Health insurance is a major expense for many employers. Add in the costs of dental, life, short-term disability and long-term disability insurance, not to mention retirement plans, and you will want to make certain your benefit package is meeting your objectives. Our survey data can help Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming employers determine how their benefit offerings compare to the market place. We have community and industry-specific surveys, including data segregated by private, public and non-profit sectors, for health, dental, life, short-term disability and long-term disability insurance. In addition we offer survey data on various types of retirement plans. Our survey data is easily accessible online to our member's authorized staff in the member portal of our website.
In addition to our survey data, Employers Council has a team of experts ready to help you apply the right survey insights to your organization, so that you can maximize the amount you spend on health plans and benefits.
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Health Plan Consultants Help You Maximize Your Spend
As an employer, there are lots of health plans to try and assess. Deciding whether or not a specific health plan is the right fit for your organization can be an intensive process that takes lots of your time. Factors like how many employees you have, what kind of health plan benefits you get, deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses, copays, who's in network and who isn't and what types of situations are covered can make the equation complex and exhausting to evaluate.
Employers Council's health plan consultants can help you navigate the world of health care plans, saving you hours of trying to determine what plan is the best fit for your organization. They can also help you answer questions about your current health plans, and how to position health plan benefits to your employee so they recognize the value you're providing.
What to Consider When Choosing a Health Care Plan
Lots of factors can inform your selection when it comes to a health care plan. Employers Council's consultants can help you understand the landscape of choices, and determine how you should weight these different factors based on your organization.
Some health care plans can include dental coverage. However, dental coverage can also be acquired through a separate provider. Employers Council can help you determine whether or not you should offer dental to your employees based on geographic and industry data (answering questions like, 'do my competitors offer dental?'), and help you find the best option for your organization.
Similar to dental, life insurance may be included in a healthcare package or it can stand alone. Life insurance can offer your employees peace of mind in the event of an accident or a life-threatening illness. Our consultants can help you determine if this is an offering you should provide and where to go for the best value.
When choosing a company to work for, prospects weigh different benefits in addition to a baseline salary. Health insurance plans are often a way to entice top talent and retain top-performing employees. Offering a plan with a low deductible can be appealing, but also raise the cost of insurance. Our consultants can help you weight the pros and cons of different healthcare packages and find the right fit for your location, your industry, your budget, and the additional specifics of your organization.
Short-term disability insurance (STDI) provides a financial replacement for an employee's income for a short period of time (usually 3-6 months) in the event they experience a disability. A disability in this case is defined as a medical condition that stops an employee from being able to work. It's important to note that a disability does not just refer to a workplace accident; it also includes medical conditions like heart disease or cancer. Different policies can cover different lengths of time and mean different premiums that can be a shared cost between employer and employee. Employers Council can help you assess the benefits vs. the cost of different STDI plans and whether or not this is a offering you should invest in.
Once the benefits of a short-term disability plan expire (usually 3-6 months), long-term disability insurance will pay employees a percentage of their salary, typically around 50-60%. Different policies will last for different periods of time, with some stretching all the way until an employee is 65. Most insurance carriers in this arena will push to see people healthy and rehabilitated so they can return to work and the insurance carrier can save money on the claimant. Employers Council can help you understand the benefits and costs of long-term disability insurance, along with any state or federal laws that may come into play for your employees in the event a policy is triggered.
Retirement plans can also be an effective tool for attracting and retaining top talent. 401k plans or employer matching can help an employee build towards a comprehensive retirement with a high quality of life. Employers Council can help you determine standards and options that fit your organizational goals.
Maternity and Paternity Leave
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible US employees are entitled to take 12 weeks of unpaid maternity or paternity leave in a 12-month period, continued health care coverage during that leave, and return to their old job, or a similar one, once the leave is over. These regulations apply to public agencies and private employers who employ 50 or more employee for at least 20 weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. State regulations also may impact the amount of paternity of maternity time allotted to employees. In addition to complying with these laws, some organizations offer larger windows of maternity or paternity leave as a competitive advantage when attracting employees. Employers Council can help you navigate compliance with FMLA and state requirements, and assess whether this is an area you can utilize to attract and retain top talent.
