Category Archives: Employee Benefits

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Employers Must Keep Reproductive Health Information About Their Plan Participants Private Under New HIPAA Privacy Rule

Imagine you are a corporate Human Resources/Total Rewards leader who receives a request from a state’s law enforcement agency for health plan records about a plan participant’s abortions or other reproductive health care. How should you respond? Since most company health plans are considered a “HIPAA covered entity,” the request should be generally be denied, … Continue Reading

On the Basis of Sex… Discrimination in Group Health Plans and What Employers Should Know

In just a few days’ time, recently promulgated federal final rules addressing sex-based nondiscrimination in the administration of health care benefits have created a flurry of healthcare industry activity. The angst arises from providers, payers, and certain health plans alike. While the spotlight shines brightest on healthcare providers and health insurers, the focus of this … Continue Reading

Pain and a Half: How DOL’s New Overtime Proposal Could Drastically Change Your Business

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently rocked the business world when it announced a Proposed Rule that, if implemented in its current form, would force employers around the country to increase salaries for millions of currently exempt workers or convert them to non-exempt employees eligible for overtime. The Proposed Rule would dramatically increase the … Continue Reading

As School Bells Ring, Employers Should Review School-Related Activities Leave Policies

Another school year is upon us, which means employers around the country should study up on school-related activities leave policies. While there is no federal law mandating that employers give employees time-off to attend school-related activities for their children, there are many states across the country that do. Employers who fail to do their homework … Continue Reading

Promoting Employee Mental Health Well-Being Pays Off

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the perfect time for employers to check on the mental well-being of their employees and examine their current policies, because doing so will ultimately improve their bottom line. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, workers have reported experiencing stress at work due to compensation not keeping up with inflation, longer … Continue Reading

Your Employee Benefit Plans May Need a Check Up: Nearing the End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Where did the time go? Just a brief 1,199 days after it began, the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) is coming to an end. The PHE formally ends on May 11, 2023, short of any unexpected developments. And that means the time is now (or 4:50 p.m. on May 10, based on historical trends) for benefit plan … Continue Reading

Pay Transparency Law Updates: Hiring in 2023

Recent legislative action across the country suggests that expanding pay transparency requirements will continue to be a major issue for employers to navigate in 2023. Three states—Illinois, Rhode Island, and Washington—recently joined the pay transparency movement by issuing regulations or enacting laws that require some form of pay disclosure to job applicants to promote pay … Continue Reading

Employers Concerned about State Abortion Access Restrictions Weigh Options for Medical Travel Reimbursements

There has never been an ERISA requirement to include elective abortion medical coverage in ERISA group health plans. Even so, many nationwide employers choose to offer it alongside non-elective abortion medical coverage.  Among those employer plan sponsors, there is new concern about how plan participants can practically access this covered medical care, if expensive travel … Continue Reading

Biden Administration Signals MHPAEA Enforcement a Priority with Fiscal 2023 Budget

The Biden Administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2023 serves as a warning to all plan issuers and administrators that enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) is a top priority for the federal government. The proposed budget reflects a substantial and sustained commitment to ramp up enforcement efforts, with specific … Continue Reading

With U.S. Troops Heading to Europe, Employers Should Revisit Military Leave Policies

In the wake of the recent Ukraine invasion, more U.S. troops are being deployed to Europe to support NATO countries. Among these are members of the National Reserve and National Guard, who typically maintain civilian jobs throughout the year, but can be called for duty at any time. With that in mind, now is a … Continue Reading

Family Medical Leave Compliance — A New Years’ Resolution You Should Keep

Given the rapidly spreading omicron variant, employers with as few as five employees are well advised to refresh themselves on their obligations under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and its California counterpart, the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”). Generally, FMLA and CFRA provide 12 weeks of job-protected leave during a 12-month period. Private employers are … Continue Reading

