The JP Griffin Group Benefits Blog https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog Our take on benefits automation, wellness, compliance, cost containment, employee communications & engagement, company news and more. en-us Mon, 05 Dec 2022 21:29:43 GMT 2022-12-05T21:29:43Z en-us The Pros and Cons of Pay Transparency https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/pay-transparency-pros-cons <div class="hs-featured-image-wrapper"> <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/pay-transparency-pros-cons" title="" class="hs-featured-image-link"> <img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hubfs/Shutterstock_370976174.jpg" alt="The Pros and Cons of Pay Transparency" class="hs-featured-image" style="width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;"> </a> </div> <p><span>Emboldened by a strong labor market, employees find themselves in the driver's seat these days when it comes to demanding pay transparency. And with a growing list of jurisdictions now requiring employers to share compensation information, this trend shows no signs of slowing down.</span></p> <p><span>In this post we will address the rules surrounding pay transparency across the country and workers’ growing demand for it. We will also discuss employer pros and cons, as well as strategies to implement pay transparency practices in an organization.</span></p> <h1><span style="font-size: 24px;"><strong>WHAT IS PAY TRANSPARENCY?</strong></span></h1> <p><span>Pay transparency is when an employer openly communicates pay-related information through established practices to current or prospective employees. Employers can provide this information through various channels, such as online job sites, job postings, or during an interview.</span></p> <h1><span></span></h1> <p><span><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/Shutterstock_370976174.jpg?width=835&amp;height=557&amp;name=Shutterstock_370976174.jpg" alt="Pay Transparency Pros and Cons" width="835" height="557" style="width: 835px; height: auto; max-width: 100%;">Emboldened by a strong labor market, employees find themselves in the driver's seat these days when it comes to demanding pay transparency. And with a growing list of jurisdictions now requiring employers to share compensation information, this trend shows no signs of slowing down.</span></p> <p><span>In this post we will address the rules surrounding pay transparency across the country and workers’ growing demand for it. We will also discuss employer pros and cons, as well as strategies to implement pay transparency practices in an organization.</span></p> <h1><span style="font-size: 24px;"><strong>WHAT IS PAY TRANSPARENCY?</strong></span></h1> <p><span>Pay transparency is when an employer openly communicates pay-related information through established practices to current or prospective employees. Employers can provide this information through various channels, such as online job sites, job postings, or during an interview.</span></p> <h1><span></span><span style="font-size: 24px;"><strong>PAY TRANSPARENCY ACROSS THE NATION</strong></span></h1> <p>As demands for pay transparency increase, some states have passed legislation requiring organizations to be transparent. In recent years, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Washington have all passed pay transparency laws. Some cities, including New York City, Jersey City, and Cincinnati, have also passed such laws.<br><br>Employers should be aware that pay transparency laws vary depending on the jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions only require employers to provide pay ranges if the candidate requests it, while others require employers to disclose it upfront, as evidenced by the recent California law requiring employers with 15 or more employees to include pay scale information in all job postings, including job postings on third-party sites, starting Jan. 1, 2023.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 24px;"><strong>EMPLOYEE DEMAND FOR PAY TRANSPARENCY</strong></span></p> <p>The tight labor market has led employees to make new demands, such as remote working arrangements, enhanced benefits, and more—among them is pay transparency. Pay-related websites, such as Glassdoor, have helped normalize pay transparency as an integral part of an individual’s employment search and facilitate employee-driven conversations about pay. <br><br>Employees value transparency because it holds employers accountable for providing similar wages for similar roles, builds trust, and helps employees easily see if they are being compensated fairly.<br><br>Visier’s 2022 Pay Transparency Pulse Report found the most important factor potential employees consider when deciding whether to apply for a job is their estimated compensation. Further, 11% of candidates will not apply or interview for a role without knowing the salary band, and 50% have completely abandoned an application or interview process because the pay did not meet their expectations once the employer revealed it. <br><br>Salary information is important to job applicants because they want fair pay—competitive with the marketplace and in line with what they contributed—and to avoid applying and interviewing for jobs they ultimately won’t accept due to insufficient pay. Applicants also see pay transparency as a way to develop trust with their potential employer at the outset of the employment relationship.</p> <p><a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/az-paid-family-medical-leave-landing"><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/PFML%20House%20Ad%201.png?width=1149&amp;height=318&amp;name=PFML%20House%20Ad%201.png" alt="PFML House Ad 1" width="1149" height="318" style="height: auto; max-width: 100%; width: 1149px;"></a></p> <p><span style="font-size: 24px;"><strong>ADVANTAGES &amp; DISADVANTAGES FOR EMPLOYERS</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 1.5;">It’s becoming increasingly clear that providing pay transparency is not a temporary trend. Not only are more states and localities implementing pay transparency laws each year, but pay transparency is also more important to younger workers. The way younger generations and entry-level employees think about pay is different from how employers have historically treated compensation conversations and practices. Employers may need to evolve by embracing pay transparency as more millennials and members of Generation Z enter the workforce to make themselves attractive to these workers.<br><br>While pay transparency may sound like another average consideration for employers to worry about, it’s a great opportunity for them to cultivate trust with their employees. Even if employers are not compensating the employee more than their competitors, simply taking the time to discuss pay with employees and candidates can help build trust. This small change has the potential to help employers to build and strengthen employee relationships.<br><br>Employers need to consider the applicable rules and regulations related to pay transparency in their jurisdiction. However, even if an employer is in a jurisdiction that may not require pay transparency, it may be beneficial to provide pay-related information since employees and applicants are more frequently demanding it, and thus, it’s attractive. <br><br>Because employees today often demand higher pay, employers are likely to appear more favorable to employees by providing pay transparency. Employees want to see that they are being paid what they deserve, and they may be willing to leave their current roles to find what they want, regardless of whether or not the law requires employers to publish this information. To meet employee desires, employers may consider implementing practices such as publishing pay scales for their open positions or hosting informational training sessions on pay-related topics.