Spencer’s Benefits Reports NetNews – February 7, 2014


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Featured This Week

New Reports

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  • Overview: Consumer-Driven Health Plans, 1/14 (356.-1)


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  • Analysis: Mental Health Parity Act Regulations, 1/14 (325.32.-7)


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  • Analysis: Basic 401k Plan Rules, 1/14 (221.-1)


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February 7, 2014

Redefine ACA’s Definition Of Full-Time Employee To 40 Hours Per Week, Hearing Witnesses Say

Reductions in employees’ hours, increased costs, and reporting burdens are some of the consequences for employers as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) definition of full-time employee, according to witnesses at a House Committee on Ways and Means hearing on the impact of the definition on jobs and opportunities. The ACA defines full-time employment as 30 hours per week for purposes of the employer mandate, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2015…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Decision By Committee Does Not Insulate Employer From Potential Liability For FMLA, ADA Claims

Reviving a discharged mechanic’s FMLA and ADA claims, the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals concluded the employee established a genuine issue of material fact as to whether his employer’s stated reasons for firing him—a safety violation and a (related) quarrel with a coworker over the incident — were pretextual, particularly in light of management’s oft-stated annoyance with the employee’s need for intermittent leave. The employer claimed that the discharge decision was made by a committee of managers, different decision-makers than the individuals responsible for determining the fate of other employees with similar infractions who were treated more leniently. “Although there is no clear legal rule as to how much overlap is needed among decision maker groups for employees to be similarly situated, requiring absolute congruence would too easily enable employers to evade liability for violation of federal employment laws,” the Tenth Circuit said. The case is
Smothers v. Solvay Chemicals, Inc. (No. 12-8013)…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

February 6, 2014

Experts Weigh In On Excepted Benefits Proposed Rules

Two experts recently weighed in on the new proposed rules on excepted benefits at a webcast sponsored by consultant Mercer. In December 2013, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and the Treasury jointly issued proposed regulations that would amend the definition of limited excepted benefits, which are generally exempt from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) market reform requirements…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Elimination Of Retroactive “Banked Hour” Benefits Would Violate ERISA’s Anti-Cutback Rule

A proposed pension plan amendment reducing “banked hour” benefits that were retroactively conferred upon participants during the course of their employment would violate ERISA’s anti-cutback rule, according to the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in
Bonneau v. Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 51 Pension Trust Fund, By and Through its Trustees

(Read Intelliconnect) »

February 5, 2014

PBGC Proposed Regs Would Streamline Certain Multiemployer Plan Reporting Rules

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has proposed amendments to its multiemployer plan regulations designed to make the disclosure of information to the PBGC and to plan participants more efficient and effective and to reduce the administrative burden on plan sponsors. The proposed regulations were published in the January 29
Federal Register

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Amicus Brief On Government’s RFRA Position In Hobby Lobby Is Filed By 18 Senate Democrats

An assortment of senators who were all members of Congress during the passage of both the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) have filed an amicus curiae brief detailing the legislative and judicial history leading to the passage of both laws in their support of the U.S. government’s position in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., which is now under consideration before the U.S. Supreme Court…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

February 4, 2014

More Companies Planning To Look Beyond Retirement Savings To Help Boost Financial Health Of Workforce

U.S. companies have grown increasingly concerned about the financial well-being of their workforce, and employers are looking for new ways to improve the long-term financial health of their employees in 2014, according to recent research from Aon Hewitt. According to Aon Hewitt, 76 percent of companies surveyed are somewhat or very likely to expand their focus on the financial well-being of their employees in 2014…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Deferential Review Of Plan’s Denial Of Benefits OK, Despite Evidence Of Disclosure Failures

The deferential “abuse of discretion” standard of review, used to affirm a pension plan’s denial of additional pension benefits to a participant, was the appropriate standard, in spite of the plan’s failure to timely produce relevant documents, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled in
James v. International Painters and Allied Trades Industry Pension Plan. The disclosure errors were not enough to warrant recognizing an exception to the deferential standard of review typically applied to the discretionary decisions of plan administrators…

(Read Intelliconnect) »

February 3, 2014

EEOC Reinstates Examples Of Commonly Required Accommodations For Workers With Disabilities

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a correction to its interpretive guidance on Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The correction reinstates a paragraph in the appendix to 29 C.F.R. Sec. 1630.2(o) that describes the most common types of reasonable accommodations that employers and other covered entities may be required to provide, and notes that the list is neither exhaustive nor intended to cover all the specific circumstances in which a particular accommodation may be required. The correction was published in the January 29 Federal Register

(Read Intelliconnect) »

Cutting Spousal Coverage Could Have Unexpected Consequences: EBRI

Companies trying to save money on health costs by requiring working spouses to get health insurance through their own employer may find the move has some unexpected consequences, according to a recent report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)…

(Read Intelliconnect) »