Why Protecting Employee Information Is Paramount While on Leave

The phrase “data security” gets tossed around so frequently that sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of why it’s so important. When it comes to managing leaves of absence, protecting employee information is especially important, and if you aren’t careful with it (say allowing 3rd parties to file forms on behalf of employees) you’re running the risk of some serious issues.

Let’s dig into what the issues are and discuss ways to protect employee information.

I fought the law and the law…was expensive

Employers have a legal obligation to protect their employees’ personal information, including information related to their leave of absence. This may include information related to their health, disability status, and other sensitive information. Regardless of if you’re using a 3rd party vendor to manage leaves or you’re relying on spreadsheets (we feel you), your organization is responsible all the same for ensuring that employee information is protected.

Why does such a legal obligation exist? Well, protecting employee information is a matter of privacy and respecting the rights of employees. Employees have a right to expect that their personal information will be kept confidential and used only for appropriate purposes. That expectation becomes difficult to guarantee if employee information isn’t housed and handled in a secure manner.

Getting it wrong not only puts your organization at risk of violating employee privacy, it can also be costly. With the average FMLA lawsuit running roughly $80,000 to defend, it’s in the best interest of everyone to ensure data security.

Compliance with regulations, which of course evolve over time might actually be required by law depending on your country and industry. Violating privacy laws such as the ones under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) can bring a nightmare scenario to real life for your legal and compliance department. If you’re thinking to yourself, “What if we don’t have a legal and compliance department?” Well, that underscores the importance of keeping your employee data secure even more.

Keeping your rep up

Protecting employee information can do wonders for maintaining the reputation of your organization and building trust with employees. If employees feel that their personal information is being handled responsibly and securely, they are more likely to trust your organization and feel confident in your ability to protect their interests while away from the workplace. 

If that weren’t reason enough, organizations that prioritize protecting employee information while taking a leave can avoid employee discrimination pitfalls. Properly protecting employee information ensures that employees feel protected from discrimination based on their health status or other personal information related to their leave.

There’s no way to positively spin an employer dragging your organization through the mud on the front page of Reddit. A lack of security with employee information can have a lasting negative impact that should be avoided at all costs.

3rd-party protection

If using multiple systems and spreadsheets is keeping you up at night, you might consider using a 3rd party to specifically manage leaves. Doing so can often offer you the technological  sophistication needed to properly manage leaves while keeping data secure.

When vetting 3rd party leave management options it’s important to get a full understanding of how they handle employee information. Being able to house all employee information under one secure roof can alleviate a ton of HR concerns, but depending on how the manage form filings you might not be totally out of the woods.

Relying on 3rd parties to file forms on behalf of employees can have ramifications that tarnish the warm fuzzy feeling you get by outsourcing all LOA-related tasks, but there are risks associated with filing forms representing someone you aren’t. For one, you’re allowing someone who isn’t your employee to act as that employee, and you’re also giving that person outside of your organization access to that information without any real guardrails.

All this to say that 3rd parties can allow you to ditch legacy systems and spreadsheets while offering a fantastic solution to your data security concerns, but it’s important to understand their leave management process from start to finish so you can identify any possible areas where your employee’s information might be compromised. 

About Tilt

Tilt is leading the charge in all things leave of absence management through easy-to-use tech and human touch. Since 2017, our proprietary platform and Empathy Warriors have been helping customers make leave not suck by eliminating administrative burdens, keeping companies compliant, and providing a truly positive and supportive leave of absence experience for their people.

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