Organizations today need to offer competitive leave programs if they want to attract and retain the best employees. Since 2021, there’s been a 13% increase in the number of companies taking a more structured approach to leave management. If you’re one of those companies, it’s critical to do your due diligence before deciding how to manage employee leave—whether it’s with leave management software, a rep-based solution, or even hiring an in-house expert. If you do decide to outsource your leave management, here are some important factors and questions to consider to make sure you find the provider that works best for your company and employee needs.
Compliance is usually the top concern, as it’s the most complex piece of the puzzle and getting it wrong can be costly for companies and employees. Here’s what to ask a potential provider to make sure you stay on top of compliance no matter where you and your employees are:
- How do you take federal, state, and local laws into account?
- Can you handle compliance across all 50 states?
- How do you determine our employees’ eligibility and ensure accuracy?
- Do you send required compliance notices to employees? If so, how are they managed?
"Most providers update changes to federal or state regulations around leave automatically in their systems....The top vendors will keep you updated and push out any changes to those regulations automatically." — Rich Fuerstenberg, Senior Partner at Mercer
2. Claims submission and tracking
Even if you’re compliant, making sure different stakeholders—from insurance providers to employees—are keeping track of claims and ensuring they’re submitted on time is another key piece of the puzzle. When claims are filed late or incorrectly, employees might be denied the benefits they need to afford to take their leave. That’s why it's crucial to understand how your provider will address the following:
- Are employees provided tools or assistance to submit claims to both private disability insurance providers as well as state programs?
- How do you handle getting medical certifications from providers, especially in cases where they will only communicate with patients themselves?
- Are you insurance carrier agnostic?
- How will employees know what claims they need to submit, when, and how?
- Will employees and/or Admins have visibility into each claim’s status throughout the submission process?
- How do you handle claims submissions for states like New York and California that typically require direct correspondence with the claimants themselves?
“It’s such a critical time when someone goes out on leave. If paperwork is delayed, it means their dollars are delayed, and that’s awful. When I’d just had a baby, I was exhausted and here I was getting all these bills and suddenly my pay was reduced to 60%. I want this to just be smooth for employees.” — HR professional
3. Employee experience and communication
Your leave management program is something employees interact with in some of the most important moments of their lives that can be chaotic, stressful, and emotional. Make sure your provider aligns with your culture, strategy, and employee needs by checking in on:
- How does your leave experience align with our company culture?
- How will employees access information and get questions answered before, during, and after a leave? (e.g., via call centers, online resources, interactive software, email)
- How do you manage employee privacy through the leave planning and claims submission processes?
- Is the solution and process intuitive enough for employees to understand their leave benefits, timeline, and pay?
- Will admins have visibility into each employee’s leave and pay details to help troubleshoot if questions arise?
- How are employees supported through the transition away from and back to work?
- What support is available for managers who have team members taking leave?
“Leave is a huge topic of discussion. It affects the culture of a company and the resource capacity that you have as well. I know there are some companies that outsource the leave management process because it can be such a burden.” — HR professional
4. Implementation and partnership
Whether your solution is software or service-based, you want to make sure you understand how it will fit in with your team’s workflow and standards. Ensure you can hit the ground running and keep up that momentum by asking:
- What is the typical implementation timeline?
- Do you help employers craft competitive, equitable leave policies?
- What different types of leave can you handle?
- Will you help us calculate payroll? If so, who handles those calculations?
- How will you help us track key leave trends at our company over time?
- What kind of support will Admins receive?
- Will you help employees access our company’s other benefits during leave?
"The best [solutions] allow HR to track all employees who are on leave in detail and report back easily to managers. You no longer have to use ad hoc reporting methods or spreadsheets for that purpose." — Rich Fuerstenberg, Senior Partner at Mercer
5. Price and ROI
Calculating the up front cost is always top of mind, but it’s important to understand not just how much money is being saved or spent but also how much time and burdens the solution saves you:
- What are your prices and how is pricing established? (PEPM, per-leave fees, implementation fees, renewal structure)
- By choosing you as our provider, what burdens can you help us take off our plate?
- Will you help us calculate ROI on an ongoing basis?
Start your search for a leave provider
Though this list of questions is extensive, the number of critical questions employees ask during leave planning can be even more exhaustive—that’s why it’s important to get clear answers before you embark with any leave management provider. Employees take leaves to handle some of the most defining moments of their lives. Giving them a well-planned, seamless leave experience, then, can also be life-changing.
For more helpful guidance on evaluating HR tech solutions across several categories, we recommend looking at SelectSoftware Reviews. They offer dozens of resources on topics like how to think about HR Tech ROI, how to buy HR Tech, negotiation tactics, and more.
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After two years, working with hundreds of employers, and supporting more than 5,000 leaves in Cocoon, we have more conviction than ever that technology has the power to transform taking and managing leave. Today, we’re excited to share our evolved and expanded vision, along with the technology that will power it — with an all new look and feel.