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Kainos Live Q&A: Answering your Absence Questions

Organisations across the globe are rapidly adapting to challenging business changes and undoubtedly have to consider how these will impact their business systems, processes and people. The effect of global change is prompting amendments to your Workday configuration, with Absence most likely at the forefront.

Our Workday consultants have reviewed your Workday Absence related questions and put together this informative FAQ.

Note, what’s shared here is to the best of our knowledge at the time of writing and things are evolving daily. Given that the information available is changing daily, we recommend you take into consideration the government advice applicable to your country when considering Workday changes. As always, be cognisant of any changes you make in Workday regarding Absence, as these changes can impact in your downstream systems, including payroll.

What general Absence challenges are Workday customers currently facing?

How to track pandemic related absence is one of the most frequent questions we’re hearing. Organisations want to be able to record time off caused by the pandemic so it doesn’t impact existing policy and can be tracked.

One option is to create a separate Covid-19 related sickness absence plan. By doing this, the cost and impacts can be measured, and the data can be used if needed for insurance or government support claims. We advise you to consider a simple unlimited plan, which Workday have provided instructions for on their Covid-19 Absence support page. This option would also mean that you’re not altering your existing sickness and absence configuration which will be beneficial longer term.

There are some important considerations if you decide to implement this in your organisation:

  • Do you want to make this absence type available for employee self-service?
  • Is there any extra information that you want to capture? For example, Absence due to Covid-19 diagnosis, self-isolating with symptoms, caring for a family member. There are also other absences to consider including closure of facilities and longer-term furlough. Generally, this information can’t be captured in an absence request, but some customers are looking at the option of adding questionnaires to their absence requests to capture these details.
  • Do Covid-19 related absences need approved or can they be automatically approved? It’s important to remember when making these decisions that approvers may also be absent at short notice. Also bear in mind that it is possible to bulk load time off requests using EIB so the approval stage can be skipped.
  • With payroll, it’s important to ensure that you map any absence changes to relevant payroll earnings through the standard processes.

If you are putting in place a specific Covid-19 related absence plan, the key is flexibility.

With daily changes to government policies and official guidance, it’s important to be able to update your absence plan if needed.  It’s also important to give your people flexibility to report absence and not be overly restrictive. Generally, an accrue as you go plan with no strict balance enforced is a viable option. With this type of plan a person can be recorded as absent for as long as needed. It’s about giving your people flexibility as they need to take more or less time off work.

 

We’re  seeing an increased number of inbound queries in the area of delegated tasks. With the potential for higher than normal sickness rates and delegations becoming a bottleneck, what are your key recommendations?

With the increased likelihood of approvers being absent, and also the potential for delegates to be absent too, the responsiveness to Workday inbox tasks may not be as quick as usual. Be aware of this situation and monitor your processes to identify any bottlenecks before they become an issue. We recommend the following:

  • Run the Business Processes Awaiting Action This lists all the tasks waiting approval or input from others and how long they have been waiting. This report can also be run for key processes like absence entries or payroll and will give you a clear overview of the current situation. Depending on the outcome of the report, you should be prepared to take manual action or reassign tasks to an alternative approver if necessary.
  • Consider using Mass Processes (Mass Approve, Mass Operations Management, Mass Submit for time tracking entries, etc). While this will allow quick action, we recommend you exercise caution before doing this. Carrying out mass approvals means that you will take ownership of tasks away from people, or people may stop doing tasks if they know it will fall back to an admin process. However, this process could be beneficial for time sensitive tasks like payroll impacting approvals.

If you are not currently using these options, it’s good to be aware that they are available and can be used effectively by administrators with minimal security changes.

It should be noted that these options are generally admin tasks, and usual responsibility may fall to only a few people within your organisation. It is important that your organisation puts plans in place to deal with absences of key admins, and have other individuals who can carry out these tasks at short notice if required. We don’t recommend that you make any wholesale security changes but work within the parameters of what is already available in Workday.

