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 include the requirement to pay contributions to fund benefits under the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016, effective April 7, 2017.
Although 65 percent of the 600 employees surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management said "respectful treatment of all employees at all levels" is very important for job satisfaction, only 38 percent said they are currently satisfied with the level of respect in their workplaces.
Updated to reflect forthcoming legislation amending the workers' compensation law.
Updated to incorporate the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016, effective April 7, 2017.
Updated to include the District of Columbia's Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016, effective April 7, 2017.
Updated to reflect a 60-day delay of the fiduciary rule's general compliance date.
Updated to reflect preemption laws in Iowa and South Carolina, amendments to preemption law in North Carolina, and forthcoming Arkansas preemption law.
HR and legal considerations for employers regarding employee benefit programs. Support on following regulations and requirements on this topic.