Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – February 2, 2018


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Featured This Week


New Reports




February 2, 2018


Report shows continued shift toward consumer-directed health care

The third annual “State of Employee Benefits” report published by Benefitfocus, Inc., shows a continued shift toward consumer-directed health care, with the rate of employers offering at least one high-deductible health plan (HDHP) increasing more than 20 percent since 2016. This growth primarily stems from employers offering HDHPs alongside traditional health plans, reflecting the increased commitment among employers to offer more choice to employees. With respect to enrollment, the data indicates that employees’ health plan preference and benefits needs differ by demographic criteria, making plan diversity critical. The report is derived from the analysis of anonymous employee benefit election data of more than 1.3 million consumers from 540 large employers….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

One-third of employers plan to put corporate income tax savings toward employee rewards

Despite recent announcements by some large well-known organizations delivering one-time bonuses and increases to minimum wage rates, the recent cuts in corporate taxes are triggering some employers to use tax savings for a broader range of employee investments. According to Mercer’s Impact of US Corporate Tax Reform on Employee Rewards poll, nearly one-third (32 percent) of employers expect to redirect some portion of corporate income tax savings into their employee reward programs….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

February 1, 2018


Workers’ confidence about the future of the health care system is low

Workers’ confidence about specific aspects of the health care system overall is mixed, and falls the further out into the future one looks, according to recent research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). The 2017 Health and Workplace Benefits Survey found that while 45 percent of workers are extremely or very confident about their ability to get the treatments the need today, only 34 percent are confident about their ability to get needed treatments during the next 10 years, and just 26 percent are confident about this once they are eligible for Medicare….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Court won’t reconsider denial of summary judgment to employer who arguably fired worker based on FMLA-qualifying absences

An employer who fired a worker after he received three disciplinary notices, two of which may have been issued based on FMLA-qualifying absences, failed to persuade a Kentucky federal court to reconsider its prior decision denying summary judgment on the employee’s FMLA interference and retaliation claims. The court rejected the employee’s assertion that the employer had access to medical records of his “chronic” back condition through the third-party benefits administrator, but found that triable issues still existed as to whether the employer had notice of his potential need for FMLA leave based on the fact that he called in sick every day, provided other medical records, and was instructed by a manager to return to the doctor to obtain further documentation….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

January 31, 2018


Retiring employees had vested right to benefits, but required scope of benefits is jury question

Retired county workers who alleged their former employer breached its promise of cost-free retiree health coverage for life at the same level the employee enjoyed on his last day of employment will present their contract claims to a jury, a federal district court in Georgia decided. The court found the employees had a vested right to receive the same level of healthcare benefits in retirement as they received on their last day of work. However, it concluded that a jury would have to determine precisely what that level of benefits was supposed to be. Therefore, the parties’ summary judgment motions were denied….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS focuses on VCP user fee changes for 2018

The IRS has provided information concerning the 2018 changes to the user fees charged for submissions under the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System’s (EPCRS’s) Voluntary Correction Program (VCP). Effective January 2, 2018, the IRS has simplified the user fees charged for most submissions made under the VCP by requiring that the applicable user fee be determined by the total amount of net plan assets. As noted in Rev. Proc. 2018-4, the new fee schedule does not apply to group VCP submissions or submission for orphan or 457(b) plans….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

January 30, 2018


Tax law fueling changes to employer benefits and compensation programs, survey finds

The new tax reform law is fueling changes to corporate America’s employee benefits, compensation, total rewards and executive pay programs, according to a survey by Willis Towers Watson. The survey of 333 large and midsize employers reveals nearly half (49 percent) of the respondents are considering making a change to at least one of these programs this year or next….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Rising prices drive pace of health spending increase

Americans used the same amount or less health care in 2016 compared to 2015, but rising prices caused overall spending in 2016 to grow faster than any time in the last five years, according to a report from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI). The report, Health Care Cost and Utilization Report, analyzed health care spending and utilization from 2012 to 2016….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

January 29, 2018


Two-thirds of employers expect to offer fertility benefits by 2019

The percentage of employers offering fertility benefits to employees is expected to grow from 55 percent in 2017 to 66 percent by 2019, according to the 2017 Maternity, Family and Fertility Benefits Survey from Willis Towers Watson. Of the employers currently offering fertility benefits, 65 percent offer coverage for fertility services to same-sex couples — a percentage expected to increase to 81 percent by 2019….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Owner of Chicago-based business must restore $128K to retirement plan and trust

In the aftermath of a Department of Labor Investigation, a federal court in Illinois has entered a consent order and judgment requiring the former president of Acme Orthotics and Prosthetic Laboratories Inc. to restore $128,536 in losses owed to the company’s Profit Sharing 401(k) Plan and Trust. The company is headquartered in Chicago….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

FMLA retaliation against HR director at state university individually not dismissed

Refusing to dismiss the FMLA claims of a long-term HR employee of a state university health center against a senior director of HR who allegedly directed her not to take FMLA leave to care for her husband, a federal district court in Texas found her allegations sufficient that the senior director was acting as an employer, that her claims were not actually against the state as real party in interest, and that the senior director could be individually liable. And for purposes of a motion to dismiss on qualified immunity grounds, the employee adequately alleged the senior director had “fair warning” that firing the employee for availing herself of FMLA leave would violate her clearly-established rights….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »