6 Open Enrollment Items For Your To-Do List

6 Open Enrollment Items For Your To-Do List

When many of us think of fall, our mind wanders to the changing colors on trees, raking leaves and football.  Human resource and benefit professionals must have one more thing top of mind–open enrollment.  Annually, HR and benefit professionals must provide employees with options for the next plan year. The to-do list should include the following:

Summary of Benefits & Coverage (SBC). The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires you to provide an SBC to all applicants and enrollees for all group health plans, except for those that are excepted benefits under HIPAA (e.g., stand-alone dental, vision, most Health FSAs). This requirement is effective for open enrollment periods that started on or after September 23, 2012.

Grandfathered Plan Notices. Employers must send this notice to all participants if the plan is to maintain its grandfathered status. Grandfathered plans do not have to comply with some of the rules related to the ACA. However, they must comply with other rules, like annual and lifetime limits, dependent coverage up to age 26, rescission and limits on preexisting condition exclusions (PCEs).

Patient Protection Disclosures. Also under the ACA, employers must notify participants of their right to designate any primary care provider who participates in the network. If the plan allows for the designation of a primary care provider for a child or for an obstetric/gynecological care provider, these must also be included in the notice.

Medicare Part D Creditable Coverage Notices. All employer-sponsored plans that offer a prescription drug benefit must annually notify participants as to whether their coverage is creditable or non-creditable. The deadline to mail these notices is October 15. The Medicare Part D annual enrollment period is October 15 through December 7. This will require notices to go out prior to most plans being finalized. Any changes to creditable status once a plan is finalized will require another round of notices to be sent.

NOTE:  This notice requirement is only part of what the plan sponsor is required to do for compliance.  Please refer to CMS for online reporting instructions as well as additional requirements for these notices.

COBRA Qualified Beneficiary Communications. COBRA regulations, as amended by HIPAA require many notices; one of those is the Open Enrollment Notification. This requirement states that employers must provide the same rights to COBRA Continuees during an open enrollment period that is offered to active employees. This notice is required even if the only change is the COBRA rates.  The open enrollment packet must be sent to:

  • Possible Electees (individuals in their 60-day election period)
  • Electees (individuals who have elected but have not yet paid)
  • Continuees (individuals who have elected and paid)

Health FSAs. Health FSAs are another open enrollment challenge. If the Health FSA is a HIPAA-excepted benefit and the employer need only offer COBRA when the FSA account is underspent, then the COBRA obligation ends at the end of the first plan year. However, if the employer somehow does not qualify for the limited obligation, the employer must provide the opportunity to elect Health FSA coverage for the next plan year or until COBRA has been exhausted. Also, if the COBRA period is also covered by USERRA because of a military leave of absence, the employer must continue to offer the Health FSA.

For plan years 2014, Health FSAs have a $2,500 salary reduction contribution limit. This limit was not changed for 2015. Plan documents and Summary Plan Descriptions must be revised if they weren’t upda

4 Tips For Impressing New Hires On Day One

4 Tips For Impressing New Hires On Day One

“You never get a second chance to make a (good) first impression” is common advice doled out to job interviewees or new company hires. Companies should also consider this when they contemplate how to help make their new employees feel comfortable while getting up to speed as quickly and painlessly as possible. A positive onboarding experience should begin on day one, promoting an easier adaptation to the company’s culture, increasing employee retention and boosting overall morale.

Here are four simple actions employers can take:

  1. Complete onboarding forms in advance.

Hopefully, you utilize technology so you can avoid dumping an immediate avalanche of enrollment forms onto the new hire.  Online onboarding will enable the new employee to complete most of the preliminary paperwork before the start date.  Getting this out of the way will help make that first day more productive and enjoyable.

  1. Equip the workstation or office.

Make sure the new employee already has all of the necessary equipment and supplies in place — do not make them wait endlessly for a crucial piece of furniture/equipment/hardware to get them up and running. Having someone yell out, “Did we ever order a desk and computer for the new marketing guy?” doesn’t exactly make the new guy or gal feel welcome or respected.

