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4 Tips on Keeping Your Business Running Smoothly During PFML and Other Employee Leave of Absences

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4 Tips on Keeping Your Business Running Smoothly During PFML and Other Employee Leave of Absences Lori Narewski

4 Tips on Keeping Business Running Smoothly During An Employee Leave of Absence

(Written by Lori Narewski)

As 2021 is rapidly approaching so is the start date of PFML (Personal Family Medical Leave) for all Massachusetts' businesses. As an employer, in addition to being aware of your responsibilities – which you can find on the Mass.gov website, you should also have a game plan to ensure all business continues to run as usual during your employee’s absence. In fact, a plan should be in place for any employee's extended absence.

Whether the leave of absence is due to PFML or short-term / long-term time off this plan can benefit you and your employees. A little planning and discussion before a leave allows for fewer disruptions, an ease of transition of responsibilities, continued productivity, and a positive work environment.

Covering “On-Leave” Employee’s Job Responsibilities


  • Postpone projects: Prioritize the employee’s current and upcoming projects, and consider what may be postponed until his or her return.” Some jobs would be better off being moved back, rather than handed off to someone else. (Note: this link is for planning for employee’s FMLA leave, but the ideas are applicable to PFML, as well as other leaves)

  • Utilize existing resources: Can the employee’s responsibilities be covered by one or more existing workers? Does the employee have recommendations of an individual(s) they feel would be perfect for this job? Is there an employee who is ready to develop new skill sets and would benefit with the additional responsibilities? This would be the perfect opportunity. Just be careful not to burden the other employees, which could lower engagement, morale, and overall productivity.

  • Outsource: If you don’t have employees who have the required skills, experience, or time to pick up additional workload you may want to utilize outside resources – freelance contractors, interns, or temporary employees. The type of position and length of leave can help determine which option is best. If you need assistance finding these types of employees, you may want to consider working with a staffing agency.

  • Plan for projects and tasks to be covered: If a current staff member or temp-hire will be picking up the employee’s work, it’s important for communication of the different responsibilities to be laid out prior to the leave. Harvard University has a form they use, whenever possible and appropriate, providing each task or project, and all corresponding and pertinent information. You may find using a similar guide to be beneficial to all parties involved.

Benefits of Leave of Absence and Vacation

Although an employee’s leave of absence can feel like one more thing to add to your plate, it can be a positive experience, in the long run, for all involved. Did you know that:

Regardless of the reason you find yourself having to adjust to an employee’s extended time off (even a short vacation) having a plan in place will allow the transition and time off to run smoothly and productively on all ends. When the employee returns it will be easier for them to slip back into the routine, while being refreshed and energized.

If you need assistance finding temporary staff, don’t be afraid to reach out to a staffing agency, such as The Alpha Group. This is what they do every day and can take one thing off your plate, so you can focus on your other responsibilities.

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