<br><br>Additionally, organizations that provide pay transparency information tend to receive more applicants. By disclosing salary information and ranges to applicants, employers can also save time and money in recruiting by ensuring candidates don’t reject job offers due to insufficient pay. Even when not required, providing this information can help organizations stay ahead of pay disclosure mandates, which is becoming increasingly important as they hire more remote employees.<br><br>Implementing pay transparency practices is not without financial and legal risks. Many employers are hesitant to enact such measures because they are concerned about how existing employees may react, as pay transparency can reveal unintended pay gaps and trigger more questions from current workers. In addition, providing this information can potentially leave organizations vulnerable to pay equity lawsuits. As such, organizations should carefully weigh the benefits and disadvantages of implementing pay transparency practices.</p> <p>If you have any additional questions regarding party transparency, please reach out to a <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/">HUB Employee Benefits Advisor</a>.</p> <img src="https://track.hubspot.com/__ptq.gif?a=457237&amp;k=14&amp;r=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%2Fblog%2Fpay-transparency-pros-cons&amp;bu=https%253A%252F%252Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%252Fblog&amp;bvt=rss" alt="" width="1" height="1" style="min-height:1px!important;width:1px!important;border-width:0!important;margin-top:0!important;margin-bottom:0!important;margin-right:0!important;margin-left:0!important;padding-top:0!important;padding-bottom:0!important;padding-right:0!important;padding-left:0!important; "> Equality Compensation Price Transparency Mon, 05 Dec 2022 21:29:42 GMT drook@griffinbenefits.com (David Rook) https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/pay-transparency-pros-cons 2022-12-05T21:29:42Z Why Arizona Employers Need to Pay Attention to Paid Family Medical Leave https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/paid-family-leave-arizona-employers <div class="hs-featured-image-wrapper"> <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/paid-family-leave-arizona-employers" title="" class="hs-featured-image-link"> <img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hubfs/Shutterstock_536460283.jpg" alt="Why Arizona Employers Need to Pay Attention to Paid Family Medical Leave" class="hs-featured-image" style="width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;"> </a> </div> <p><span>Employers in Arizona may think they are immune to the nationwide surge in the enactment of Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) programs. Nevertheless, they may want to reconsider this as they review their overall benefits strategy. This is especially true because there are actions Arizona employers can take now to better adapt in the future.<br><br>From a national perspective, there are 13 states that either have or are implementing PFML programs, representing over 25% of the country where employers will need to participate in some fashion.<br><br>States with PFML, such as California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, all surround Arizona, and some of our neighbors, such as New Mexico, have tried to get a PFML law passed for the last few years.</span></p> <h1><span></span></h1> <p><span><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/Shutterstock_536460283.jpg?width=835&amp;height=417&amp;name=Shutterstock_536460283.jpg" alt="Paid Family Medical Leave Arizona Employers" width="835" height="417" style="width: 835px; height: auto; max-width: 100%;">Employers in Arizona may think they are immune to the nationwide surge in the enactment of Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) programs. Nevertheless, they may want to reconsider this as they review their overall benefits strategy. This is especially true because there are actions Arizona employers can take now to better adapt in the future.<br><br>From a national perspective, there are 13 states that either have or are implementing PFML programs, representing over 25% of the country where employers will need to participate in some fashion.<br><br>States with PFML, such as California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, all surround Arizona, and some of our neighbors, such as New Mexico, have tried to get a PFML law passed for the last few years.</span></p> <h1><span></span><span style="font-size: 24px;"><strong>FACTORS DRIVING THE LIKELIHOOD OF PFML WITHIN ARIZONA</strong></span></h1> <p>Since March 2020, when COVID-19 became a household name and remote workers became the standard rather than the exception, the shadow of PFML has loomed over Arizona.<br><br>Since 1990, Arizona’s population has increased by almost 40%. In 2021, 93,000 people alone relocated to the Grand Canyon State - and over 23% of those transplants came from California, which started the statutory disability/paid family leave program in the first place.<br><br>According <a href="https://azgovernor.gov/governor/news/2021/11/arizona-projected-add-more-700000-jobs-2030">to a report</a> from the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), it’s projected that more than 700,000 new jobs will be created within Arizona over the next decade. Many will be in the Financial Services, Health Services, and Technology fields - all of which will draw workers from states with PFML programs. In fact, companies such as DoorDash, LiveRamp, Align, Moov, etc. have all relocated their headquarters to Arizona, and all have come from California.</p> <p><span style="color: #8ac942;"><em><strong>Download slides from our 2022 Arizona SHRM Annual Conference presentation on Paid Family Medical Leave <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/az-paid-family-medical-leave-landing">by clicking here.</a></strong></em></span></p> <h1><span style="font-size: 24px;"><strong>ARIZONA'S VOTER REFERENDUM SYSTEM</strong></span></h1> <p>Many Arizona employers may dismiss concerns about PFML because they feel that the state legislature will never pass something like this. They might be right, except for the fact that Arizona has a voter referendum system that allows voters to pass legislation without the consent or approval of the state legislature.<br><br>This is precisely how Arizona enacted a <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/designing-compliant-pto-programs">mandatory paid sick leave program</a> within the state. While I don’t have a crystal ball, I suspect to see employees who have had these benefits in other states try to re-create them here in Arizona through a voter referendum.</p> <p><a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/az-paid-family-medical-leave-landing"><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/PFML%20House%20Ad%201.png?width=1149&amp;height=318&amp;name=PFML%20House%20Ad%201.png" alt="PFML House Ad 1" width="1149" height="318" style="height: auto; max-width: 100%; width: 1149px;"></a></p> <p><span style="font-size: 24px;"><strong>HOW ARIZONA EMPLOYERS CAN PREPARE</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 1.5;">So does this mean employers need to panic? Absolutely not, but this is an opportune time for employers to review how these programs can play into benefits strategies.<br><br>As workers remain remote and the struggle to find, hire and maintain talent continues, creating a balanced program by including PFML-style benefits can have both short-term and long-term benefits.<br><br>While many employers offer Short-Term Disability (STD) benefits ranging from 13 to 26 weeks, Mandatory Disability/PFL programs can go as long as 26 weeks and sometimes can pay better than what the employer offers under STD.