  1. Assign a mentor or peer coach.

Fans of the Seinfeld sitcom may recall an episode where George Costanza arrives on his first day at work only to sit alone and bored in a sparse, gloomy office. Suddenly, a man bursts through the door with a file in his hand and tells George to “work on the Penske file.” George awkwardly responds that he will, but it was obvious to the audience that he had no idea how or where to begin.

George could have benefited from having been assigned a mentor or peer coach to provide insight about office protocol, organizational structure, etc. Many employees prematurely leave a new job because of insufficient orientation and a manager’s unreasonable expectations. Mentoring goes a long way toward preventing the new employee from feeling lost or neglected by management.

  1. Make it easy to meet other colleagues.

Organize introductions to fellow employees at prearranged meetings, or schedule small lunch groups throughout the week. The new employee may have a hard time getting acquainted if everyone just eats their dry, tuna sandwiches hunched over their computers. Informal lunch gatherings provide a casual and relaxed way to meet other team members.

What else do you do to make a good first impression on your new employees?

Can you prove your ACA compliance?

Can you prove your ACA compliance?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) employer mandates and deadlines are putting plenty of fear, worry and doubt into those who must comply with reporting requirements.  Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) should be especially aware of their ACA obligations to employees and the IRS.

Enforcement

Since the ACA became a law, the IRS has managed over 40 provisions regarding implementation of ACA.

Perhaps the most pressing from an employer’s viewpoint is play or pay.  Large employers (50+ FTEs) who do not offer coverage for all of their full-time employees, offer unaffordable minimum essential coverage or offer plans with high out-of-pocket costs could face tax penalties.

The employer would also be subject to a tax penalty if there is at least one full-time employee certified as having purchased health insurance through an exchange and was eligible for a tax credit or subsidy.

Fines

Employer fines imposed for ACA noncompliance are referred to as employer shared responsibility paymentsThe full details of who will have to pay, how much to pay and under what circumstances is pretty complicated, but rest assured those fines can be substantial. The IRS official Q&A about this contained 56 entries when it was updated as of May 20, 2015.

Data

ALEs should have been recording and compiling detailed, monthly information as of January 1, 2015, in order to meet filing requirements. Some required data includes:

  • Federal Employer Identification Numbers (FEIN) within a controlled group
  • Total employees
  • Total full-time employees
  • Total months covered
  • Validation that minimum essential coverage was offered, affordable and met the minimum value requirements
  • Personal information, including Social Security Number and birth date

Forms

Required reporting will be done via four IRS forms:

  • 1094-B (Transmittal of Health Coverage Information Returns)
  • 1094-C (Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns)
  • 1095-B (Health Coverage)
  • 1095-C (Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage).

ALEs will file Forms 1094-C and 1095-C, while the coverage provider or self-insured plan sponsor has the legal obligation to furnish forms 1094-B and 1095-B to the plan participants.

Deadlines

Full-time equivalent (FTE) employees must receive their completed forms by February 1, 2016 (due to January 31 falling on Sunday). The paper reporting forms filed with the IRS must be sent in by February 29 (due to leap year) or March 31 for electronic filing.  Employers should already be implementing a solution that can manage ACA data and report compliance.

Be prepared

The challenges of ACA compliance can be met with the right solution that manages employee data, time and attendance, HR, payroll, and benefits so an employer is able to quickly review data. If you use outside assistance, make sure they provide a defined project plan to ensure your compliance.

Action plan

  • Know exactly what should be done
  • Define a process
  • Manage and compile data
  • Understand the forms and instructions
  • Meet the deadlines

The bottom line?  Be ready – you have to comply!

How’s your company’s vision?

How’s your company’s vision?

Can you see what’s coming for employee health care reporting?  The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is burdensome and complex with changes to many different laws or sections of our tax code.   With nearly 100 provisions since its enactment, it seems to continually impact employer responsibilities and reporting.

