baby pictures of our Larkin family were posted daily, leaving the entire company to guess the names of the employees the baby pictures belonged to. At the end of each day, those who guessed correctly, were placed in a drawing for a gift card! This challenge was very interactive and popular.
Aside from social media, team leads and managers hold 1-1 meetings with each employee to address any concerns and to keep an open dialogue with every employee. Managers also increased virtual team meetings, while also hosting occasional happy hour meetings to have face-to-face time with their teams on a more personable level. Most employees look forward to jumping on video conferences every chance they get. It is very evident that most of us miss seeing our teammates. Everyone makes efforts to stay connected, as we navigate through this crisis together. Everyone is very supportive of one another!
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What Wasn’t Working for Us?

But, of course, this huge transition came with its own set of challenges for our employees. Our three biggest challenges are that employees miss seeing their coworkers, have general anxiety about the Covid-19 crisis, and have issues with internet connectivity. Other challenges include limited workspaces at home, too many distractions at home, and there are general technological difficulties. Although these challenges are the nature of remote work, we aim to limit these challenges as much as possible. To provide support in these areas, we have provided more work equipment to ensure our employees have the tools they need to work effectively and comfortably. We also issue frequent software updates, trainings, and have a readily available tech support team to troubleshoot issues as they arise.
  • I miss being with my coworkers 80% 80%
  • General anxiety about the impact of coronavirus on my life 63% 63%
  • Internet connectivity 57% 57%
  • Communication with coworkers is more difficult 57% 57%
  • My physical workspace is limited 50% 50%
  • Too many distractions at home 48% 48%
  • The tools and applications we use tend to slow me down 46% 46%
  • Very little privacy to do my work at home 37% 37%
  • Keeping a regular schedule to support our clients and their employees 36% 36%
  • I’m in training and wish I could be with other students and TLC coworkers 36% 36%
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External Client Experiences

As the transition to remote work changed our internal work experiences, we remain determined to ensure that our clients and their employees do not experience changes in the quality of our services. Overall, the feedback we received from clients and their employees suggest that we are still providing excellent service. In fact, we have seen a climb in feedback scores!
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%

Number of calls down

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%

Leave activity down

We have, however, seen changes in activity. In the early stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 related leaves only made up 4.5% of our leave activity, the number of calls dropped 25% and leave activity dropped roughly 7% overall. Feedback suggests that these declines were a result of employees working from home, and thus, being able to better manage their medical conditions, having surgeries being postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis and employees striving to work from home while caring for their families.
Overall, for 2020 and compared to 2019, we noticed a climb in activity. While COVID-19 related leaves made up 5% of total leaves in 2020, we did see a 12% climb in new leave activity overall. The number of calls also increased roughly 16% from 2019.
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%

Overall new leave activity up for 2020

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What’s Next?

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The year 2020 has been a learning experience, to say the least! As we discuss what the last year of remote work means to our company, we find ourselves re-exploring our technologies, internal policies and procedures, and client experience guidelines.
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Although the future remains undetermined at this time for many companies, we are actively developing our own plan for a return to the office, when it is safe to do so. We are, once again, at the on-going discussion table for another change in our business model. This change will not be a simple reversal of remote work, but a transition into a new normal.

We would love to hear your feedback!

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