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Article Summaries

Implementing Flexibility

Beginning It is often best to begin flexibility on a small scale or through a pilot program. If successful, the program can be expanded if the employer or manager and the employees are comfortable with the arrangement. For example, in a telecommuting arrangement, an employer may choose to begin with one or two telecommuters working

Trust Account Requirements

401(k) Plans – Compliance Solutions: Trust Account Requirements Plans that are not set up through insurance contracts are required to hold plan assets in trust to ensure the assets are used solely to benefit plan participants and their beneficiaries. The trust is a separate legal entity and segregates assets of the 401(k) plan from other

Workplace Flexibility

Introduction Workplace flexibility encompasses the full range of options that offer ongoing benefits to organizations, employees, and communities, for example: Scheduling of hours (flextime, compressed workweeks, shift flexibility). Amount of hours (part time, job sharing). Place of work (telecommuting, seasonal relocation). Management of time (meeting-free flexibility, report late). Organization of career (off- and on-ramps, leaves

Introduction to Employee Benefits

Employee benefits play an increasingly important role in the lives of employees and their families and have a significant financial and administrative impact on a business organization. Most companies operate in an environment in which an educated work force has come to expect a comprehensive benefits program. Indeed, the absence of a program or an

Q&A: Exempt Employees and Travel Compensation

Question: Do we have to pay an exempt employee additional compensation to travel on weekends? Answer: Federal and state laws exempt certain employees from wage and hour requirements, such as overtime pay. An “exemption” means that the overtime law does not apply to a particular classification of employees. Properly classified exempt employees are paid a

Q&A: Medicare Part D Coverage

Question: Can you provide me with more information about employer notification requirements for Medicare Part D coverage and any penalties for noncompliance? Answer: Plan sponsors of group health plans offering prescription drug coverage to Medicare eligible individuals have been responsible for issuing notices to Medicare Part D eligible individuals for several years now. The annual

Q&A From the Hotline: Employee Gifts and Taxes

Question: Are there tax or IRS implications if we choose to offer our employees a gift certificate or gift card? Answer: According to the IRS, cash or “cash equivalents” (such as gift cards) are always taxable. However, you can exclude the value of a de minimis benefit you provide to an employee. If you offer

An Employee has a child newly covered by CHIP

Question: An employee has acquired health insurance coverage for her child under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Can this employee drop group coverage for the child due to the coverage through CHIP? Answer: Having her child become newly eligible for CHIP coverage is not a qualifying event which would allow the employee to drop

Understanding Unemployment Insurance

The unemployment compensation (UC) system — also referred to as unemployment insurance (UI) — is designed to temporarily compensate workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own (as determined by applicable state law). UC is triggered when unemployment was brought about by periods of involuntary termination or periods of economic decline. However,

Retirement and Pension Benefits Overview

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is located at 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. with corresponding regulations at 29 C.F.R. Part 2509 et seq. ERISA is a federal law that sets standards of protection for individuals in most voluntarily established, private-sector employee benefit plans. Purpose of ERISA ERISA was intended to:

Learn About Disability and Death Benefits

Introduction Disability benefits are payments that guarantee income when an employee cannot work because of sickness (physical or mental) or accident. The length and cause of the disability are two key factors in determining the form of disability benefit that may apply. Disability periods may be temporary or permanent and may result from an on-the-job

The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), located at 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq., allows employees to balance their work and family life by taking reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. The FMLA seeks to accomplish these purposes in a manner that accommodates the legitimate interests of employers and minimizes the

Intro: Employee Assistance Programs

Introduction Employee assistance programs (EAPs) are an effective vehicle for addressing poor workplace performance that may stem from an employee’s personal problems, including the abuse of alcohol or other drugs. EAPs are an added benefit to employees and their families and clearly communicate employers’ respect and concern for their staff. They also offer an alternative

What are health and welfare benefits?

A group health plan is an employee welfare benefit plan established or maintained by an employer or by an employee organization (such as a union), or both, that provides medical care for participants or their dependents directly or through insurance, reimbursement, or otherwise. Examples of health and welfare benefits include: Medical, dental, visual, psychiatric, or

Can An Employer Recover The Medical Premiums Paid For An Employee If The Employee Goes On Long-term Disability?

From the facts presented, this employee has been on short-term disability and federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave and is now applying for long-term disability based upon her inability to return to work. The employer does not have a specific policy regarding payment of health premiums, except for the condition that the employee

IRS Releases Tax Tip on Filing ACA Information Returns

The IRS has released a Tax Tip to help employers and insurers understand the electronic filing requirements for information returns required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For the 2015 year, as required by the ACA, the IRS will receive and process information returns reporting on individual’s health insurance coverage from insurance companies, self-insured companies, and businesses

Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits?

Eligibility to Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits does not entitle an employee to a leave. The employee needing a family leave should be instructed to follow the employer’s standard practice for requesting time off. The employer has the option to approve the request in accordance with the company’s leave policy. PFL is a wage replacement

Cafeteria Plan and Section 125 Plan?

They are pretty much the same, and the two sets of terms are used interchangeably. A “cafeteria plan” (includes Premium Only Plans and Flexible Spending Accounts) is an employee benefits program designed to take advantage of Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code. The cafeteria plan allows employees to pay certain qualified expenses (such as

Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)

Introduction An individual retirement arrangement, commonly called an individual retirement account (IRA), is a personal retirement savings plan available to anyone, regardless of age, who receives taxable compensation during the year. There is no minimum or required IRA contribution. Traditional IRA A traditional IRA is a personal savings plan that gives employees tax advantages for

Supreme Court Extends Same-Sex Marriage Rights

Supreme Court Extends Same-Sex Marriage Rights On June 26, 2015, in a 5 – 4 decision, the Supreme Court decided in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires all states to grant same-sex marriages and recognize same-sex marriages lawfully performed in other states as a fundamental right.

IRS Tax Tip 2016-14

On February 3, 2016, the IRS released Tax Tip 2016-14, Averaging Full-time and Full-time Equivalent Employees and Why it Matters. For purposes of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers average their number of employees across the months in the year to see whether they will be an applicable large employer (ALE). According to recently-issued Tax

Texas Unemployment Compensation

Texas’ unemployment insurance (UI) law is located at Tex. Labor Code § 201.001 et seq. Texas’ UI program provides weekly unemployment insurance payments to workers who lose their job through no fault of their own. To qualify for benefits, workers must:   Have earned sufficient base period wages from covered employers. Have become unemployed through