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Archive for the ‘Employee Benefits’ Category

Help Your Employees Think About Retirement Income

Help Your Employees Think About Retirement Income - Help Your Employees Think About Retirement Income

Employers need to encourage their employees to think about their retirement income now more than ever. According to experts in the field, employers need to help employees reframe their thinking with regard to income streams and retirement savings, preparing them for a realistic future. Furthermore, employers should be assessing their employee engagement systems and encouraging their younger generations of workers to think about retirement sooner rather than later.

Employees most likely want to be able to retire on their own terms when the time comes, yet few have properly planned this process and know whether or not they can afford it. A big step toward being able to retire comfortably involves converting retirement savings into retirement income, and employers are being encouraged to educate their workers on lifetime income products, helping them to retire at a reasonable age without having to worry about a lack of consistent income.

Millenial Retirement

Although their generation is far from retirement age, millennials are continually interested in these employer-derived retirement schemes, especially considering the somewhat unstable nature of social security and how it could change in the decades to come. Gen Xers and Baby Boomers have arguably had much “safer” retirement options and social security funds compared to millennials, who are now left to fend and save for themselves.

As a result, annuities are becoming an attractive option because the younger generations don’t have an obvious lifetime income coming their way as they get older, in contrast to their parents and grandparents. As a result, employers are being encouraged to educate these younger workers on retirement plans which put tools in place to help workers estimate and measure income replacement in several decades’ time.

A Lack of Action

Financial services company TIAA has found that nearly 70% of employers think it is useful to provide their workers with education on finances, yet only one-third of this 70% actually do provide such education. Other companies stated that they would specifically offer financial education for female workers, yet less than 15% offer that too.

Employers should ideally provide their teams with financial information which is based on different demographics and data such as genders, ages, and life stages, as there is obviously no one-size-fits-all solution if you have a diverse workforce. TIAA continues to press employers on retirement, encouraging aspects such as gamification in order to intrigue staff (particularly of younger generations) and get them thinking about how they’re going to plan for their retirement, no matter how distant it may seem right now.

Looking for advice on retirement schemes and insurance? Our world-class team is equipped with the knowledge and expertise to help you and your employees today. Get in touch!

Why Your Business Needs Employee Benefits Liability insurance

18 07 EB Why Your Business Needs Employee Benefits Liability insurance - Why Your Business Needs Employee Benefits Liability insurance

You can offer your employees many benefits which make your business more attractive, including retirement accounts, shares in the company, and healthcare plans. Although these benefits are great to have in place, errors and fraudulent activities can inevitably occur, setting you back and damaging your reputation. In this case, it can be a great idea to purchase Employee Benefits Liability Insurance, known as EBL for short.

An introduction to Employee Benefits Liability Insurance

EBL, also known as fiduciary insurance, is a unique kind of liability insurance which protects your business from costly litigation arising from fraud and errors in handling employee benefit schemes. For example, your admin team may incorrectly describe the benefits or who is eligible, or they may accidentally fail to list beneficiaries to life insurance benefits. EBL normally comes as an “add-on” coverage to a commercial general liability insurance policy, and usually only covers claims which have been made during the designated coverage period.

Do I need EBL?

If you offer benefits to employees as part of your business, then EBL may be a good idea. Furthermore, if you offer different types of benefits to different employees, then the risk of errors is higher and EBL is even more advisable. It is also advisable to purchase EBL if your business has a high staff turnover, as a greater amount of administrative work (i.e. processing new employee information) can make it more likely than a costly mistake will occur despite the best intentions of your clerical staff.

Things to consider

In your general liability insurance policy, you should check whether the protections of EBL which are relevant to your business are already offered in your policy. However, if you do decide to purchase EBL, be sure to read the policy carefully and find out if there are any specific things which it doesn’t cover. For example, many EBL policies will not protect you from breach of contract, fraud, and practices such as sexual harassment and discrimination – you would need a different policy (or an additional policy) if you are looking to protect yourself from these phenomena.

Put simply, EBL is designed to protect the integrity of both your business and your employees, ensuring that everyone walks away happy in the event that mistakes crop up with your employee benefits handling. EBL is a great way to safeguard your reputation and bank accounts from damage if an error occurs, which is not unlikely if you’re running a business with a degree of complexity.

