Leave of Absence & Benefits Specialist

Job Location

Oakland, CA


Published By

Publisher Name

Type of Job



70,000 - 72,000 depending on location

Published Date

Jan 21, 2021

About the job

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About the Sierra Club: Sierra Club is the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. We amplify the power of our 3.8 million members and supporters to defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. Our work focuses on championing solutions to the climate crisis; working for clean air, safe water, land protection and a vibrant natural world; fighting for environmental and social justice; and getting people outside to enjoy the outdoors. We have 800+ staff located in offices and working remotely across the country. Sierra Club’s employees are changemakers whose work is rooted in our Equity, Inclusion, and Justice values.

We are also proud to be a unionized employer - with two labor unions: the Progressive Workers Union and Sierra Employee Alliance - representing more than half of our employees.

About the role: Reporting to the HR Manager, the Leaves of Absence and Benefits Specialist is a member of the Human Resources Team responsible for providing excellent client service to all staff by driving the Leaves of Absence process in coordination with the HR Partners, Payroll Team, Benefit vendors, outside counsel and providing general HR team support. You’ll be responsible for ensuring our staff are supported through their leaves - including Medical, Parental, and Sabbatical leaves. The Leaves of Absence and Benefit Specialist also supports the Benefits Administrator in routine tasks and special projects including: assisting employees with their benefit enrollment process, entering and reporting accurate employee benefit data base information, auditing and paying all insurance bills, maintaining employee benefit records and responding to and resolving routine Benefit questions with staff.

Job Duties

1. Leaves of Absence Administration (75%)

● Independently drives the Leaves of Absences process from the employee’s initial notice of the need for leave through the return to work date; ability to initiate and follow through the Leaves of Absence cycle with employee and facilitate necessary administration and communication between employee, managers, HR Partners, Payroll and external Leaves and Benefits vendor/s to ensure leave dates and leave type/s are accurately entered in our HRIS.

○ Eligible leave types available to those employees who qualify include and are not limited to: Family/Parental (Family, Intermittent, Intermittent Medical), FMLA, Intermittent FMLA, Short Term Disability (STD), Long Term Disability (LTD), State Disability (SDI, if applicable), ADA, Personal, Administrative, Sabbatical, Worker’s Comp, Local/State/Federal options and Sierra Club Leave and Time Off options in accordance with internal policy and applicable laws.

● Independently owns and is responsible for Leaves of Absence HRIS data entry and initiates Leaves tracker for each employee on leave; follows up with employee, manager, HR Partners, Payroll Team and/or other cross functional team members to ensure the HRIS data entry is accurate and Leaves tracker is up to date and information is aligned; information and any follow up action items are disseminated to appropriate people as needed.

● Coordinates with Payroll and HR Partners prior to the semi-monthly Payroll run to ensure Leaves of Absence is entered accurately in our HRIS and the Leaves tracker information is the most up to date; be available during the Payroll run to answer questions or process any corrections and adjustments in our HRIS in order for Payroll to settle.

● Communicates with employees regarding their needs for leave and/or modified work schedules. Ensures that employees are aware of their responsibilities and of any documentation and notice required to qualify for and to take leave.

● Maintains reasonable communication with employees on leave to facilitate smooth and timely return to work; relays communication between employee, their manager, HR Partners and Payroll Team during leave within reason.

● Oversees the return-to-work process for employees returning from extended FMLA, workers’ compensation and/or other leave(s).

● Maintains complete and accurate records of leave and accommodation requests in accordance with specified legal requirements and documentation of best practices. This includes gathering and completing all required paperwork, determining leave eligibility, designating leave as FMLA-qualifying, requesting medical certification as needed, and accounting for intermittent and reduced schedule leave use.

● Working with key stakeholders, ensures HR department compliance with HIPAA regulations, makes appropriate recommendations for compliance with applicable regulations.

● Manages and partners with benefit vendors or legal counsel when needed.

● Maintains working knowledge of all applicable leave and accommodation laws including the FMLA, ADA, and state and federal laws and regulations. Coordinates with outside counsel when additional input or advice is needed.

● Improve Leave of Absence Processes, Systems and Education:

○ Advises managers and employees on the interaction of leave laws and regulations with paid time off, workers’ compensation, and short-term and long-term disability benefits. Facilitates other leave requests, which may include accommodation requests under the ADA, FMLA, state and federal laws and regulations.

○ Improves Leaves of Absence and Benefit processes by engaging key stakeholders to evaluate, co-create and implement streamlined procedures, communications, forms and HRIS.

○ Ownership of evaluating, planning, developing and implementing new Sierra Club Leaves of Absence training/s for Managers.

● Manage annual Sabbatical Leave Application and Approval Process in compliance with union contracts

● Support other departmental priority projects as it relates to this role. Assist and/or lead with project coordination, as appropriate.

2. Benefit Administrator Support (25%)

● Processes transactions related to benefit enrollments for hires, terminations and job changes.

● Audits the accuracy of all insurance billings and Benefit invoices for payment. and ensures payment before the due date.

● Audits data feeds, incoming and outgoing, with 401(k) recordkeeper. Researches and answers employee benefit coverage and retirement questions and resolves routine questions from staff.

● Assist in timely pension calculations with former Sierra Club employees and actuary.

● Support Benefits Administrator with special projects; maintains benefit files; creates routine reports upon request; works closely with Payroll as necessary. Escalates non-routine claim or coverage issues to Benefits Administrator.