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
Updated to reflect forthcoming scheduling requirements under the New York City Fair Work Practices ordinances.
Updated to reflect the repeal of West Virginia's health benefit exchange law, effective July 5, 2017.
Two IRS Chief Counsel Advice Memoranda provide good examples of the tax ramifications of wellness program benefits provided under various scenarios.
Although 65 percent of the 600 employees surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management said "respectful treatment of all employees at all levels" is very important for job satisfaction, only 38 percent said they are currently satisfied with the level of respect in their workplaces.
Covered San Francisco employers must provide this form to employees under San Francisco's Paid Parental Leave Ordinance.
Updated to incorporate final regulations on wellness programs, effective January 1, 2017.
Updated to reflect the extended deadline for furnishing information reports to employees in 2017.
On September 2, the IRS released immediately effective final regulations that define the term "spouse" in a gender-neutral manner under federal law. The regulations follow up on two Supreme Court decisions that have recognized same-sex marriage at the federal and state levels since 2013.
Updated to reflect IRS guidance issued in July 2016 on the modified determination letter program.
HR guidance on effective benefit plan administration.