Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – January 20, 2017

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Featured This Week


New Reports




January 20, 2017


Survey highlights shifting benefit priorities in the workforce

A new global study by the Futurestep division of Korn Ferry highlights the intense competition companies are facing to find qualified candidates, and gives insight into the shifting top priorities of those candidates. In Part One of
The Talent Forecast, Futurestep’s global survey of more than 1,100 hiring professionals, 54% said it’s harder to find qualified talent compared to just one year ago. The same study found that identifying people with the
right skills in a rapidly changing market is the top business issue impacting recruitment….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS issues February 2017 AFRs

The February 2017 short-term, mid-term, and long-term applicable federal interest rates (AFRs) have been issued by the IRS. The February mid-term 175 percent AFR (Annual) rate, used to calculate interest charged to the funding standard account for underpayments of quarterly contributions under Code Sec. 412(m), is 3.69 percent….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS proposed regs update mortality tables for defined benefit plans

The IRS has issued proposed regulations that provide updated mortality tables to be used by most defined benefit plans to calculate the present value of a stream of expected future benefit payments for determining the plan’s minimum funding requirements. The proposed regulations also update the requirements that a plan sponsor must meet to obtain IRS approval to use substitute mortality tables that are specific to the plan, rather than generally applicable mortality tables….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

January 19, 2017


Text: FAQs about Affordable Care Act implementation part 37

(Read Intelliconnect) »

FAQs address integrated HRAs

In FAQs about Affordable Care Act Implementation Part 37, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury (the Departments) addressed the ability to integrate a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) with a group medical plan sponsored by another employer….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

EBSA updated guidance clarifies plan fiduciary obligations related to proxy voting

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has released updated guidance on proxy voting for plan fiduciaries in an interpretive bulletin that withdraws a 2008 interpretive bulletin on the same subject and reinstates a 1994 interpretive bulletin with certain updates to clarify what the law requires of plan fiduciaries. The updated interpretive bulletin was effective on December 29, 2016….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Fiduciaries sued over losses from company’s purchase of owners’ shares, resale to ESOP

The Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against the First Bankers Trust Services, Inc., and others who acted as fiduciaries to the Sonnax Industries Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), asserting that they violated ERISA when First Bankers purchased Sonnax Industries in 2011, on behalf of the ESOP, from its two previous owners, causing the plan to suffer sizable financial losses….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

January 18, 2017

Employee proved retaliation for seeking leave to care for autistic child

An employee proved she suffered retaliation for seeking FMLA leave to care for her autistic child, held the Seventh Circuit, upholding a jury verdict. A reasonable jury could find that the company orchestrated her firing because she asked to telecommute two days per week so she could spend some non-work hours taking care of her child, who had been expelled from day care. The FMLA entitled her to take leave necessary “to take care of a very difficult (at times violent) sick child,” and evidence at trial supported the jury’s verdict that she was retaliated against for exercising her FMLA rights. On a separate issue, the district court erred in reducing her attorneys’ fee award 20 percent….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Americans want lower out-of-pocket costs, but ACA still big news

Health care was the third most important issue that American voters would like President-elect Trump and the new Congress to tackle in 2017, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll. Nineteen percent of those surveyed stated that health care was the most important issue, compared to 24 percent prioritizing the economy and jobs and 20 percent prioritizing immigration. Sixty-seven percent of Americans stated that lowering out-of-pocket costs should be a top health care priority, compared to smaller shares focused on Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) issues. The poll demonstrated that Americans have split views on the ACA that are relatively malleable….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Employer need not reassign disabled employee without requiring her to apply like everyone else

While the Eleventh Circuit agreed with a lower court that the ADA did not require a hospital to reassign a nurse to a new unit without any competition for the job and that giving her 30 days to find a new position was reasonable, the lower court erred in granting the EEOC’s motion to alter the judgment because the agency raised a new argument. Rule 59(e) was not to be used that way except in “rare circumstances,” much less where the EEOC was seeking to contravene language that it had itself proposed to include in the jury instructions and verdict form. The case was reversed in part and remanded with instructions to enter judgment for the hospital….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

January 17, 2017


House approves 2017 budget reconciliation, takes step toward ACA repeal

The House approved the 2017 budget resolution (BR) (SConRes 3) by a 268-to-151 vote on January 13. The measure was approved by the Senate on January 12. The resolution will serve as the legislative vehicle for GOP repeal efforts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and is the first step in the repeal process….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

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) »

PBGC issues February 2017 interest rates for valuing terminating pension plans

For single-employer pension plans terminating January through March 2017, and for multiemployer plans involved in a mass withdrawal, the interest rate established by the PBGC for calculating immediate annuities is 1.87 percent, down from the 1.98 percent rate that applied in October through December 2016. The interest rate for calculating immediate lump sums in February 2017 is 1.25 percent, the same rate that applied in January 2017….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Employers are focused on increasing workers’ retirement savings in 2017

Despite strong participation in employer-sponsored 401(k) plans, few employers (15 percent) are satisfied with their workers’ current savings rates, according to a recent report from Aon Hewitt. In response, employers say they are focused on increasing savings rates and will continue to expand financial wellbeing programs this year….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

January 16, 2017


Employers with wellness programs get answers from EEOC on ADA notice questions

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has published information in question and answer format on notice requirements for certain employers that provide wellness programs to their employees. Employers offering wellness programs that collect employee health information are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide employees with notices detailing confidentiality provisions, and stating how the health information will be used and who will get it….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS issues 2016 required amendments list for individually designed plans

The IRS has released the 2016 Required Amendments List for individually designed qualified retirement plans. The list identifies certain changes in qualification requirements that became effective in 2016 that may require a retirement plan to be amended in order to remain qualified. In Rev. Proc. 2016-37, the IRS modified its procedures for the determination letter program for qualified plans to eliminate the five-year remedial amendment cycle system for individually designed plans, effective January 1, 2017, and replaced it with a new approach to the remedial amendment period….

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Hawaii surfs away from ACA’s small employer provisions on new waiver

HHS granted a waiver request freeing the state of Hawaii from the requirement that it operate a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The waiver also allows the small business tax credit amounts, under Section 1332 of the ACA, which would otherwise be paid to small employers who purchase coverage through the SHOP, to instead support a Hawaii fund aimed at helping small businesses offer health coverage. HHS’ approval of the waiver is effective January 1, 2017, through December 31, 2021….

(Read Intelliconnect) »