Looking for advice on getting the best Employee Benefits Liability Insurance deals? Speak to a member of our knowledgeable team today; we can provide you with EBL insurance which meets all of your needs and more!

A Reminder of How Tax Changes Have Impacted Employee Benefits in 2018

A Reminder of How Tax Changes Have Impacted Employee Benefits in 2018 - A Reminder of How Tax Changes Have Impacted Employee Benefits in 2018

If companies want to remain competitive and attract talent, they need to offer both good salaries and good benefits too. In the US, where healthcare isn’t free and living costs are on the rise, employee benefits are increasingly attractive to young new hopefuls. Alas, despite the best intentions of employers to provide their workers with benefits, changing tax laws are making it difficult for some HR departments to adapt or find the funds for employee benefits.

So how exactly have employee benefits been affected by tax reform in 2018? Let’s take a look at some examples!

Employer deductions

Employers cannot claim deductions for qualified transportation fringe benefits anymore, and this includes commuting. Employer deductions are now completely prohibited, apart from when they are essential to the security of their employees. For employers, this means that they could look into sponsor transportation plans which are paid on a pre-tax model. In general, however, businesses will be forced to closely examine their expenses and restructure some logistical systems in order to reduce their tax liability.

Cycling reimbursements

Bicycle reimbursements are not tax-free anymore under the new reform. Under the new system, employees who cycle to work are no longer protected from the tax man. This is sad news for cycling enthusiasts, who are good for both the sustainable energy crisis and the national obesity crisis.

Engagement activity deductions

As of 2018, employer deductions for granular-level engagement activities are no longer allowed. This means that engagement activities for low-level employees will become more pricey, necessitating enhanced support and planning in order to offset the increased costs.

Food, beverages, and meals

Employers are only able to partially deduct expenses spent on drinks, food, and meal options for their workforce, meaning that costs are likely to rise for employees. Under the 2018 tax reform, only 50% of food and drink costs can be deducted, and this includes costs arising from things such as on-site cafeterias.

Recognitions and rewards

There is now a line drawn between cash and non-cash rewards, with deductions for employers only being limited to tangible property such as a gift voucher for a computer store or something similar. This means that any rewards given to employees which are not “tangible property” will no longer be deductible, leaving employers and employees alike with increased tax bills. Non-tangible rewards are things such as cash, coupons, vacations, hotels, meals, and event tickets. This could cause employers to become less enthusiastic about certain types of employee rewards.

Paid medical leave and family leave

According to the new regulations, employers offering at least 2 weeks of annual paid medical and family leave will now receive a tax credit for doing so. This applies to their full-time employees who qualify for the leave, and the paid leave must ensure that the employee at hand receives a minimum of 50% of their normal salary. This is great for mid-level employees, who are very likely to qualify for such benefits according to guidelines. Employers who give out these benefits can claim 12.5% of the paid leave as tax credits, with that figure increasing by 0.25% for every 1% of salary that the employer pays over the 50% minimum.

The bottom line

This recent tax reform certainly has its pros and cons depending on who you ask. Although a bunch of employer tax deductions have been reigned in, there are now tax credits which inadvertently boost employee morale and aim to help companies retain funds in the form of tax credits. In addition, although some employees may enjoy non-tangible rewards from their employer, this new focus on tangible rewards is likely to mitigate the risk of fraud and disappointment going forward.

Of course, these reforms will trickle their way into companies very differently, but any company worth its salt will be able to adapt and ensure that the most crucial employee benefits will continue to be offered despite changes in the tax structure.

Are you an employer who’s looking to adapt your benefits system to work in tandem with the latest tax regulations? Speak to a member of our helpful team today for bespoke advice!

The Continued Shift To Consumer-Directed Health Care

The Continued Shift To Consumer Directed Health Care - The Continued Shift To Consumer-Directed Health Care

Data shows that more and more employers are shifting toward consumer-directed health care, as employers offering a minimum of 1 HDHP (high-deductible health plan) has increased by over 20% since 2016. This is due to employers continually offering HDHPs in addition to more old-school health plans, as employers strive to give their employees more choices regarding their healthcare expenses going forward. An employees’ circumstances and demographics can greatly affect their desire for certain health plans, meaning that employers need to offer a diverse range in order to fulfil employee needs and sustain morale.

