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
The US Supreme Court has confirmed that plan fiduciaries have a continuing obligation to monitor investments in a plan under § 401(k) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). Plan fiduciaries need to take concrete steps to minimize liability risks.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) requires plan sponsors to meet fiduciary, reporting and disclosure requirements. ERISA also sets minimum standards for participation, vesting, benefit accruals and funding. This Legal Insight focuses on a plan sponsor's fiduciary and disclosure responsibilities under ERISA and explains how to navigate DOL regulations and enforcement activities.
The IRS has released the inflation-adjusted, calendar-year 2016 amounts for high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) and health savings accounts (HSAs), as determined under § 223 of the Internal Revenue Code.
This section helps HR and payroll professionals to understand how particular types of benefit plans must be structured and how to properly tax and report contributions, reimbursements and distributions in order to ensure compliance with the Internal Revenue Code.
This chart provides employers with a comparison of the current and prior year retirement plan cost of living adjustments and fringe benefit limitations. It helps employers ensure that they are withholding the correct amount of taxes from the pay of employees who receive various benefits. The chart will be updated annually when new amounts are announced by the Internal Revenue Service, which is usually by the end of October.
Effective January 1, 2016, Tennessee employers with 10 or more employees will be required to file quarterly SUI returns electronically. Penalties will be assessed for late filing as of July 1, 2016.
HR and legal considerations for employers regarding employee benefit programs. Support on following regulations and requirements on this topic.