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 trade secret protections under the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act, effective May 11, 2016.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued final rules on employer wellness programs, which address employee protections under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).
The Supreme Court will not resolve a contentious case involving the Affordable Care Act's (ACA's) contraceptive coverage requirement Instead, it issued a unanimous ruling that sends Zubik v. Burwell back to the lower courts without any broad pronouncement.
This resource is under review in light of the EEOC final rules on wellness programs, the ADA and GINA, which were issued on May 17, 2016.
Updated to reflect information on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's maximum annual limitation on cost sharing.
Updated to reflect details on the 'substantially all/predominant' analysis and on the information-disclosure requirements under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.
Updated to reflect forthcoming amendments regarding seasonal employment.
HR and legal considerations for employers regarding employee benefit programs. Support on following regulations and requirements on this topic.