Benefits

Compensation, Legal Issues

Labor Department Going After More Wage and Hour Laws Violations

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Employees in New York and California are being cheated out of millions in wages by their employers, a new study reveals, and the U.S. Department of Labor wants to find more employers who are skirting the law.

The wage study was conducted by the Eastern Research Group and commissioned by the Labor Department to measure the possible socio-economic impacts of minimum wage violations in California and New York. These two states were selected for the study because of their large workforce. Read more…

Benefits, HR Management

Avoiding the Holiday PTO Trap: You Need to Get Line Managers On Board

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If you work in HR, this is the time of year when you may be itching to discuss holiday PTO with line managers.

But there is likely a topic that you are hesitant to broach because it could put the line manager on the defensive: Whether employees who are owed PTO (paid time off) are actually going to be working from home when the books say they are officially “off.”

This is what I like to call the “Holiday PTO Trap.” Read more…

Benefits, HR News & Trends

Small Businesses Drop Health Coverage Due to Obamacare Alternatives

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For two decades Atlanta restaurant owner Jim Dunn offered a group health plan to his managers and helped pay for it. That ended Dec. 1, after the Affordable Care Act made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Health-law subsidies for workers to buy their own coverage combined with years of rising costs in the company plan made dropping the plan an obvious – though not easy – choice.

“I had a lot of regrets going into it,” Dunn, who owns three Italian Oven restaurants in suburban Atlanta, said of his decision. “I don’t think I have as many now — only because I’ve seen the affordability factor for my managers improve.” Read more…

Benefits, HR News & Trends

Employers Love Wellness Plans, But the Question is – Do They Even Work?

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If you get health insurance at work, chances are you have some sort of wellness plan, too. But so far there’s no real evidence as to whether these plans work.

One thing we do know is that wellness is particularly popular with employers right now, as they seek ways to slow the rise of health spending. These initiatives can range from urging workers to use the stairs all the way to requiring comprehensive health screenings.

The 2014 survey of employers by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 98 percent of large employers and 73 percent of smaller employers offer at least one wellness program. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of KFF.) Read more…

Benefits, HR Management

The Challenges an Employee May Have Switching to a Spouse’s Insurance

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If a married couple who each have health insurance through a job want to switch coverage from one employer to the other, usually it’s a snap.

During the fall open enrollment period the husband, for example, can simply drop his on-the-job coverage for the new year and his wife can add him to her plan Jan. 1.

Since many companies have calendar year coverage periods, that’s the way it typically works. Read more…

Compensation, Rewards & Recognition

Believe It or Not, Promotions Are Also Viewed as Workplace Rewards

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Promotions are a form of reward, even though they don’t always jingle like direct cash.

A jump in title status alone is sometimes enough to be strong motivation for greater employee engagement. Psychic income, whether intrinsic or extrinsic in origin, should count as compensation, anyway, since it is part of the employee value proposition.

Movement into a higher pay classification generally means more aggressive raises, too. And when a promotional increase accompanies hierarchical advancement, the positive consequences are even greater. There are also situations when promotions are used as rewards in place of any formal pay for performance program. Read more…

Benefits, Legal Issues

Biggest Loser Contests at Work? Only If They Pass Muster With the EEOC

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By Howard Mavity

We are again running a Biggest Loser Contest among our 31 offices and will award prizes, beginning at $1,000, to individuals who lose the most weight.

I do not watch reality shows and am generally cynical about such programs. However, I am happily eating my own words. Employees are having fun with the contest and the competition has generated a lot of camaraderie and playful competition.

When I visit one office, someone will only half-jokingly ask me to leave donuts on the desk of one of their “weight loss foes” in the next office I visit. Folks have regaled me with their elaborate preparation and routine for winning the contest. Their approach reminded me of my pre-race and pre-fight preparation of a few years ago. Read more…

Benefits, HR News & Trends

Feds Warn Employers Not to Dump Sick Workers From Health Plans

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As employers try to minimize expenses under the health law, the Obama Administration has warned them against paying high-cost workers to leave the company medical plan and buy coverage elsewhere.

Such a move would unlawfully discriminate against employees based on their health status, three federal agencies said in a bulletin issued this month.

Brokers and consultants have been offering to save large employers money by shifting workers with expensive conditions such as hepatitis or hemophilia into insurance marketplace exchanges established by the health law, Kaiser Health News reported last May. Read more…

Benefits, Legal Issues

EEOC to Offer Employers Guidance on Wellness Programs

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By Eric B. Meyer

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is obsessed with wellness programs.

Or, as the EEOC likes to describe them “‘so-called’ wellness programs.” And not in a “yay, so-called wellness programs are super” kinda way.

No, in recent months, the EEOC has initiated litigation against companies (example, example, example) claiming that they violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Non-Disclosure Act (GINA) by both requiring medical examination and penalizing employees who decline to participate. Read more…

Benefits, HR Management

Big Changes For Workplace Health Plans: 6 Pitfalls to Watch For in 2015

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You don’t get a pass this year on big health insurance decisions because you and your employees are not shopping in an Affordable Care Act marketplace.

Employer medical plans — where most working-age folks get coverage — are changing too.

Rising costs, a looming tax on rich benefit packages and the idea that people should buy medical treatment the way they shop for cell phones have increased odds that workplace plans will be very different in 2015. Read more…