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.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Kansas employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to taxation of employee benefits.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Kentucky employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to taxation of employee benefits.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Ohio employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to taxation of employee benefits.
The EEOC lost its bid to temporarily stop Honeywell International from imposing surcharges on employees who refuse to submit to biometric testing as part of its wellness program, which the EEOC claims violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).
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.
The EEOC has filed a second lawsuit claiming an employer's wellness program violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Employers seeking to advise employees of when they will provide reimbursement for business travel and help employees maintain reasonable limits on business expenses should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Employers seeking to advise employees which holidays are observed and the circumstances under which employees will receive holiday pay should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Employers seeking to advise employees that they provide floating holidays and the circumstances under which those holidays will accrue, carry over and/or be forfeited or paid upon termination of employment should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
HR guidance on effective benefit plan administration.