Despite this need for employers to offer diverse and competitive packages, they need to ensure that they can manage these costs and be able to offer these plans to employs on a long-term basis. Although more affordable options are becoming available to employers as the desire for consumer-driven healthcare increases, some companies are struggling to offer their employees such packages.

More employees are using HSAs

HSAs (health savings accounts) are being used by more employees than ever before, with usage growing by 60% among those who are eligible. The most eager group to adopt HSAs appears to be millennials, whose participation has almost doubled since 2017, highlighting exponential increasing in adoption among younger employees especially.

Reports have also shown that high-earners aren’t concerned about HDHPs with higher deductibles, as HDHPs consistently fare well among employees with high incomes. Statistics show that HDHP-enrolled people earn 7% more than those enrolled in PPO systems.

Rising premiums

Despite rising premiums, the reduced out-of-pocket risk these come with is making things much easier for employees. Although most employees are seeing their premiums go up, for example, most of these will also be subject to lower deductibles in 2018 and beyond. PPO subscribers with family coverage plans can expect a 9% decrease, while single-coverage plan holders can expect a 7% decrease.

Voluntary benefits

Many employees have needs greater than their own basic health care, and voluntary benefits can help to address this. For example, one may desire accident insurance or hospital indemnity insurance, in addition to insurance covering areas such as identity theft and pet health. Employers have offered 56% more identity theft protections in the last 2 years, while pet insurance offerings have gone up by 80% in the same timeframe.

Are you an employer or employee looking for advice as consumer-directed healthcare becomes more popular? Speak to a member of our well-informed team today!

The Top Employee Benefit Trends You Need to Know About in 2018

Top 5 Employee Benefit Trends for the Rest of 2018 - The Top Employee Benefit Trends You Need to Know About in 2018

2018 has seen the prediction of many employee benefit trends that it’s essential to know about, whether you’re an employee or an employer of a small to large sized business. These trends include changes that may need to be made to finances in response to the new tax bill, customization of benefits, and the introduction of more wellness programs.

Here are five of the top employee benefit treads you need to know about in 2018:

  1. Service Automation

Automation is a big thing in 2018, and many businesses are jumping onboard the train and better automating their business. As technology has advanced, automation tools, like chatbots, have made it much easier for businesses to streamline their processes. Expect to see a rise in chatbot use, as it helps to solve problems in the workplace and even streamline the employee recruitment process.

  1. Tailored Benefits

Instead of offering employees a range of benefits that they don’t really need, many businesses are looking to create a tailored benefit plan, on top of the required benefits, like those stipulated in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Not only do personalized benefits retain existing employees, but they help to attract new employees.

Tailored benefits for employees could include:

  • Medical care or childcare on-site
  • Dry cleaning services
  • Memberships to off-site or on-site gyms
  • Free lunches
  1. Reforms for Tax

The response from businesses in regard to the new tax bill is very likely to vary, but the likelihood is, there are going to be a number of businesses that start offering their employees more benefits. The trend has already been set by major businesses, like Walmart, who are introducing additional benefits for maternity and paternity plans.

There are a number of ways that you can offer your employees better benefits, including:

  • Extra health benefits like coverage for dental and vision
  • Improved health care budgets
  • Higher retirement plan match rates
  1. Wellness Programs

Wellness programs have already been implemented and improved in many businesses, but the trend seems to be stronger than ever. The discounts available for employees that take part in wellness programs have certainly helped with this popularity, although businesses need to make sure they are protected against lawsuits and potential liabilities.

It’s highly likely that more lawsuits are going to crop up in the remainder of 2018, covering the ongoing issues with wellness plans and the sharing of certain employee health information.

  1. Reform for Health Care

It’s very likely that health care will go through another set of changes in 2018, and that means that more changes to your business might be needed. Some of the major employee benefit trends of 2018 are likely to be centered around the health care laws that are going to affect all businesses.

