Overview: Benefits administration involves establishing, maintaining and managing the full spectrum of employee benefit programs for an organization. More than just ensuring compliance, benefits administration is also concerned with making sure employees understand how their benefits work and what requirements must be satisfied in order to be eligible to participate.
From an operational standpoint, some major functions of benefits administration include: (i) ensuring the legal compliance and overall effectiveness of an organization's benefits program including health, welfare and retirement plans; (ii) negotiating with vendors and recommending benefit plans that align with organizational goals; (iii) communicating benefit plan options to both new and existing employees; (iv) processing additions and terminations to benefit plans in a timely manner; (v) verifying bills and making accurate and timely payments to insurance providers; (vi) making sure payroll deductions are in place for employee contributions to benefit plans; and (vii) ensuring employer contributions are done in a timely manner.
Benefits administration involves balancing the needs of both the employee and the employer. It is important to have programs in place that support the employee that are in line with what an employer can afford.
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 long-term as they monitor developments and adjust benefit strategies accordingly.
Author: Tracy Morley, SPHR, Legal Editor
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.
The EEOC filed its first lawsuit directly challenging an employer's wellness program under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
In-depth review of the spectrum of Federal employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to Managing Employees in Special Situations
Use this workflow to determine if an employer will owe a "shared responsibility" penalty under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Employers are seeing significant changes when it comes to same-sex marriages and other relationships in the workplace. Several states recognize same-sex marriage and extend the same rights and benefits to both same-sex opposite-sex married couples.
Despite receiving an unclear request, a benefits plan administrator was liable under ERISA for failing to timely provide requested plan documents. The 6th Circuit has adopted the "clear notice" standard, but ruled that the administrator knew or should have known which documents were requested.
In-depth review of the spectrum of employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to Compliance, Reporting and Disclosure Requirements
Two Employment Law Manual sections and a Legal Insight have been updated to reflect final ACA information reporting requirements.
A Worked Example and LiveFlo have been updated to reflect final ACA regulations recently issued by the Obama administration.
The newly updated content reflects changes resulting from the final regulations.
HR guidance on effective benefit plan administration.