</p> <p><span style="color: #278dd0;"><em><strong>Download slides from our 2022 Arizona SHRM Annual Conference presentation on Paid Family Medical Leave <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/az-paid-family-medical-leave-landing" style="color: #278dd0;">by clicking here.</a></strong></em></span></p> <p style="line-height: 1.5;">Employers can make simple changes to the program by offering a voluntary buy-up of the maximum benefit that would supplement what the employer is offering. The advantage is that if PFML does come to Arizona, the STD benefit will offset whatever benefit is being paid by the state, reducing the benefit paid under an employer’s STD program, potentially reducing the company’s costs.<br><br>Many of the newer PFML programs being introduced offer job and benefit protection benefits similar to what is offered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). For smaller employers who are not required to provide FMLA, this could be a new challenge in terms of managing their workforce.<br><br>Employers are encouraged to review their medical plan designs to see how the medical plan defines an active employee when the employee is out on leave or disability. This impacts when an employee can remain on the plan when not working and when COBRA would be available as an option.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 24px;"><strong>IN CLOSING</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 1.5;">These are just two areas employers should review if looking at PFML programs. After all, having a benefits program that can more easily adapt to a PFML program, should it ever come to Arizona, is a great way for employers to ensure that they are providing best-in-class benefits as more and more people relocated to the state.<br><br>If you have any additional questions regarding PFML or other <a href="https://www.hubinternational.com/products/employee-benefits/workforce-absence-management/">Workforce Absence Management</a> issues, please get in touch with a <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/">HUB Employee Benefits Advisor</a>.</p> <p style="line-height: 1.5;"><a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/az-paid-family-medical-leave-landing"><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/PFML%20House%20Ad%202.png?width=1158&amp;height=314&amp;name=PFML%20House%20Ad%202.png" alt="PFML House Ad 2" width="1158" height="314" style="height: auto; max-width: 100%; width: 1158px;"></a></p> <img src="https://track.hubspot.com/__ptq.gif?a=457237&amp;k=14&amp;r=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%2Fblog%2Fpaid-family-leave-arizona-employers&amp;bu=https%253A%252F%252Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%252Fblog&amp;bvt=rss" alt="" width="1" height="1" style="min-height:1px!important;width:1px!important;border-width:0!important;margin-top:0!important;margin-bottom:0!important;margin-right:0!important;margin-left:0!important;padding-top:0!important;padding-bottom:0!important;padding-right:0!important;padding-left:0!important; "> Paid Time Off (PTO) Arizona Workforce Absence Management Thu, 10 Nov 2022 20:43:50 GMT david.setzkorn@hubinternational.com (David Setzkorn) https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/paid-family-leave-arizona-employers 2022-11-10T20:43:50Z Medical Debt Reform; How It May Impact Employer Group Health Plans https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/medical-debt-reform-the-impact-on-employer-group-health-plans <div class="hs-featured-image-wrapper"> <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/medical-debt-reform-the-impact-on-employer-group-health-plans" title="" class="hs-featured-image-link"> <img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hubfs/Medical_Debt_Reform.jpg" alt="Medical Debt Reform; How It May Impact Employer Group Health Plans" class="hs-featured-image" style="width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;"> </a> </div> <p>With over a million ballots cast so far statewide, Arizona voters are already making their voices heard in the 2022 mid-term election. In addition to Arizona's more obvious races in the national spotlight, Arizona has a measure on the ballot that may also interest those living outside the state.<br>&nbsp;<br>Known as <a href="https://azsos.gov/elections/ballot-measures/2022-ballot-measure-information">Prop 209</a>, this measure would reduce the maximum interest rate allowable on medical debt from 10% to 3% and expand the assets exempt from medical debt collectors.</p> <p>If it passes, it may prompt other states to move in this direction, especially those more progressive states or those states with significant populations in medical debt.</p> <h1><span></span></h1> <p><span><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/Medical_Debt_Reform.jpg?width=835&amp;height=413&amp;name=Medical_Debt_Reform.jpg" alt="Medical_Debt_Reform_Employer_Implications" width="835" height="413" style="width: 835px; height: auto; max-width: 100%;"></span>With over a million ballots cast so far statewide, Arizona voters are already making their voices heard in the 2022 mid-term election. In addition to Arizona's more obvious races in the national spotlight, Arizona has a measure on the ballot that may also interest those living outside the state.<br>&nbsp;<br>Known as <a href="https://azsos.gov/elections/ballot-measures/2022-ballot-measure-information">Prop 209</a>, this measure would reduce the maximum interest rate allowable on medical debt from 10% to 3% and expand the assets exempt from medical debt collectors.</p> <p>If it passes, it may prompt other states to move in this direction, especially those more progressive states or those states with significant populations in medical debt.</p> <h1><span></span><span style="font-size: 24px;"><strong>THE RISE OF MEDICAL DEBT</strong></span></h1> <p>It isn’t a secret that medical care is expensive, and many&nbsp;<a href="https://www.kff.org/health-costs/report/2022-employer-health-benefits-survey/">out-of-pocket costs</a> under health plans have increased. This, in turn, has led to individuals incurring medical debts. The&nbsp;<a href="https://www.kff.org/report-section/kff-health-care-debt-survey-main-findings/">KFF Health Care Debt Survey</a> finds&nbsp;that 41% of adults currently have some debt caused by medical or dental bills, many of which were one-time, unexpected costs.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.healthsystemtracker.org/brief/many-households-do-not-have-enough-money-to-pay-cost-sharing-in-typical-private-health-plans/#Median%20liquid%20assets%20of%20households%20and%20maximum%20out-of-pocket%20limit%20allowed%20in%20private%20plans%20for%20in-network%20services,%20by%20household%20size,%202019">Another survey</a>&nbsp;found most households’ savings are less than the maximum out-of-pocket limit allowed for most private plans.</p> <h1><span style="font-size: 24px;"><strong>HOW MEDICAL DEBT MIGHT IMPACT MEDICAL CARE</strong></span></h1> <p>Unsurprisingly, those in debt may be reluctant to accrue more debt. Medical debt is no different and can make consumers <a href="https://nmahoney.people.stanford.edu/sites/g/files/sbiybj23976/files/media/file/kaiser_20210831.pdf">reluctant to seek care</a>. While this may decrease expenses in the short term, this may lead to increased expenses (for both health plans and individuals) in the long term.</p> <p>Net, if someone puts off care today because they don’t want to go further into debt, they may ultimately need even more care at a later date.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 24px;"><strong>FEDERAL EFFORTS TO LESSON MEDICAL DEBT BURDENS</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 1.5;">Earlier this year, <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/04/11/fact-sheet-the-biden-administration-announces-new-actions-to-lessen-the-burden-of-medical-debt-and-increase-consumer-protection/">an&nbsp;executive order&nbsp;</a>focused on medical debt reform was announced. This order seeks to hold medical debt collectors accountable for harmful practices and complying with debt collection rules, limit the impact of medical debt on credit scores, and help veterans with medical debt get their debts forgiven.