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

  • Social Security and Medicare Tax Rates and Benefit Amounts

    Type:
    Quick Reference

    Employers and employees each contribute into the Social Security retirement system via Social Security and Medicare (FICA) taxes. This Quick Reference chart provides employers with a comparison of the current and prior year Social Security taxable wage base, FICA tax rates and Social Security benefit amounts.

  • IRS Announces 2015 Inflation Adjustments to Fringe Benefits, Other Taxable Amounts

    Date:
    31 October 2014
    Type:
    News

    The IRS has announced the annual cost-of-living adjustments made to several employee benefits and taxable amounts, based on changes to the Consumer Price Index. These are the maximum amounts that may be excluded in 2015 from an employee's taxable income for specific benefits.

  • Seasonal Hires

    Date:
    27 October 2014
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    One of the most challenging aspects of staffing a productive and profitable organization concerns striking a balance between employee compensation costs and fulfilling client expectations. Often, an employer strikes this balance by increasing staff on a seasonal basis - especially in industries such as hospitality or retail.

  • 2015 Pension Plan Limits Announced, 401(k) Deferral Limit Increases to $18,000

    Date:
    24 October 2014
    Type:
    News

    The Internal Revenue Service has announced the tax year 2015 cost-of-living adjustments affecting dollar limitations on benefits and contributions under qualified retirement plans and other inflation-adjusted amounts. Many of the pension plan limitations will increase for 2015 because the increase in the cost-of-living index met the statutory thresholds that trigger their adjustment. Other limitations will not change because the relevant thresholds were not met.

  • Social Security Wage Base Increasing to $118,500 for 2015

    Date:
    23 October 2014
    Type:
    News

    The Social Security Administration has announced that the Social Security taxable wage base will be $118,500 for 2015, as adjusted for inflation. As in prior years, there is no limit on the amount of wages subject to Medicare tax withholding. The Social Security and Medicare (FICA) tax rates will not change for 2015.

  • New Jersey Unemployment Benefits Pamphlet

    Type:
    Policies and Documents

    As mandated by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, New Jersey employers must provide the Unemployment Benefits Pamphlet.

  • New Jersey BC-10 Form

    Type:
    Policies and Documents

    As mandated by the New Jersey Department of Labor, New Jersey employers must provide a copy of the New Jersey BC-10 Form.

  • Health Plan Identifier Required in HIPAA Transactions: Employment Law Manual Updated

    Date:
    20 October 2014
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    A health plan identifier (HPID) must be used in Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standard transactions starting November 7, 2016. However, HPIDs must be obtained by November 5, 2014, or November 5, 2015, depending on plan size.

  • Same-Sex Marriage Bans Fall in 13 States: Employment Law Manual, Chart Updated

    Date:
    20 October 2014
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    The US Supreme Court declined to review challenges to three federal appeals court rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin, which also cleared the way for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Colorado, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming. Bans also fell in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho and Nevada.

  • New Jersey Continuation Coverage Rules Form

    Type:
    Policies and Documents

    As mandated by the State of New Jersey, Department of Banking and Insurance, New Jersey employers with covered, eligible employees must distribute a copy of the New Jersey Continuation Coverage Rules form.

About this topic

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