Need advice on lawsuit protection and business insurance, or healthcare reform and health insurance? Get into contact with us today, and make sure you know where you stand with insurance and employee benefit trends.

Preventing Age Discrimination – The Importance of the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act

Why Understanding the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act Is More Important Than Ever - Preventing Age Discrimination – The Importance of the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act

When a business has to lay off employees, for whatever reason, it’s essential that they give extra consideration to the older employees of their workforce. There are a number of key things that employers are not allowed to do in relation to older employees, including:

  • Specifically targeting older workers when reducing the workforce
  • Terminating employment on the grounds of age
  • Giving workers no choice but to sign waivers for age discrimination claims

These rules are governed by the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA). But what exactly is the OWBPA, and what do employers and employees need to know?

What Is the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act?

OWBPA is an Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) amendment and is designed to protect employees over the age of 40 from age discrimination. This includes all cases of:

  • Hiring new employees
  • Terminating employee contracts
  • Work duties

Under OWBPA, to prevent older workers from vulnerability in the working environment, they’re entitled to additional benefits, like no pressure to sign waivers and severance pay. Understanding OWBPA and ADEA rules are crucial to protect the rights of employees and businesses in every industry sector.

The OWBPA applies to workforce reductions, involuntary terminations, exit incentive plans, voluntary departures, insurance provisions, and early retirement plans.

OWBPA and Worker Layoffs

In order to terminate the employment of an employee over the age of 40, a business has to make sure that they provide other grounds for termination that are not related to age. The employer must also provide extra worker considerations when laying off older workers – to prevent issues arising with OWBPA and ADEA.

The regulations are given an even greater weight when an event arises that means more than one employees layoff occurs at once – known as group termination. Age discrimination waiver claims will need to be signed and severance pay information provided, even in cases where group reductions occur with a considerable time in between.

The employer will also need to share essential information with employees, so that the employee can decide for themselves if they wish to agree to the age discrimination waiver. This information includes:

  • Eligibility and time limit of the offer
  • Age of employees retained
  • Age and title of employees terminated

OWBPA and Claim Release

When terminating the employment of an employee over 40, and drafting their release, the employer must follow set rules for a valid claim, including:

  • Contemplation Time – 21 days to consider and 7 days to revoke for individual termination and 45 days to decide for group termination.
  • Legal Consultation – Employers should suggest employee legal consultation.
  • Written Release in Simple Language – Employers must write the release in a way that is easily understandable.
  • Accurate Information – All information provided should be clear and not misleading in any way.
  • ADEA Reference – Employees must refer to the ADEA.
  • Voluntary Consent – Release should be signed completely voluntarily.

Additional consideration must then be given to benefits given, that are more than the current entitlement of the employee. Examples of benefits, include:

  • Reimbursement
  • Expenses for Relocation
  • Severance Pay
  • Health Benefits
  • Notice Pay
  • Services for Outplacement
  • Additional Bonuses
  • Extra Vacation Pay

OWBPA is essential in protecting the rights of all parties involved in employment termination. If you’re worried about employment termination as the employee or employer, and need help understanding the provision of insurance benefits, or where you stand with insurance, then please contact us today.

The Year in Healthcare: A Focus on Cost Management

18 04 EB The year in healthcare A focus on cost management - The Year in Healthcare: A Focus on Cost Management

It appears that cost management is of increasing importance to employers, with employers being willing to experiment with new ways of stemming expenses. There has been a growth of group captives in recent years, whereby employers keep their self-funded plans with group stop-loss insurance. This stems the risk and allows the self-funding of smaller groups.

Although the interest in self-insured captive insurance has grown, there remains to be confusion surrounding the arrangements. The president and founder of Roundstone LLC, Mike Schroeder, outlined 5 common misconceptions in an EBA article recently. Among the misconceptions, it is commonly believed that these captives result in higher costs than fully insured renewals; self-funding them is too complex; and that some businesses are too small to see any real benefits to them.