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 24px;"><strong>STATES CAN ALSO PLAY A SIGNIFICANT ROLE</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 1.5;">As Arizona has shown, there is still quite a bit that states can do to help limit the burden of medical debt. In particular, states control the amount of interest that can be charged on medical and other debt.<br>&nbsp;<br>If the Arizona measure passes, it’s likely to be replicated in other states where progressives have successfully introduced ballot measures to accomplish what conservative legislators would not, such as expanding Medicaid, raising the minimum wage, and establishing paid sick leave.</p> <p style="line-height: 1.5;">According to the <a href="https://thefairnessproject.org/">Fairness Project</a>, which supports passing progressive policies through the referendum process, states such as Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma have expressed an interest in launching their own medical debt campaigns.<br>&nbsp;<br>Democratic state lawmakers have also enacted legislation in recent years to address healthcare costs through public health insurance options, healthcare cost commissions, and medical debt reform. Last year, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, and New Mexico passed bills addressing medical debt.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 24px;"><strong>THE IMPLICATIONS IN ARIZONA</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 1.5;">According to&nbsp;an analysis by <a href="https://apps.urban.org/features/debt-interactive-map/?type=overall&amp;variable=medcoll&amp;state=04">the Urban Institute</a>, an estimated 875,000 Arizonans, roughly 12 percent of the state, have medical bills in collections.&nbsp;<br>&nbsp;<br>If Proposition 209 passes, creditors will not be allowed to charge more than 3 percent interest on medical debt, a significant reduction from the current 10 percent rate. The measure will also decrease the portion of weekly disposable income subject to debt collection from 25 percent to 10 percent while increasing the value of a home protected from creditors to $400,000 from the current value of $250,000.<br>&nbsp;<br>Opponents, who primarily represent creditors, argue the proposal is too broad. They claim the provisions shielding assets could apply to all forms of debt, beyond medical debt, and predict that a move like this will devastate the state’s lending market.&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: 24px;"><strong>THE IMPACT ON EMPLOYER GROUP HEALTH PLANS</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 1.5;">It is hard to tell if these reform efforts will ultimately impact employer group plans. While I previously touched on the possibility of those in debt delaying medical care, thus leading to higher cost claimants down the road, I hypothesize that the impact on group health plans will be limited.<br>&nbsp;<br>Lowering interest rates will allow some individuals to pay off their debts quicker, but many with higher debts will still struggle, even with lower interest rates. If providers are making significant amounts from the interest they are currently charging (and allowed to charge), they may seek to increase their rates if this income source is lost or reduced. This will take time, however, and the impact is likely limited for providers other than large hospital systems who may be holding many millions in unpaid medical debt.<br>&nbsp;<br>With the election now less than one week away, we will know soon enough if the Arizona measure passes. We will also finally get a break from all the political ads cluttering our airwaves!</p> <p style="line-height: 1.5;">If you would like to discuss Prop 209 further or <a href="http://griffinbenefits.com">wish to speak to us</a> regarding your employer sponsored group medical plan, please don't hesitate to reach out.&nbsp;</p> <img src="https://track.hubspot.com/__ptq.gif?a=457237&amp;k=14&amp;r=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%2Fblog%2Fmedical-debt-reform-the-impact-on-employer-group-health-plans&amp;bu=https%253A%252F%252Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%252Fblog&amp;bvt=rss" alt="" width="1" height="1" style="min-height:1px!important;width:1px!important;border-width:0!important;margin-top:0!important;margin-bottom:0!important;margin-right:0!important;margin-left:0!important;padding-top:0!important;padding-bottom:0!important;padding-right:0!important;padding-left:0!important; "> Compliance Cost Containment Arizona Thu, 03 Nov 2022 17:58:41 GMT cory.jorbin@hubinternational.com (Cory Jorbin, Esq.) https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/medical-debt-reform-the-impact-on-employer-group-health-plans 2022-11-03T17:58:41Z 2023 IRS Limits for HSA, FSA, 401k, HDHP, and More [Comprehensive Guide] https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/2023-irs-limits-hsa-hdhp-fsa-401k-contributions <div class="hs-featured-image-wrapper"> <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/2023-irs-limits-hsa-hdhp-fsa-401k-contributions" title="" class="hs-featured-image-link"> <img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hubfs/Shutterstock_1055588426.jpg" alt="2023 IRS Limits for HSA, FSA, 401k, HDHP, and More [Comprehensive Guide]" class="hs-featured-image" style="width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;"> </a> </div> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The IRS has finally announced adjustments to 2023 contribution limits on various tax-advantaged health and dependent care spending accounts, retirement plans, and other employee benefits such as adoption assistance and transportation benefits. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many of these contribution limits, though not all, are <a href="https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-provides-tax-inflation-adjustments-for-tax-year-2023">indexed to cost-of-living adjustments</a>. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Together, these combined announcements by the IRS detail 2023 adjusted limits to the amounts employees can tuck away pretax into Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), transportation benefits, and retirement plans such as 401(k)s.<br><br>While IRS limits for HSAs and HDHPs are required, by law, to be announced by June 1st, limits for these other pretax savings vehicles always seem to come so late in the year that many employers have already completed their employee benefits open enrollments.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Employers who have already completed open enrollment for 2023 have two choices when it comes to communicating these updates; 1) they can do nothing, since there isn't an obligation to make the maximum election amounts available to employees, or 2) they can r<span style="background-color: transparent;">eopen the enrollment process and let employees who want to increase their elections do so before December 31st, for calendar year plans.</span><br></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">What follows is a consolidated summary of the new IRS limits;<br></span></p> <h1><span style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-size: 30px; background-color: transparent;"></span></span></h1> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/Shutterstock_1055588426.jpg?width=835&amp;height=470&amp;name=Shutterstock_1055588426.jpg" alt="Shutterstock_1055588426" width="835" height="470" style="width: 835px; height: auto; max-width: 100%;">The IRS has finally announced adjustments to 2023 contribution limits on various tax-advantaged health and dependent care spending accounts, retirement plans, and other employee benefits such as adoption assistance and transportation benefits. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many of these contribution limits, though not all, are <a href="https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-provides-tax-inflation-adjustments-for-tax-year-2023">indexed to cost-of-living adjustments</a>. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Together, these combined announcements by the IRS detail 2023 adjusted limits to the amounts employees can tuck away pretax into Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), transportation benefits, and retirement plans such as 401(k)s.<br><br>While IRS limits for HSAs and HDHPs are required, by law, to be announced by June 1st, limits for these other pretax savings vehicles always seem to come so late in the year that many employers have already completed their employee benefits open enrollments.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Employers who have already completed open enrollment for 2023 have two choices when it comes to communicating these updates; 1) they can do nothing, since there isn't an obligation to make the maximum election amounts available to employees, or 2) they can r<span style="background-color: transparent;">eopen the enrollment process and let employees who want to increase their elections do so before December 31st, for calendar year plans.</span><br></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">What follows is a consolidated summary of the new IRS limits;<br></span></p> <h1><span style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-size: 30px; background-color: transparent;">Health Care FSA Limits Increase for 2023&nbsp;</span></span></h1> <p>Employees can deposit an incremental $200 into their Health Care FSAs in 2023. And if an employer's plan allows for carrying over unused Health Care FSA funds, the <a href="https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/benefits/Pages/2023-fsa-contribution-cap-and-other-colas.aspx">maximum carryover amount has also risen</a>, up $40 from $570 in 2022, to $610 in 2023. It's also worth noting that any amount that rolls over into the new plan year does not affect the maximum limit that employees can contribute.</p> <p>These new limits also apply to <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/what-is-a-limited-purpose-fsa-lpfsa">limited-purpose FSAs</a> which are used with HSAs to provide employees with tax-advantaged funds to pay for qualified dental and vision care services.&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/2023%20IRS%20FSA%20Limits.jpg?width=2306&amp;height=540&amp;name=2023%20IRS%20FSA%20Limits.jpg" alt="2023 IRS FSA Limits" width="2306" height="540" style="height: auto; max-width: 100%; width: 2306px;"></p> <p><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/2023%20IRS%20FSA%20Carryover%20Limits.jpg?width=2284&amp;height=530&amp;name=2023%20IRS%20FSA%20Carryover%20Limits.jpg" alt="2023 IRS FSA Carryover Limits" width="2284" height="530" style="height: auto; max-width: 100%; width: 2284px;"></p> <h1 style="font-size: 30px;">FSA Employer Contribution Limits for 2023</h1> <p>Employers can also provide Health Care FSA contributions in addition to the amount that employees can elect. In fact, employees can elect up to the IRS limit and still receive this employer contribution in addition to those amounts.</p> <p>These employer contributions to a Health Care FSA are based on how much the employee contributes:</p> <ul> <li>An employer may match up to $500, regardless of whether or not the employee contributes to a Health Care FSA themselves.</li> <li>Above $500, employers may only make a dollar-for-dollar match to the employee’s contribution up to the 2023 maximum of $3,050 (for a maximum of $6,100 in combined annual contribution).</li> </ul> <p>In general, however, employer contributions should not exceed $500 per plan year for a Health Care FSA to maintain excepted benefit status, which avoids making it subject to certain ACA and HIPAA requirements.</p> <h1><span style="font-weight: 400;"></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-size: 30px; background-color: transparent;">Dependent Care FSA Limits Stay Flat Again For 2023<br></span></span></h1> <p>Unlike the Health Care FSA, which is indexed to cost-of-living adjustments, the Dependent Care FSA maximum is set by statute. For 2023, it remains $5,000 a year for individuals or married couples filing jointly, or $2,500 for a married person filing separately.</p> <p>To be clear, married couples have a combined $5,000 limit, even if each has access to a separate dependent care FSA through his or her employer.&nbsp;</p> <p>Employers can also choose to contribute to employees' Dependent Care FSAs. However, unlike with a Health Care FSA, the combined employer and employee contributions to a Dependent Care FSA cannot exceed the IRS limits noted here.</p> <p>Eldercare may be eligible for reimbursement with a Dependent Care FSA if the adult lives with the FSA holder at least 8 hours of the day and is claimed as a dependent on the FSA holder's federal tax return.</p> <p><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/2023%20IRS%20Dependant%20Care%20FSA%20Limits.jpg?width=2274&amp;height=674&amp;name=2023%20IRS%20Dependant%20Care%20FSA%20Limits.jpg" alt="2023 IRS Dependant Care FSA Limits" width="2274" height="674" style="height: auto; max-width: 100%; width: 2274px;"></p> <h1><span style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-size: 30px; background-color: transparent;">2023 Retirement Plan Limits Increase&nbsp;<br></span></span><span style="font-weight: 400;"></span></h1> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The IRS also increased the amount employees can contribute to 401(k), 403(b), and most 457 plans, raising the contribution cap to $22,500 from $20,500 in 2022, while the catch-up contribution increased $1,000 to $7,500, from $6,500 a year earlier. This means that workers 50 and older can save as much as $30,000 into these plans in 2023.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For IRAs, the amount an individual can contribute increases to $6,500 (up from $6,000 in 2022). The catch-up contribution amount remains $1,000. T</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">he amount individuals can contribute to their SIMPLE accounts increases to $15,500 (up from $14,000 in 2022). The catch-up contribution limit for SIMPLE account increases to $3,500 (up from $3,000).</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Income limits for Roth IRA contributions are also increasing. You can <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2022/10/21/irs-2023-401k-and-ira-contribution-limits.html">read about the phase-out ranges here</a>.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">All-in-all, these adjustments in retirement limits are one of the IRS's <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/21/business/401k-contribution-limits-2023.html">largest increases in decades.</a></span></p> <h1 style="font-size: 30px;"><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/2023%20IRS%20Limits%20Retirement%20Plans.jpg?width=1068&amp;height=539&amp;name=2023%20IRS%20Limits%20Retirement%20Plans.jpg" alt="2023 IRS Limits Retirement Plans" width="1068" height="539" style="height: auto; max-width: 100%; width: 1068px;"></h1> <h1 style="font-size: 30px;">HSA &amp; HDHP Limits Increase for 2023</h1> <p>Earlier this year the <a href="https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/2023-irs-contribution-limits-for-hsas-and-high-deductibel-health-plans.aspx">IRS also announced changes</a> in limits on Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) for 2023. These limits include:</p> <ul> <li>The maximum HSA contribution limit;</li> <li>The minimum deductible amount for HDHPs; and</li> <li>The maximum out-of-pocket expense limit for HDHPs.</li> </ul> <p>These limits vary based on whether an individual has self-only or family coverage under an HDHP.</p> <ul> <li>Eligible individuals with self-only HDHP coverage will be able to contribute $3,850 to their HSAs for 2023, up from $3,600 for 2022.</li> <li>Eligible individuals with family HDHP coverage will be able to contribute $7,750 to their HSAs for 2023, up from $7,200 for 2022.</li> <li>Individuals who are age 55 or older are permitted to make an additional $1,000 “catch-up” contribution to their HSAs.</li> </ul> <p>The minimum deductible amount for HDHPs increases for 2023 ($1,500 for self-only coverage and $3,000 for family coverage). The HDHP maximum out-of-pocket expense limit also increases to $7,500 for self-only coverage and $15,000 for family coverage.</p> <p><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/2023%20IRS%20HSA%20Limits%20V2.jpg?width=2400&amp;height=1256&amp;name=2023%20IRS%20HSA%20Limits%20V2.jpg" alt="2023 IRS HSA Limits V2" width="2400" height="1256" style="height: auto; max-width: 100%; width: 2400px;"></p> <h1 style="font-size: 30px;">Transportation Fringe Benefits Rise for 2023</h1> <p>The monthly limit on expenses for work-related mass transit expenses (for example, bus and train fare), as well as parking, rises to $300 for 2023, which is $20 more than in 2022.</p> <p><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/IRS%202023%20Transportation%20Benefits.jpg?width=1059&amp;height=359&amp;name=IRS%202023%20Transportation%20Benefits.jpg" alt="IRS 2023 Transportation Benefits" width="1059" height="359" style="height: auto; max-width: 100%; width: 1059px;"></p> <h1 style="font-size: 30px;">Adoption Assistance Increases for 2022</h1> <p>For 2023, the maximum amount of an employer subsidy for qualified child-adoption expenses that can be excluded from an employee's gross income will be $15,990, up from $14,890 for 2022.</p> <p><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/2023%20IRS%20Adoption%20Limits.jpg?width=2300&amp;height=822&amp;name=2023%20IRS%20Adoption%20Limits.jpg" alt="2023 IRS Adoption Limits" width="2300" height="822" style="height: auto; max-width: 100%; width: 2300px;"></p> <h1 style="font-size: 30px;">Qualified Small Employer HRAs for 2022</h1> <p>For tax year 2023, to qualify as a Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement (QSEHRA), the total amount of payments and reimbursements by employers for any year cannot exceed $5,850 for individual coverage or $11,800 for family coverage.</p> <p><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/2023%20IRS%20Small%20Empoyler%20HRA%20Limiits.jpg?width=2290&amp;height=694&amp;name=2023%20IRS%20Small%20Empoyler%20HRA%20Limiits.jpg" alt="2023 IRS Small Employer HRA Limits" width="2290" height="694" style="height: auto; max-width: 100%; width: 2290px;"></p> <h1 style="font-size: 30px;">Educating Employees On The Changes&nbsp;&nbsp;</h1> <p>It’s important to advise employees considering making changes to their contribution elections that changes to most (but not all) of these savings vehicles can only be made during your company’s annual open enrollment period, or after a Qualified Life Event (QLE).</p> <p>It's also important to remind them that unlike unspent HSA funds, which roll-over, FSA funds are "use-it-or-lost-it" and expire at the end of the year. It should also be stressed that while the IRS allowed employees to make mid-year adjustments to their FSA contributions during the pandemic, that flexibility no longer exists.</p> <p>For employees contributing to an FSA, it's also a good idea to remind them that these tax-deferred funds will be available, in full, at the start of the plan year, even though contribution amounts will be equally deducted from their pretax earnings each pay period.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you have any questions about this year’s IRS limits as they relate to these or other employee benefits, <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/">contact us</a> right away.</span><a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/complete-2020-irs-benefit-contribution-limits"></a></p> <img src="https://track.hubspot.com/__ptq.gif?a=457237&amp;k=14&amp;r=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%2Fblog%2F2023-irs-limits-hsa-hdhp-fsa-401k-contributions&amp;bu=https%253A%252F%252Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%252Fblog&amp;bvt=rss" alt="" width="1" height="1" style="min-height:1px!important;width:1px!important;border-width:0!important;margin-top:0!important;margin-bottom:0!important;margin-right:0!important;margin-left:0!important;padding-top:0!important;padding-bottom:0!important;padding-right:0!important;padding-left:0!important; "> Compliance Employee Communications HSAs Retirement Planning HDHPs FSAs Tue, 01 Nov 2022 20:07:02 GMT drook@griffinbenefits.com (David Rook) https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/2023-irs-limits-hsa-hdhp-fsa-401k-contributions 2022-11-01T20:07:02Z IRS Extends ACA Affordability to Other Tiers of Coverage https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/irs-extends-aca-affordability-to-other-coverage-tiers <div class="hs-featured-image-wrapper"> <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/irs-extends-aca-affordability-to-other-coverage-tiers" title="" class="hs-featured-image-link"> <img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hubfs/Shutterstock_395324863.jpg" alt="IRS Extends ACA Affordability to Other Tiers of Coverage" class="hs-featured-image" style="width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;"> </a> </div> <p>Earlier this year the IRS announced proposed regulations extending ACA affordability to other tiers of employer-sponsored group medical coverage (employee + child/spouse, family, etc.). Today the <a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/10/13/2022-22184/affordability-of-employer-coverage-for-family-members-of-employees">IRS released final regulations</a>. &nbsp;</p> <p>Previously, ACA affordability was based solely on the employee-only tier of coverage. If an employee was offered affordable, minimum-value coverage, the spouse and dependent children would not be eligible to purchase subsidized coverage on the exchange. <br><br>Under this new rule, if the family tier of coverage is not affordable, spouses and/or dependent children will now be eligible to purchase subsidized coverage on the exchange, provided they don’t have their own offer of affordable coverage.</p> <h1><span></span></h1> <p><span><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/Shutterstock_395324863.jpg?width=835&amp;name=Shutterstock_395324863.jpg" alt="IRS Rules on ACA Affordability Guidelines " width="835" style="width: 835px;"></span></p> <p>Earlier this year the IRS announced proposed regulations extending ACA affordability to other tiers of employer-sponsored group medical coverage (employee + child/spouse, family, etc.). Today the <a href="https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/10/13/2022-22184/affordability-of-employer-coverage-for-family-members-of-employees">IRS released final regulations</a>. &nbsp;</p> <p>Previously, ACA affordability was based solely on the employee-only tier of coverage. If an employee was offered affordable, minimum-value coverage, the spouse and dependent children would not be eligible to purchase subsidized coverage on the exchange. <br><br>Under this new rule, if the family tier of coverage is not affordable, spouses and/or dependent children will now be eligible to purchase subsidized coverage on the exchange, provided they don’t have their own offer of affordable coverage.</p> <h1><span></span><span style="font-size: 24px;"><strong>EMPLOYERS ARE NOT EXPOSED TO NEW PENALTY RISKS</strong></span></h1> <p>This change does not expose employers to new penalty risks since employer penalties are still based on whether the employee-only tier of coverage is affordable.