Pay Transparency Requirements on the Rise

Across the country, many states have enacted Equal Pay laws which require employers to comply with a variety of requirements, typically including limits on inquiries about prior salaries and the permissible rationale for pay differentials between similar employees. Now, many states are amending those laws to require companies to disclose the expected pay range of … Continue Reading

Deadline Triggered as COBRA Premium Subsidy Ends

Employers and plans are reminded that they must provide a COBRA subsidy expiration notice no later than September 15, 2021, pursuant to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). ARPA had included some new COBRA obligations for both employers and participants. In particular, as noted in our previous posts, ARPA established a 100 percent … Continue Reading

Should You Consider Offering Cheaper Health Plan Coverage in 2022 for Vaccinated Employees?

If you still have unvaccinated workers in January, might you provide a financial incentive for employees to be vaccinated, by charging them higher healthcare insurance premiums? That is the question facing exhausted but dedicated corporate Human Resources leaders as they approach annual open enrollment season, in which employees are asked to lock in their 2022 … Continue Reading

Tipped and Non-Tipped Work Back Under the Microscope

The old “80/20 rule” is back again for tipped workers under the latest proposed Final Rule issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) last month. Employers in the service industry, especially those employers who take a tip credit and/or implement a tip pool for their employees, should keep an eye on this latest Final Rule. … Continue Reading

New Federal Guidance: Employers May Offer Incentives for Vaccination

An employer may offer an incentive to employees to voluntarily provide documentation or other confirmation that they received a vaccination on their own from a pharmacy, public health department, or other health care provider in the community, according to new guidance issued by the EEOC on May 28, 2021.… Continue Reading

Deadline Looms to Notify Current and FORMER Employees of COBRA Premium Subsidy

Employers, if you had employees who had been on your group health plan who were involuntarily terminated or whose hours were reduced as early as November 1, 2019, read this! If those employees became eligible for COBRA and did not elect COBRA coverage when it was first offered, OR if they originally elected it but … Continue Reading

Weed and the Workplace: Recent Developments in New York, Virginia, and Colorado

Employers take note: recently New York became the 15th state to legalize recreational marijuana use through Senate Bill 854A, and Virginia is not far behind. These and other developments related to marijuana continue to impact the workplace.… Continue Reading

Mandatory Versus Voluntary Vaccinations: An Employer Guide

With COVID-19 vaccines now available to every adult in the United States, employers are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel after a year of uncertainty. But for employers whose workforces spent a year away from the office, a safe return to normalcy presents new legal, practical, and ethical questions.… Continue Reading

ARPA COBRA Premium Subsidy – Time for Employer Plans to Update COBRA Notices

Employers should be busy preparing tailored COBRA continuation coverage notices for certain individuals, addressing complicated election and altered COBRA premium topics that took effect only in recent weeks. Below, we offer practical summaries and specific timing suggestions for the anxiously awaited model notices that have now been released. Notices will soon reach Americans who could … Continue Reading

Considering Incentives for Employee COVID-19 Vaccines – Tips and Traps

This blog was based on guidance which is now outdated. An employer may offer an incentive to employees to voluntarily provide documentation or other confirmation that they received a vaccination on their own from a pharmacy, public health department, or other health care provider in the community, according to new guidance issued by the EEOC … Continue Reading

ERISA Plan Sponsors – Watch Your Participants’ Data! DOL Issues New Cybersecurity Guidance for Retirement Plans

In response to a recent General Accounting Office (GAO) report recommending federal guidance to mitigate cybersecurity risks in retirement plans and to respond to ever-increasing cyber threats to plan participant data and plan assets, the DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) published its first cybersecurity guidance for plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries, record keepers, and plan … Continue Reading

Growing State and Local Equal Pay Protections

Pay equity will be a focus of the Biden Administration, as was made clear in the White House Proclamation on Equal Pay Day last week. But states are not waiting on the federal government to act; several are moving forward with pay transparency and equity laws. California is the first state to enact its own … Continue Reading
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