Mick Rodgers, EBA’s 2017 Adviser of the Year, also reshaped health insurance for his firm, which has a dozen employees serving 256 employers group with 16,530 lives. Rodgers then made 4 healthcare purchasing coalitions, consisting of more than 11,000 members from 64 middle-market employers. The employers had headcounts from 100 to 500 employees, hailing from 35 different states. At a mere $7,065 PEPY as of 2016, their health benefits were 41% less than the US average of $11,990 PEPY.
Healthcare reform efforts go on

Healthcare reform shows no signs of slowing down, with a constant “will they won’t they” situation seeming to surround healthcare reform all through 2017. The Senate didn’t pass GOP legislation, though the industry is still searching for an alternative to the Affordable Care Act’s requirements regarding reporting.

President Trump’s tax reform bill includes a repeal of the individual mandate. This has made employers rather worried if healthy employees decide not to purchase health coverage, as the employers may see potentially adverse selections. The individual mandate’s repeal has worried many business groups, with business groups worrying that it may cause the health insurance marketplace to become volatile and unstable. It may also move costs towards stable health insurance customers and employers too.

Trump signed an executive order in October which ordered federal agencies to take certain actions as a result of federal rule-making. Association health plans could potentially be created by small employers grouping together, allowing them to buy insurance together, rather than via Obamacare. Trump’s executive order also encourages the expansion of low-cost, short-term, limited insurance plans, in addition to using tax-advantaged accounts to pay off healthcare-related expenses.

Employer groups continued to call for the repeal of supposedly harmful ACA taxes throughout 2017. The US Chamber of Commerce and the ERISA Industry Committee wish to see the repeal of the Cadillac tax and the Health Insurance Tax, as these are two notoriously disliked provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

As governments change and power is constantly shifted back and forth in the White House, healthcare plans can inevitably hang in the balance. If you wish to remain abreast of the latest situations (and get great advice) then get in touch with us!

5 Ways to Eliminate Costly Employee Benefit Mistakes

18 04 EB 5 Ways to Eliminate Costly Employee Benefit Mistakes - 5 Ways to Eliminate Costly Employee Benefit Mistakes

Employee benefits can be costly for a small business, often increasing an employee’s base salary by as much as 40%. Despite the costs involved, these benefits are often required in order to keep employees happy and to stop them from working for your competitors.

Many business owners, however, forget about the fees and fines which can be issued when common mistakes occur with their employee benefits. Here we’ve outlined 5 ways of eliminating costly employee benefit mistakes, allowing you to save money and rest assured that you’re doing the right thing.

1. Don’t give them all away for free

If employee benefits are free, the vast majority of people will simply take them. Why? Because they’re free, so they might as well – it’s not coming at any cost to them. However, if you provide benefits which the employee has to pay for or subsidize with their salary, they may think twice about how much they want that benefit. This is a good way of ascertaining how much your employees “actually” want certain benefits.

2.Covering unqualified employees or non-employees

Some (though not many) employees cover relatives or friends by purchasing group health plans. Claim denials, investigations and cancellations can easily come as a result of this. To easily see who is eligible for insurance, check your employee’s working hours via their WR-30.

3. Give them benefits that they actually want

Consider how much your employees are actually benefitting from the benefits you are providing them. For example, if you’ve got a workforce full of Millennials and Gen-Z-ers who are largely 30 and under, they’re probably not too concerned with life insurance coverage or pension plans at this stage in their lives; they’d probably rather have a pay rise!

4. Misinforming your employees about their benefits

Many employees will expect that you, as their employer, are providing them with adequate insurance coverage. If this is not true, however, you need to inform them. You could get yourself in a lot of trouble if you misinform your employees about their benefits, or even if you fail to inform them at all. Consider drafting an annual or quarterly statement for all your employees, informing them of the full scope of their employee benefits.

5. Not filing paperwork correctly

It can be very difficult to file insurance plans for different employees’ specific jobs if you aren’t completely familiar with their duties. Assuming you aren’t micromanaging your employees 24/7, you may find it difficult to detail their duties correctly. You can also run into similar paperwork problems for group health plans, as there is only a small window of time in which to enroll new employees onto the plan. Filing paperwork incorrectly can inevitably lead to costly legal fees should issues arise.