 

We’re anticipating an increase of higher Absence balances for half of the year. Is there anything we should be thinking about in our configuration to deal with that going forward?

We can’t make any direct recommendations for your business as each organisation is unique. It will also depend on your organisations’ Annual Leave plan, but there are several potential options that could be leveraged:

  • Reconfigure your Annual Leave plan to allow more days carried over for this year only. This is particularly relevant to organisations with an April – March holiday year. If you need more leeway, consider an existing manual task that would allow for exceptions to carry over. This can be done on an individual level, or en masse as there is an EIB for overriding carryover limits that could be used.
  • Enable a buy/ sell/ salary sacrifice options for holidays that won’t be used. If opting for this, it is important to make sure that employees will not be negatively impacted.

Flexibility in approach is the key here. It’s important that your organisation tries to ensure that employees aren’t using annual leave to manage Covid-19 related absences if there are other options available.

 

As a UK Workday Payroll customer our Absence configuration is quite specific – are there any impacts of using our existing setup to record discretionary full sick pay for workers?

This is something to approach with caution. The majority of companies that use Workday Payroll will have Absence set up in line with Workday recommendations, and that configuration is quite specific, different and more complex than the normal set up for Annual Leave. Changes to this set up would require a lot of testing due to the complexity. Therefore, we would advise to not rush in to making any changes to your existing set up.

At this time, it might not be possible for your organisation to rigorously test any changes you make in Workday. We suggest you consider the option of setting up a separate, stand-alone absence solution for this one-off situation.

 

How are other organisations handling the FFCR Act in Workday (Time Off – Leave), or possibly a combination?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act lays out various employee rights that are a good match for a combination of two new time off plans and one leave type (one for each different pay rate). Each plan should have the appropriate reasons configured (likely similar to your FMLA leave configuration).

Keep any new absence plans configured for this purpose hidden from self-service for now, and limit entries to the HR team or managers familiar with the act and existing FMLA policies. There will also be documents that you may want to attach in Workday.  There are also several important considerations:

  • Choose which option is going to work best with your payroll provider. Ensure the payroll element is set up correctly to work with your absence solution and ensure your Workday or third-party payroll configuration is updated to reflect this.
  • Be flexible with the setup. It’s possible that government guidelines may change based on the global situation and it’s important the configuration can be updated as and when this happens.
  • Anticipate some time for your HR team to verify and correct requests on a periodic basis.

 

Are there any quick absence activities that we can do to alleviate staff issues?

There are definitely some quick absence related activities that you could consider to help with short term issues:

  • As mentioned above, review annual leave carryover expiry duration. Depending on your holiday year, one option could be to do a blanket extension on all annual leave carryover days. It is also possible to run a report on who has a lot of annual leave time left, and it is possible to extend on an individual basis.
  • Decrease the lower limit on paid time off plans to below zero. Staff can request additional time in absence that is topped up with additional accruals. This is a quick way to get more access to absence days.
  • Increase the flexibility of time off increments; for example, rather than half days, people could be allowed request an hour or two off. This could be helpful for your team members with family care arrangements. But before doing this it’s important to check with payroll that these changes can be processed appropriately.
  • Increase the help text on the absence and time tracking screens, so that the details of any changes or new absence codes can be accessed quickly and easily.
  • Consider removing approvals for working from home and sickness or change the process so a central team reviews these in bulk.
  • Create a bespoke Absence Balance Tracker report to run frequently. This will allow you to easily keep track of absence across the organisation e.g. staff have planned 50% of absence by end March (even if not yet taken).
  • Create a team absence calendar to allow for correct planning.
  • If your organisation currently has a sick plan with reasons for absence, consider adding a Covid-19 related field adjacent to cold/ flu to enable absence tracking. But remember to check regulations that this is possible before going ahead.

If you have additional questions relating to Workday Absence, please get in touch with our experts at workdayinfo@kainos.com and you can catch up on our Q&A webinars or register for our weekly Kainos Live Workday Q&A for more hints and tips.

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