Wednesday, June 1, 2016

New benefits admin system? 4 keys to making the right pick

by Jared Bilski

With HR departments at small companies stretched so thin (many times one staffer handles all of HR), it’s no surprise many small companies are using benefits administration systems for their needs. But with new software vendors popping up every day, how do HR pros find the right system?

At the Dig|Benefits Conference in Austin, TX, Joshua N. Jeffries, a partner with Arkin Youngentob Associates, LLC, outline the four most important steps small employers should take when selecting an “efficient, cost-effective” benefits administration system:

Selection checklist

Step 1: Define your needs. What are you looking for in a benefits administration system? This step needs to go beyond HR and incorporate all departments within the company. Jeffries reminded HR pros that Benefits has one of the top Profit/Loss (P/L) line items for most businesses. Any soft-dollar spending in this area needs to be justified in your compensation plans.

Step 2: Evaluate your vendor. With the sheer number of vendors out there, this step can seem a bit daunting. But the process is much less intimidating when HR pros break it down into small questions.

Click here for entire article. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tip Tuesday! FMLA violation? Worker said he was sick, walked off the job and was fired

by Christian Schappel

Here’s a scenario any manager could learn a valuable FMLA lesson from. 

An employee gets into an argument with his supervisor. A while later, still a little shaken up from the argument, the man begins to experience chest pains. He then tells a co-worker he thinks he may be having a heart attack.

The employee then tells the co-worker to tell their supervisor that he’s leaving for the day as a result of his symptoms, which the co-worker does.

But it was a well-known company practice that employees had to inform a supervisor directly before leaving work.

So the company fired the man that afternoon. The employee then sued, claiming FMLA interference (shortly after his termination had been processed, he submitted paperwork that he was suffering from a serious health condition).

Was this interference?

That’s how it happened … for real

This is the story of Randy Greene, a truck driver, and his employer YRC Inc., a freight company.

Greene thought he might have been having a heart attack, so he left work without completing his route for the day.

YRC essentially took this as a “voluntary quit” and processed his termination.

Click here for entire article. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Healthcare Reform 4 key areas to check to make sure your health plan is in compliance

by Jared Bilski

The sheer complexity of changing federal regs as well as the impact of recent landmark court rulings on benefits plans make assessing health-plan compliance a critical task that HR pros need to put at the top of their to-do list.  

In fact, ERISA attorney Daniel N. Kuperstein is warning employers everywhere that most health plans aren’t fully compliant with the host of regs they’re subject to.

Almighty plan document

A proper assessment of your health plan starts with the plan document, Kuperstein says. Simply put: If your plan doc doesn’t gibe with how your benefits are actually provided to employees, you’re out of compliance.

Well-meaning employers will often get themselves into trouble by offering benefits and perks that aren’t detailed in the company’s plan document.

On top of an up-to-date plan document, employers have to make sure none of the language in their summary plan descriptions, benefits-related policies and benefits communications contradicts what’s written in the official plan document.

Some specific documents employers will want to review include: Employee notices, COBRA offerings and documents, FMLA info and health plan non-discrimination testing.

For a sample health plan compliance assessment checklist, visit. In addition, here are some major changes in the benefits world to keep in mind when it comes to compliance:

Click here for entire article.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Careful — new OT rule could create 2 more landmines for employers


The DOL’s new overtime rule will likely cause lots of currently exempt employees to begrudgingly begin punching a time clock. This may lead to two unintended consequences. 

Timesheet fraud

For starters, the changes to the FLSA’s overtime regulations are likely to exacerbate an already troubling issue for employers: timesheet fraud.
Of course, you want to believe that all employees will be honest about their “hours worked” when it comes to filling out their timesheets. But timesheet fraud is a real problem that can take a huge chunk out of employers’ bottom lines — especially for those in industries and jobs where it’s easy for workers to cheat.

Plus, the DOL’s new overtime rule will likely see a lot of formerly exempt employees punching a timecard for the first time in their careers. And resentment for having to do this may lead some staff to take a few liberties with their timekeeping.

What to watch for

The best way to prevent time sheet fraud – a.k.a., wage theft – is to be aware of how employees can engage in fraudulent timekeeping.

Click here for entire article. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Flexible work time makes employees less stressed and more productive

by Guest Author

Does flexible work time make actually employees more productive and is it feasible for your company? Guest author Pierce Ivory explores just how effective flexible work time can be for employers of all stripes.

Employees are an essential part of every business. They will determine whether or not a company sinks or swims. If you have hard-working, productive, employees, then you’ll see a lot of success. Your business will work like an efficient machine, with all the cogs working in harmony. On the other hand, unproductive employees can be damaging to your business. They can slow your business down and mean you struggle to make any money.

It’s vitally important that a business knows how to manage their employees properly. This means ensuring they stay productive while caring for their health too. If your staff are stressed or in poor health, then it’s bad for them and your business. No one can work to their full potential when stressed; they become unproductive.

So, what can you do to make employees more productive and stress-free? Well, there are many ideas and theories out there surrounding this topic. However, I’m going to focus on something that’s become a recent phenomenon. The concept of flexible work time has been floating around the business world for years. Allowing your employees to be flexible when they work, as opposed to having a strict working schedule. There have been studies that suggest flexible working makes employees stress free and more productive. But, how? How can flexible work time do this? Well, I did some research and found out how these things are connected.

Click here for entire article. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tip Tuesday! When it comes to employee engagement, ‘one-size-fits-all’ isn’t working

by Tim Gould

There’s bad news for organizations working hard to improve employee engagement: Overall, it’s still declining.  

With so much time and energy being focused on this issue, what is still going wrong? In order to get some answers, Quantum Workplace — a company that offers an employee feedback platform — conducted an in-depth survey to see the macro and micro trends in  employee engagement.

Their infographic below delves into how different types of employees’ engagement are driven by different factors.

The takeaway? It’s time to stop approaching engagement with “one-size-fits-all” strategies.

Some highlights include:

  • In 2013, 68% of employees were engaged. That fell to 65.3% in 2015.
  • Having leaders who are committed to making the organization a great place to work is the number one factor driving engagement.
  • For employees between the ages of 26 and 35, having a job that allows them to use their strengths became more important. That factor jumped up 5 ranking spots as an influencer of engagement.
  • While 72% of men and 67.9% of women are engaged, just 40.9% of employees of another gender identity are.
Click here for entire article. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

EEOC issues final wellness rule: What’s allowed, what isn’t

by Christian Schappel

Finally, employers have the info they’ve been seeking on how to design their wellness programs so they don’t violate the ADA — or other federal laws. 

The EEOC has been promising for a while now to clear the air when it comes to what kinds of wellness incentives are legal — and when non-participation penalties become so steep as to render a wellness program “involuntary” and, thus, illegal under the ADA.

Now, more than a year after the EEOC issued a proposed rule on the subject, the final rule has dropped. (Spoiler alert: It closely mirrors the proposal.)

The problem

Here’s the problem the final rule was meant to address: When the ADA was passed in 1990, it said it was permissible for employers to conduct medial inquiries and examinations of employees as part of “voluntary” “health programs” (a.k.a., wellness programs). The problem was those two terms were never clearly defined.

Then along came HIPAA and the ACA, which said employers could offer incentives to encourage employees to participate in wellness programs — so that’s what employers did.

Fast forward to 2014. With healthcare costs skyrocketing, some employers got pretty aggressive in their wellness plans, tying bigger incentives (i.e., penalties) to non-participation.

Then the EEOC got the itch to start going after employer wellness programs it felt punished employees too harshly for not participating in wellness initiatives.

Click here for entire article.