Health Plan and Benefits Considerations as a Non-Profit
Non-profit organizations face their own set of challenges when it comes to attracting and retaining talented employees. Overhead concerns and limited funds provide pressure to be strategic about how you allocate compensation and benefit dollars. Employers Council can help you answer basic questions like 'should we offer health benefits?' to more complex questions like 'what benefits can we afford on a limited budget that will lead to the most employee retention?'
Can an employer pay for an employee's individual health plan premiums instead of offering a group health plan?
The IRS does not allow employers to reimburse employees for their individual health plans. A small employer who does not offer a health plan to employees, and is not an Applicable Large Employer (ALE) (meaning they have less than 50 full-time employee plus FTE's), can provide a Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement (QSEHRA). Using the QSEHRA, an employer can reimburse employees for medical expenses allowed by the IRS, including reimbursement for their individual health insurance premiums on a non-taxable basis.
What should I do if an employee says that he or she is disabled and requires accommodation?
Reasonable accommodation is a legal duty imposed upon employers by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In order for an individual to be eligible for reasonable accommodation, they must remain a "qualified individual with a disability," meaning both that (a) they remain qualified for their position, notwithstanding the disability, and (b) they are disabled, as defined by the ADA.
If the employee is a "qualified individual with a disability," employers must engage in the interactive process. The interactive process is a legal term used for the communication or dialogue between the employer and employee to determine whether reasonable accommodation is possible. Any accommodation that (a) does not allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the position, (b) constitutes an undue hardship for the employer, or (c) creates a direct threat to health and safety of the employee and/or others, is not required by the ADA. However, no matter how unlikely it is that the employer and employee will be able to settle on a reasonable accommodation, the employer must engage, in good faith, in the interactive process or risk violating the ADA.
Employers may wish to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the specific accommodation needed and the evaluate risks. The Employers Council maintain an ADA Medical Inquiry Form that is ideally suited to this purpose, but should only be used in consultation with legal counsel.
Besides FMLA, under what other circumstances might I be required to provide leave?
A variety of federal and state laws may require employers to provide leave to employees.
The most commonly encountered federal leave law is the Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period to qualifying employees of covered employers. The time off obligation is extended to 26 workweeks if the employee is caring for a covered servicemember who is injured in the line of duty.
Another federal leave law employers encounter is the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). USERRA protects employees who are in the armed forces, including the National Guard. It requires employers to provide leave to qualifying employees and then re-employ them after their military service, up to a cumulative period of five years' absence from the workplace.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide qualified individuals with disabilities reasonable accommodations to allow them to perform the essential functions of their jobs. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission takes the position that time off from work can, in some instances, constitute a reasonable accommodation that employers should provide. Note that not every jurisdiction follows this position, so when in doubt, contact an Employers Council attorney.
State law may also require employers to provide leave for employees. State leave laws may require employers to provide extended medical or family leave, pregnancy-disability leave, school activities leave, crime victim or domestic violence leave, or organ or bone marrow donation leave. Employers should check to see which state laws impact them. If you have questions, we can help.
Q: How are military FMLA leaves different from traditional FMLA leave?
Traditional FMLA leave is typically associated with time off for the employee's own serious health condition (SHC) or to care for a family member with an SHC. Military FMLA applies in two scenarios: (1) to care for a covered servicemember injured in the line of duty, or (2) time off to provide support to a covered servicemember for a "qualifying exigency." In the first situation, an employee may be entitled to up to 26 workweeks of leave, rather than the 12 workweeks typically provided under "traditional FMLA." In the second scenario, time off is limited to 12 workweeks, but the leave may be taken for non-medical reasons, such as assisting with childcare, helping with short-notice deployment items, and much more.
Do I have to provide FMLA notices?
Yes. An employer must provide certain notices within designated timeframes. Although the specific notice form samples provided through the U.S. Department of Labor are not required, any notice provided by the employer in response to an FMLA leave request must contain the same information provided in such samples. Thus, employers may wish to simply use the Department of Labor sample notices. The required notices include the Eligibility Notice (provided within 5 days of a request for FMLA leave), the medical certification form (if the employer requires a medical certification to assess the FMLA leave request), and the Designation Notice (to inform the employee of the amount of time off approved and the range of dates).