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", in addition to the repeal of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act 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.
Employees need to know about their benefits in order to use them effectively and to understand and appreciate their value. This section assists HR professionals in developing a successful benefit communication plan using various media.
The IRS has announced the annual cost-of-living adjustments made to several employee benefits and taxable amounts. These are the maximum amounts that may be excluded in 2014 from an employee's taxable income for specific benefits.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Federal employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to Managing Employees in Special Situations
The Taxation of Employee Benefits section of the Employment Law Manual has been updated, in the Nontraditional Living Arrangements subsection, with an explanation of IRS Notice 2013-61, which further implements the recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage in United States v. Windsor.
A new California law - the Same Sex Couple Tax Fairness Act - provides a temporary personal income tax exclusion for any amounts received by an employee in a registered domestic partnership from an employer to compensate for additional federal income taxes the employee incurs on employer-provided accident and health care benefits. The new exclusion applies for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2018.
In-depth review of the spectrum of California employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to taxation of employee benefits.
In an effort to expand the already robust employee development resources on XpertHR , a number of articles are now available for use in supervisor training and in achieving employee management and retention goals.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Rhode Island employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to taxation of employee benefits.
HR guidance on effective benefit plan administration.