Spencer’s Benefits NetNews – September 22, 2017

 

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News

September 22, 2017

 

More voluntary benefit options likely to be on offer during this year’s open enrollment

Open enrollment is not just about health insurance and retirement savings benefits. During this year’s enrollment period, many employers are expected to offer a variety of new voluntary benefit options along with making changes to long-standing benefits….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Hospital employee’s agreement to six-month limitations period can’t bar FMLA claim

Refusing to reconsider the denial of a hospital’s motion to dismiss a fired employee’s FMLA claim as untimely under a six-month contractual limitations period, a federal court in Michigan reiterated that the FMLA and its regulations provide a two-year limitations period and forbid an employer from interfering with or restraining any right under the Act, which includes the right to file suit within two years. The court rejected the hospital’s distinction between substantive and procedural rights, which in the employment law context is a distinction without meaning, and rejected the argument that the ruling is inconsistent with precedent enforcing contractual limitations….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

September 21, 2017

 

Employers predict 4.3 percent increase in 2018 health benefit cost, highest since 2011

Employers are predicting that health benefit cost per employee will rise by 4.3 percent on average in 2018, according to early responses from Mercer’s National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans 2017. Over the past five years, Mercer has found that the average annual increase has been about 3 percent, an increase of 4.3 percent would be the highest since 2011, when cost rose 6.1 percent….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

IRS issues October 2017 AFRs

The October 2017 short-term, mid-term, and long-term applicable federal interest rates (AFRs) have been issued by the IRS. The October 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 3.25 percent….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Percentage of uninsured declined in 2016

The percentage of individuals without health insurance coverage for the entire 2016 calendar year declined from 9.1 percent in 2015 to 8.8 percent in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The survey, Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2016, noted that the number of people without health insurance declined to 28.1 million from 29.0 million over the period….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

September 20, 2017

 

Signing release to settle workers’ comp claim did not waive right to file FMLA claims

Pointing to the plain language and structure of a settlement agreement, which made clear it was to settle any “work injury claims” arising from an employee’s prior injury, the Third Circuit concluded that the release did not bar the employee’s lawsuit, which alleged that the employer failed to notify him of his FMLA rights, failed to designate his leave as FMLA-protected, and fired him for exercising his FMLA and workers’ compensation rights. He was not bringing an additional “work injury claim,” explained the court, reversing the dismissal of his suit….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Women are three times more likely than men to report they can’t afford to save for retirement

While middle American men and women share similar feelings of financial security, women are more likely to worry about their personal finances and with good reason: they are three times more likely to say they cannot afford to save for retirement, according to a new study from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. (MassMutual)….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

September 19, 2017

 

Employers should rethink pharmacy benefit strategies, MBGH says

To more effectively manage pharmacy benefits, employers should use a transparent pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) and offer value-based designs. Those are two of the strategies offered in a recent Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH) report, which aims to aid employers in working to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and value of pharmacy benefit programs to drive affordability and transparency….

        (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 October 2017 interest rates for valuing terminating pension plans

For single-employer pension plans terminating October through December 2017, and for multiemployer plans involved in a mass withdrawal, the interest rate established by the PBGC for calculating immediate annuities is 2.34 percent, down from the 2.44 percent rate that applied in July through September 2017. The interest rate for calculating immediate lump sums in October 2017 is .75 percent down from the 1.00 percent rate that applied in September 2017….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

September 18, 2017

 

IRS issues guidance on leave donation to help hurricane victims

The IRS has stated that cash payments made by employers to Code Sec. 170(c) charitable organizations providing relief for victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in exchange for vacation, sick, or personal leave donated by employees will generally not be included in gross income or wages. In addition, employers will be permitted to deduct the cash payments as business expenses. The IRS adds that employees will not, however, be able to claim a charitable deduction under Code Sec. 170 for the value of forgone leave excluded from compensation and wages….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »

Benefits were 31.7 percent of total compensation in June 2017, BLS finds

Employer-provided benefits costs for civilian workers in private industry and state and local governments in June 2017 averaged $11.18 per hour worked, accounting for 31.7 percent of total compensation costs, which averaged $35.28 per hour worked. The cost of benefits as a percentage of compensation has risen over the past several years from 27.4 percent of total compensation. These are among the findings of the June 2017 Employer Costs for Employee Compensation report, produced quarterly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)….

        (Read Intelliconnect) »