Spencer and Benefits NetNews – July 18, 2014

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July 18, 2014

Updated Pregnancy Discrimination Guidance “Extremely Far-Reaching”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released comprehensive, updated guidance on pregnancy discrimination and related issues, including the intersections between pregnancy and the ADA, the FMLA, and a section on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) requirement that employers provide “reasonable break time” for nursing mothers. The updated guidance is “extremely far-reaching,” according to David Fram, disability law expert and director of ADA & EEO services for the National Employment Law Institute…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

PBGC Issues Moratorium On Enforcement Of 4062(e) Cases

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has announced a moratorium, until the end of 2014, on the enforcement of 4062(e) cases. The moratorium will enable the PBGC to ensure that its efforts are targeted to cases where pensions are genuinely at risk…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

July 17, 2014

HSA Enrollment Increasing, But HSA Proficiency Remains Low

Health savings account (HSA) enrollment is increasing, and HSAs provide employees with a valuable financial tool, according to two recent surveys from America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). However, a study from Alegeus Technologies found that employees’ understanding of HSAs remains low…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Multiemployer Plans Are Severely Underfunded: PBGC

Despite substantial economic and market gains, multiemployer pension plans covering about 1.5 million individuals are severely underfunded, threatening benefit cuts for current and future retirees, according to the
FY 2013 Projections Report by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). However, the financial condition for private single-employer plans is projected to improve…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Financial Incentives Drive Employee Engagement In Wellness Programs

Strong communication strategies, employee rewards, and a combination of up front incentives are commonly offered by companies with the highest level of employee engagement in workplace wellness programs. These are among the findings of an in-depth statistical analysis conducted by The Vitality Group on its client base to quantify the impact of different factors on engagement. High participation can be achieved regardless of industry, company size, and geographic concentration, the wellness program company stated…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

July 16, 2014

PBGC Issues August 2014 Interest Rates For Valuing Terminating Pension Plans

For single-employer pension plans terminating July through September 2014, and for multiemployer plans involved in a mass withdrawal, the interest rate established by the PBGC for calculating immediate annuities is 3.43, slightly down from the 3.47 percent rate that applied in April through June 2014. The interest rate for calculating immediate lump sums in August 2014 is 1.25 percent, the same rate that applied in July 2014…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

ACA Will Lead To Continued Decline In VEBAs

In recent years, employers have been using voluntary employee beneficiary associations (VEBAs) to provide retiree health coverage. However, due to retiree coverage provisions available through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the number of VEBAs is likely to decline as employers shift pre-65 retirees to coverage through the health insurance exchanges. This is the contention of the Pension Research Council (PRC) in the recent report,
What’s Next for VEBAs? The Impact of Declining Employer-Provided Health Care Coverage and the Affordable Care Act

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Employee Received All Leave To Which He Was Entitled, FMLA Claims Properly Dismissed: Third Circuit

Because an employee received all the leave to which he was due under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and suffered no adverse employment consequences for doing so, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed a district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of an employer on his FMLA interference and retaliation claims in
Ross v. Gilhuly (No. 13-2437). The employee failed to allege that his employer withheld any entitlement guaranteed by the FMLA, thus he failed to state a claim for interference. With respect to his retaliation claim, the fact that the employee was placed on a performance improvement plan based on documented performance problems well before the employer knew he was sick defeated any retaliatory inference based on timing…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

July 15, 2014

Consider How Today’s Health Care Decisions Will Impact Your Workforce In Near Future

Because an organization’s approach to the provision of employee health care can significantly affect its ability to attract and retain a suitable workforce, employers should, in the near future, take the following recommended actions, according to a recently-released article in the World at Work Journal. An examination of a company’s total rewards strategy, including an analysis of which workforce segments are most significant and which rewards the employees in those segments value, is the first recommendation of Laurie Bienstock, Jill Havely, and Jane Jensen, authors of
How Health-Care Reform Will Affect Total Rewards. Companies also should consider which employee behaviors improve productivity and how health care benefits might foster those behaviors, they said, and employers should be clear about what role health care benefits play in their organization’s employment brand image…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Seasonal Stress Might Affect Open Enrollment Participation

Shopping for health insurance during the end of the year and the holiday season might not be ideal for many Americans. Although the end of the year is traditionally open enrollment season for health insurance, a study by Katherine Swartz and John A. Graves published in
Health Affairs, recommends shifting open enrollment for the Health Insurance Exchange to the period between February 15 and April 15…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

July 14, 2014

Federal Interest Rates Announced For Pensions

The following interest rates have been announced for use in the operation and administration of qualified pension plans…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Democrats Move To Blunt Hobby Lobby Impact

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent determination that Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraceptive coverage regulations violate the religious rights of closely held private corporations (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Burwell), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and his Senate Democratic colleagues are introducing the
Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act. The bill, introduced on July 9, is designed to restore the ACA’s contraceptive coverage requirement and “to protect coverage of other health services from employers who want to impose their beliefs on their employees by denying benefits,” according to Harkin…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Automatic Enrollment Will Burden Retail Industry Due To High Turnover Rates

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) automatic enrollment provision forces employers to automatically enroll employees into a health plan that they may not want or need, according to the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). The group recently endorsed legislation introduced by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) that repeals the automatic enrollment provision of the ACA. The bill, the Auto Enroll Repeal Act (S. 2546) reduces the complex administrative challenges imposed on retailers under the health law…

(Read Intelliconnect) »