HR Support on Employee Benefit Programs & Strategies

Editor's Note: The benefits challenge - balancing compliance, communications, competitive advantage and cost.

Tracy MorleyOverview: 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

Latest items in Employee Benefits

  • IRS Increases PCORI Fee Amount

    Date:
    19 September 2014
    Type:
    News

    The IRS announced that the adjusted applicable dollar amount for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fee will increase to $2.08 for plan or policy years ending on or after October 1, 2014, and before October 1, 2015.

  • Indiana and Wisconsin Same-Sex Marriage Decisions Upheld: Employment Law Manual Updated

    Date:
    17 September 2014
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld recent lower court decisions invalidating Indiana's and Wisconsin's laws banning same-sex marriage.

  • Workers' Compensation: California

    Type:
    Employment Law Manual

    In-depth review of the spectrum of California employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to workers' compensation.

  • Taxation of Employee Benefits: Indiana

    Type:
    Employment Law Manual

    The value of health insurance benefits provided to an employee's same-sex spouse or partner and/or their dependents is taxable in Indiana.

  • Federal and State Tax Treatment of Same-Sex Couple Benefits - Chart

    Type:
    Quick Reference

    Despite the DOMA decision handed down by the Supreme Court in Windsor, state laws still vary greatly regarding both the recognition of same-sex marriage and the taxation of benefits provided to an employee's same-sex spouse by an employer. This Quick Reference Chart summarizes federal and state law regarding whether same-sex marriages, civil unions and/or domestic partnerships are recognized, and whether the value of benefits provided by an employer to an employee's same-sex spouse or civil union or domestic partner is taxable. This chart will be updated when any changes in these laws occur.

  • Date:
    11 September 2014
    Type:
    Legal Timetable

  • IRS Releases Draft Instructions to ACA Reporting Forms

    Date:
    04 September 2014
    Type:
    News

    The IRS has released draft instructions for employers to use when completing the forms required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) under Internal Revenue Code § 6055 and § 6056. An employer must use these forms to report to the Internal Revenue Service on its employee health care coverage.

  • Florida Court Strikes Down Same-Sex Marriage Ban: Employment Law Manual Updated

    Date:
    03 September 2014
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    A federal court declares Florida's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, but the decision is stayed pending appeal.

  • New ACA Birth Control Rules Issued in Response to Religious Objections

    Date:
    29 August 2014
    Type:
    News

    New rules on the Affordable Care Act's contraception coverage mandate were published in light of the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby and Wheaton College decisions. Interim final rules provide an alternative way for religious nonprofits to provide notice of their objection to covering contraceptive services, and proposed rules cover accommodating closely held, for-profit companies with religious objections.

  • EEOC Files First ADA Challenge of Employer's Wellness Program

    Date:
    28 August 2014
    Type:
    News

    The EEOC filed its first lawsuit directly challenging an employer's wellness program under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

About this topic

HR and legal considerations for employers regarding employee benefit programs. Support on following regulations and requirements on this topic.