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2013 Guardian Absence Management Study

Employers discussing employee absence management

A roadmap for increasing employee workplace productivity

The importance of absence management continues to grow as employers of all sizes are challenged to reduce costs, improve productivity and stay in compliance with a myriad of regulations.

In particular, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was established in 1993 as a federal response to assist Americans in balancing work and family priorities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. When combined with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) final regulations it helped to do just that. It also changed the face of disability management, and how the insurers respond to employers' need for effective employee absence management.

Over the last 10 or so years, disability insurance products have been expanding to include FMLA and other leave of absence administration for employers. These resulting absence management products seek not only to control absences due to employee illness, injury, family member or other situations, but also to integrate disability prevention, workforce health management, cost containment and return to work processes. Absence management products were historically made available only to very large employers; however, the impetus has changed to recognize the need among companies of all sizes.

We conducted a survey to explore employer application of absence management and bring resulting concepts to the industry.

The study findings clearly indicate that certain activities, when combined with others, produce positive absence management outcomes for employers. These activities, as measured by the Guardian Absence Management Activity Index, can serve as a road map for employers to follow toward success.


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