Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – August 24, 2018

 

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DOL provides ERISA compliance assistance for association health plans

The Department of Labor has released an ERISA compliance assistance publication for newly-created association health plans (AHPs). In the publication, the DOL noted that ERISA sets standards of conduct for plan sponsors and employers that manage group health plans (including AHPs) and their assets.

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

GSA issues 2019 CONUS per diems

The General Services Administration (GSA) has announced its fiscal year (FY) 2019 Continental U.S. (CONUS) per diem reimbursement rates. The GSA rates are often a predictor of the per diem rates set by the IRS. The IRS is expected to release its annual special per diem rates and guidance for taxpayers later in 2018. The CONUS per diem rate is made up of three allowances: the standard lodging allowance; the meals allowance; and the incidental expense allowance.

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS private letter ruling approves 401k ‘match’ to student loan repayments

In Private Letter Ruling (PLR) 201833012, the IRS has approved an arrangement under which an employer “matches” employee student loan repayments by making non-elective contributions to its 401k plan on behalf of the employees paying the loans. While the guidance is only citable authority for the taxpayer who requested the ruling, it can help guide employers who wish to provide a student loan repayment plan to employees.

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

2018 monthly national average premium provided

The IRS has issued guidance providing the 2018 monthly national average premium for qualified health plans that have a bronze level of coverage for taxpayers to use in determining their maximum individual shared responsibility payment under Code Sec. 5000A(c)(1)(B). An explanation of the methodology used to determine the monthly national average premium amount also is provided.

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Class claims that Marriott’s COBRA notice was deficient certified

Claims by a fired Marriott housekeeper that the COBRA notice she received, which Marriott admittedly sent to about 15,000 other terminated employees over a four-year period, was deficient were certified as a Rule 23 class by a federal district court in Florida. Although Marriott tried to defeat class certification by arguing, in essence, that the housekeeper’s claims were not typical of the class because of her personal characteristics, including not understanding English, and that resolution of the claims would require inquiry into the motivations of thousands of class members, this was not the question. Rather, whether a COBRA notice is adequate information is based on an objective determination of whether notice complies with the letter of the statute and is understandable by an average plan participant, stressed the court.

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Employer didn’t violate FMLA by not reducing employee’s absences while on leave

An employee who was fired for excessive absences could not claim FMLA interference because his employer did not reduce his accumulated absences under its absence reduction policy while the employee was on FMLA leave, a federal district court in Ohio ruled. In granting the employer’s motion for summary judgment, the court found that the employer’s absence reduction policy, predicated on 30 days of perfect attendance, which did not include time spent on FMLA leave, was a benefit to which the employee was not entitled while on FMLA leave.

        (Read Intelliconnect) »