</p> <p>If employee-only coverage is affordable, an employee cannot purchase subsidized coverage and will not trigger employer penalties. This is the case even if an employee needs family coverage and the family tier is not affordable.&nbsp;<br><span style="background-color: transparent;"></span></p> <ul> <li><span style="background-color: transparent;">This change is effective January 1, 2023 regardless of the employer’s plan year – remember, since this doesn’t create new employer penalties, there is no additional risk for employers (other than possible decreases in enrollment).</span></li> </ul> <ul> <li>Affordability for the family tier is based on whether the employee contribution exceeds the applicable percentage of household income (9.61% for 2022 and 9.12% for 2023) – since employers don’t know household income they won’t have any insight into whether family members are eligible for subsidies unless the employee contribution towards family meets one of the existing safe harbors.</li> </ul> <ul> <li>The IRS announced a new qualifying event that will allow employees enrolled in family coverage that is not affordable to drop those family members mid-year so they may enroll in subsidized coverage through the exchange – this is a permitted election change, not a HIPAA Special Enrollment Right, therefore plans are not required to allow this change. &nbsp;</li> </ul> <h1><span style="font-size: 24px;"><strong>EXAMPLES ILLUSTRATING SUBSIDY ELIGIBILITY</strong></span></h1> <p>Below are several examples illustrating subsidy eligibility based on offers of coverage. Assume S1 (Spouse 1) &amp; S2 (Spouse 2) are married, and C (Child) is their 14-year-old child.</p> <p><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/ACA%20Affordabilty%20Guidelines.jpg?width=1174&amp;name=ACA%20Affordabilty%20Guidelines.jpg" alt="ACA Affordabilty Guidelines" width="1174" style="width: 1174px;"></p> <p>In the example in the second to the last row, S2 is not eligible for a subsidy even though the offer of coverage made by his/her employer is not affordable. S2 effectively loses his/her subsidy eligibility because the offer of family coverage by S1's employer is affordable. &nbsp; <br><br>In the final example, on the bottom row, assume C is 24 rather than 14 years of age. For purposes of affordability, family members only include children who are tax dependents. Unless C is still considered a tax dependent of S1 &amp; S2, C would not be considered an eligible family member for purposes of affordability. <br><br>C’s subsidy eligibility would depend on whether they were offered affordable coverage by their own employer. This is the case even though C would be eligible for coverage under both S1’s and S2’s employer plans.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 24px;"><strong>IN CLOSING</strong></span></p> <p style="line-height: 1.5;">If you have any additional questions regarding ACA affordability and how this new IRS ruling impacts you as an employer, <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/">contact us</a>. Our HUB Advisors, along with our Compliance Practice Leaders, will help you sort things out.&nbsp;</p> <p style="line-height: 1.5;">You can view more compliance articles in our <a href="https://www.hubinternational.com/products/employee-benefits/compliance-bulletins/">Compliance Directory</a>.</p> <p style="line-height: 1.5;"><span style="font-size: 14px;">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">NOTICE OF DISCLAIMER</span> 

<span style="font-style: italic;">Neither</span> <em><a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/">JP Griffin Group</a>, <a href="https://www.hubinternational.com/">Hub International Limited</a>, nor any of its affiliated companies is a law or accounting firm, and therefore they cannot provide legal or tax advice. The information herein is provided for general information only, and is not intended to constitute legal or tax advice as to an organization’s or individual's specific circumstances. It is based on Hub International's understanding of the law as it exists on the date of this publication. Subsequent developments may result in this information becoming outdated or incorrect and Hub International does not have an obligation to update this information. You should consult an attorney, accountant, or other legal or tax professional regarding the application of the general information provided here to your organization’s specific situation in light of your or your organization’s particular needs.</em></span></p> <img src="https://track.hubspot.com/__ptq.gif?a=457237&amp;k=14&amp;r=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%2Fblog%2Firs-extends-aca-affordability-to-other-coverage-tiers&amp;bu=https%253A%252F%252Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%252Fblog&amp;bvt=rss" alt="" width="1" height="1" style="min-height:1px!important;width:1px!important;border-width:0!important;margin-top:0!important;margin-bottom:0!important;margin-right:0!important;margin-left:0!important;padding-top:0!important;padding-bottom:0!important;padding-right:0!important;padding-left:0!important; "> Compliance ACA PPACA Thu, 13 Oct 2022 17:48:06 GMT cory.jorbin@hubinternational.com (Cory Jorbin, Esq.) https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/irs-extends-aca-affordability-to-other-coverage-tiers 2022-10-13T17:48:06Z Understanding FMLA Leave for Mental Health Conditions https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/fmla-leave-for-mental-health-conditions <div class="hs-featured-image-wrapper"> <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/fmla-leave-for-mental-health-conditions" title="" class="hs-featured-image-link"> <img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hubfs/Shutterstock_292627211.jpg" alt="Understanding FMLA Leave for Mental Health Conditions" class="hs-featured-image" style="width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;"> </a> </div> <p>Mental health is a growing concern in the workplace. Over the past few years, many employees have experienced mental health issues, such as burnout, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. <br><br>Employers have responded by expanding mental health benefits, including adding mental health programs, increasing schedule flexibility, offering telemedicine options for mental health, and providing more mental health education. <br><br>Despite the amplified focus on mental health, employees’ mental health issues are still commonly overlooked, especially since they may not be as readily apparent as physical ailments. However, in reality, employees may sometimes be unable to work because of their mental health issues.<br>&nbsp;<br>While employers pursue various ways to support employees struggling with mental health issues, it’s also important to be aware of and offer appropriate leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). <br><br>The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) <a href="https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fact-sheets/28o-mental-health">recently issued a fact sheet</a> relating to an employee’s ability to use FMLA leave for their own or a family member’s mental health condition. <br><br>Today we'll provide an overview of the FMLA, the DOL’s guidance, FMLA assistance for employees struggling with mental health issues, and ways employers can support their employees.</p> <h1><span></span></h1> <p><span><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/Shutterstock_292627211.jpg?width=835&amp;name=Shutterstock_292627211.jpg" alt="FMLA Leave For Mental Health" width="835" style="width: 835px;"></span></p> <p>Mental health is a growing concern in the workplace. Over the past few years, many employees have experienced mental health issues, such as burnout, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. <br><br>Employers have responded by expanding mental health benefits, including adding mental health programs, increasing schedule flexibility, offering telemedicine options for mental health, and providing more mental health education. <br><br>Despite the amplified focus on mental health, employees’ mental health issues are still commonly overlooked, especially since they may not be as readily apparent as physical ailments. However, in reality, employees may sometimes be unable to work because of their mental health issues.