Determining if your company is an applicable large employer (ALE) is just one of the ACA requirements.  An employer with more than 50 full-time (or an equivalent combination of full-time and part-time) employees is an ALE.  An ALE must offer affordable health plans that provide at least a minimum level of coverage to their full-time employees (and their dependents), or possibly be subject to the employer shared responsibility penalty.  Though no employer shared responsibility payments were assessed for 2014, employers must use their 2014 workforce information (e.g., number of employees, hours of service) to determine their criteria for 2015, since the number of employees is a calculated value of full-time and part-time employees over the last 12 months.

The ACA also amended the tax code, adding sections 6055 and 6056. ALEs are required to file information returns with the IRS and provide statements to their full-time employees about health insurance coverage offered by the employer.

Section 6055 Section 6056
Insurers and self-funded plans Applicable large employers
Enforce the individual mandate Enforce the employer mandate
Show all individuals who are covered Show who has been offered coverage
Form 1094 B transmittal to the IRS Form 1094 C; ALE’s transmittal to the IRS
Form 1095 B notice to the individual Form 1095 C;  ALE’s notice to the employee

As you can see, it’s critical that all your workforce data is in one location, making it easy to track critical employee and dependent data needed for required ACA reporting:

  • Required identifying information
  • Availability of required coverage
  • Waivers of available coverage
  • Affordability of plans

Highflyer HR’s Human Capital Management (HCM) technology that helps you determine your ALE status and maximum waiting periods for medical enrollments, in addition to running applicable self-funded or fully insured reports.  Highflyer HR also provides appropriate filing for companies that fall under the exception reporting for this year.  And if you’re curious about potential penalties due to the non-affordability of offered plans, Highflyer HR can show you proactive estimates.

Highflyer HR makes adhering to ACA requirements easier and more efficient. With expert support from our staff, iSolved makes sure you have all of the necessary data collection, forms and procedures so you don’t lose sight of vital compliance issues.

Contact us at 844.398.7800 for more about Highflyer HR and health care reporting compliance.

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FLSA Lawsuits Are On The Rise

FLSA Lawsuits Are On The Rise

Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lawsuits numbered over 7,000 in 2012 alone.  Companies such as Walmart, Staples, Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan Chase, Oracle, CVS, Tyson Foods, Lowe’s and AT&T have been subject to significant FLSA penalties.

FLSA lawsuits don’t target specific types of companies; every company could be faced with this challenge and the ensuing penalties.

Determining violations

In order to determine violations, investigators generally look at the following five areas.

Earnings codes

Your company’s earnings codes may be the easiest way to identify compensation being improperly excluded from the regular rate. In an FLSA lawsuit investigation, investigators tend to first look at safety, incentive, bonus, auto allowance, operator incentive and per diem.

Deduction codes

Looking at your list of deductions codes can also reveal existing issues such as appropriate deductions or if the deductions reduce wages below minimum wage.  Investigators will pay special attention to advances, laundry, safety glasses, tools, uniform fees and shoes and union dues.

It’s important to remember to document anything that requires employee authorization and to avoid deductions that cause pay to go below minimum wage.

Your time system

Your time and attendance rules and the resulting employee time punches can be one wage and hour issue, but there are several causes:

  • Rounding rules – make sure rounding is fair
  • Automatic meal period deductions – single largest reason for litigation; if you require employees to punch out/in rather than auto deduct, you have proof of meal periods
  • Time clock rules treat clocking in early or late the same for everyone
  • Shift hours overlaps work weeks; this may cause underpay one week and overpay the next week

Time card dangers

There are a few areas which investigators focus on as possible clues to inappropriate time clock management.

  • Identical in/out and meal period times for almost every day – is the employee actually punching?
  • No out/in and meal time punches – hard to prove if nothing is documented
  • Exact time punches when shift begins
  • Employee time punches are almost the same exact time – possibly buddy punching

Pay stub issues

  • Paid for fewer hours than shown on time record
  • Deductions for work required equipment (e.g., uniforms, tools)
  • Employee was paid a shift differential or bonus instead of overtime pay

Avoiding difficult, expensive and time-consuming business problems are now a part of our reality with FLSA lawsuits.  Proper record keeping and documentation is vital, along with a time and attendance system that integrates with payroll and other business functions.

Your systems should have consistent rules across the board, maintain documentation, have easy data management and reports to prove your compliance.

 

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