Overview: Employee benefit programs typically account for one-third of employee compensation costs. HR professionals are charged with managing this investment wisely. This includes ensuring compliance, controlling costs, having an effective communication strategy and making sure the benefits program attracts, retains and engages employees.
This is especially challenging in light of rising health care costs and an increasingly complex regulatory environment. With only so many dollars to spend on employee benefits, a key part of the strategy is to determine how much to invest so that both the needs of the employee and the employer are met. The regulatory environment has a significant impact on how employee benefit plans are designed and administered as employers ensure plans are operated in compliance with ERISA, COBRA and HIPAA.
Having a benefits strategy that is linked to business strategy can serve as a significant competitive advantage for employers. Clearly aligning the vision of employee benefit programs with the employer's business goals demonstrates how HR functions as a business partner and contributes to the bottom line. Effective benefit communications can support this vision and will ensure that both employers and employees get the most from the substantial investment in benefits.
Trends: The newer requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as Health Care Reform or Obamacare, in addition to the repeal of section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and the legalization of same-sex marriage in numerous states, will challenge HR professionals in both the short- and the long-term as they monitor developments and adjust benefit strategies accordingly.
Author: Tracy Morley, SPHR, Legal Editor
Updated to reflect scheduling requirements under the New York City Fair Work Practices ordinances, effective November 26, 2017; and enhanced to improve comprehensiveness of scheduling ordinances coverage.
Updated to include the forthcoming requirement that all employers must file quarterly reports and payments electronically.
Updated to include new withholding and reporting requirements for Qualified Small Employer HRAs, effective November 20, 2017.
Updated to reflect IRS guidance on qualified small employer HRAs, effective November 20, 2017.
Under the 21st Century Cures Act, a small employer that has fewer than 50 full-time employees (including full-time equivalent employees) and that does not offer group health insurance to its active employees may provide stand-alone qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangements (QSEHRAs). An employer may use this model notice to fulfill the annual notice requirement.
Large employers may soon receive a notice from the IRS if they are liable for an employer shared responsibility payment for calendar year 2015 under the Affordable Care Act. The employer shared responsibility payment is the penalty assessed against an Applicable Large Employer if it does not provide affordable, minimum essential coverage to at least 70 percent of its full-time employees.
As mandated by the New York Workers' Compensation Board, an employer must provide the New York Paid Family Leave Employee Waiver Form to employees who may opt to waive paid family leave benefits.
As mandated by the New York Workers' Compensation Board, an employer that wishes to voluntarily provide paid family leave (PFL) benefits must apply to the state using PFL-136 if it will require employee contributions.
As mandated by the New York Workers' Compensation Board, an employer that wishes to voluntarily provide paid family leave (PFL) benefits must apply to the state using PFL-135 if it will not require employee contributions.
HR and legal considerations for employers regarding employee benefit programs. Support on following regulations and requirements on this topic.