Providing employee benefits allows any businesses to build employee morale and thrive among their competitors. Nonetheless, it can be easy to make mistakes which will cost your business money down the road. Looking for more information and advice on employee benefits and insurance? Get in touch with us now!

Wellness Program Ideas Worth Leveraging

18 03 EB Wellness Program Ideas Worth Leveraging - Wellness Program Ideas Worth Leveraging

A healthy and happy workforce is key to controlling costs in the workplace. By reducing stress and emphasizing wellness, employees benefit and spend less time on sick leave. The company benefits too with increased morale, productivity, and reduced insurance costs.

Other company’s are leveraging these techniques and you may want to consider them as well…

Run “Biggest Loser” Contests

Create a competition to reward the biggest healthy loss of weight within a definite period of time. Rather than measuring actual pounds lost, concentrate on percentage of body weight. This way, individuals who are sensitive about their weight can safely participate. Give bonus points for employees that achieve a healthy BMI regardless of percentage weight loss.

Zero-Gain Challenge

Offer employees the opportunity to earn zero-gain rewards around their birthdays and holidays. Participants will weigh themselves on November 1 and again on January 31. For birthdays they could weigh a month before and a month afterward. Award a prize to every worker who maintains his or her weight through the contest period.

Race Entry Reimbursement

Support your team’s fitness goals by sponsoring them for entry fees into races. These events will give them a challenge to train towards completing those races, furthering your wellness program efforts. Encourage your employees to race together, and you can realize team-building benefits as well.

Fitbit Challenge

Everyone can benefit from moving. Encourage your employees to walk, jog or run more each day by organizing a Fitbit challenge. Provide participants with tracking devices (you may be able to negotiate a discounted price if you purchase in bulk from a retailer) and set a variety of goals to accommodate workers at different fitness levels. Attach a reward to the achievement of each goal; you can award anything from medals or plaques to gift cards and extra time off.

Need other wellness program ideas? Contact us today for assistance with this or any other employee benefits assistance.

Do You Need a Workplace Anti-Bullying Policy?

Do You Need a Workplace Anti Bullying Policy - Do You Need a Workplace Anti-Bullying Policy?

Workplace bullying is a growing concern in the U.S. 96 percent of American employees report having experienced work related intimidation or bullying occurring at least once in their career. Fully 89 percent reported harassing cases that had persisted for greater than one year.

One of the most common kinds of bullying reported was sabotage of the work or credibility of others. While just 4 percent indicate physical abuse, most report extreme verbal abuse and menacing threats as common elements of workplace bullying.

Such bullying invariably leads to negative productivity and is costly to the bottom line of companies. Bullying creates an uncomfortable work environment. Employees doubt their safety. They also doubt the leadership of the company. This brings about lower productivity and higher turnover. It can also lead to lawsuits if the work environment seems to “look the other way”.

While the development of an office anti-bullying plan is necessary, the process can be challenging due to both practical and legal factors to consider. For instance, how do you identify destructive intimidation from friendly teasing? The National Labor Relations Board has complicated the issue having challenged various company bullying policies, usually due to the fact that they find the language within them to be also broad.

As you examine your anti-bullying stand, watch out for these points…

  • Clearly state that your firm is devoted to promoting a considerate, bully-free environment.
  • Define work environment bullying as clearly as you can and include a declaration that your firm recognizes the degrees of harassing that may occur (between managers and also employees, between coworkers, between clients as well as workers, and so on).
    Include a detailed list of the sorts of habits you will not tolerate under the policy.
  • Define the process for reporting bullying incidents. Due to the fact that staff members could be scared of revenge, confidential reporting systems are typically preferred.
  • Outline what happens to employees for violating the anti-bullying plan.
  • Communicate the plan to staff members at all levels within your organization. Make sure each individual signs off that they have read and understood the policy.
  • Take all reported issues of bullying and harassing seriously.

You may want to consult with an attorney specializing in workplace issues to help you form your policy and action plans to be certain they are legal and adequately address the situation.

And once you have established a solid plan, be sure to review your insurance. An EPLI policy can help protect you and your company from claims against your company and its response to reported workplace bullying.