<br>&nbsp;<br>While employers pursue various ways to support employees struggling with mental health issues, it’s also important to be aware of and offer appropriate leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). <br><br>The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) <a href="https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fact-sheets/28o-mental-health">recently issued a fact sheet</a> relating to an employee’s ability to use FMLA leave for their own or a family member’s mental health condition. <br><br>Today we'll provide an overview of the FMLA, the DOL’s guidance, FMLA assistance for employees struggling with mental health issues, and ways employers can support their employees.</p> <h1><span></span><span style="font-size: 24px;"><strong>FMLA OVERVIEW</strong></span></h1> The FMLA provides job-protected leave for eligible employees of covered employers for their own or a family member’s serious health condition. To be eligible, an employee must: <br>&nbsp; <br> <ul> <li>Work for a covered employer</li> <li>Have worked for the covered employer for at least 12 months</li> <li>Have worked at least 1,250 hours for the covered employer during the 12 months prior to leave</li> <li>Work at a location where the covered employer has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius</li> </ul> <p>The FMLA provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, which may be taken continuously or intermittently. An employer must maintain the employee’s group health benefits while on leave. Upon return, the employee must be restored to the same or equivalent job, meaning similar pay and responsibilities.</p> <h1 style="font-size: 24px;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">LEAVE FOR MENTAL HEALTH CONDITIONS</span></h1> Eligible employees may take FMLA leave to address mental health conditions. Under the FMLA, a mental health condition is considered a serious health condition if it requires inpatient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider. <br>&nbsp; <br> <ul> <li>Inpatient care—A serious mental health condition that requires inpatient care includes an overnight stay in a hospital or other medical care facility, such as a treatment center for addiction or eating disorders.</li> <li>Continuing treatment—A serious mental health condition that requires continuing treatment by a health care provider includes the following:</li> <li>Conditions that incapacitate an individual for more than three consecutive days and require ongoing medical treatment, either multiple appointments with a health care provider or a single appointment and follow-up care.</li> <li>Chronic conditions that cause occasional periods when an individual is incapacitated and requires treatment by a health care provider at least twice a year.</li> </ul> <p>Some mental health conditions satisfy both of the definitions of “disability” and “serious health condition.” Under the FMLA, a disability is a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The FMLA uses the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to define and determine if a condition is a disability.</p> <p>According to the EEOC, conditions that “should easily be concluded” to be “substantially limiting” include major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia. Periodic conditions are considered disabilities if they substantially limit a major activity when active.<br>&nbsp;<br>Employers may require employees to submit a certification from a health care provider to support their need for FMLA leave. While the certificate does not require a diagnosis, the information provided must be sufficient to support the need for leave.</p> <h1 style="font-size: 24px;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">FAMILY MEMBER WITH MENTAL HEALTH CONDITION</span></h1> <p>The FMLA permits eligible employees to take leave to provide care for a spouse, child or parent who is unable to work or perform other regular daily activities because of a mental health condition. Providing psychological comfort and reassurance that would benefit a family member with a serious health condition who is receiving inpatient or home care is covered under the FMLA.<br>&nbsp;<br>FMLA leave to provide care for a child with a serious health condition is generally limited to providing care for a child under the age of 18. However, a parent may use FMLA leave to care for a child 18 years and older who is in need of care for a serious health condition if the adult child is incapable of self-care due to a mental or physical disability. The disability does not need to have occurred or been diagnosed before the age of 18; it may start at any age.</p> <h1 style="font-size: 24px;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">EMPLOYERS' DUTY OF CONFIDENTIALITY</span></h1> <p>The FMLA requires employers to keep employee medical records confidential and maintain them in separate files from regular personnel files. Employers also must maintain employee records with confidentiality as required under other laws, such as the ADA or the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. However, employers may inform supervisors and managers of an employee’s need for leave or if an employee requires work restrictions or accommodations.'</p> <h1 style="font-size: 24px;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">EMPLOYERS ARE PROTECTED FROM RETALIATION</span></h1> <p>Employers are prohibited from interfering with, restraining or denying an employee’s exercise—or attempt to exercise—any FMLA right. This includes refusing to permit an employee to take FMLA leave or disclosing—or threatening to disclose—an employee’s or their family member’s mental condition to discourage them from taking FMLA leave.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: bold; font-size: 20px;"><span style="font-size: 24px;">EMPLOYERS CAN SUPPORT THEIR EMPLOYEES</span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Employers can support employees struggling with mental health conditions by recognizing situations where an employee’s behavior creates difficulties or concerns at work. Employers can train managers to recognize when an employee may need FMLA leave for mental health issues. By speaking to that employee, an employer can identify any assistance that may help the employee perform their job or manage their mental health. In some cases, an employer may be obligated to treat an employee’s behavior as a request for FMLA leave.</p> <h1 style="font-size: 24px;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">SUMMARY</span></h1> <p>By understanding FMLA requirements for mental health conditions, employers can better support their workforce and avoid potential violations. In many situations, employees may be entitled to protections under other federal employment laws, state family and medical leave laws and collective bargaining agreements. Accordingly, employers are encouraged to discuss any specific FMLA-related questions with an employment attorney.</p> <p style="line-height: 1.5;">If you have any additional questions regarding FMLA or other <a href="https://www.hubinternational.com/products/employee-benefits/workforce-absence-management/">Workforce Absence Management</a> issues, please contact your <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/">HUB Advisor</a>. You can view more compliance articles in our <a href="https://www.hubinternational.com/products/employee-benefits/compliance-bulletins/">Compliance Directory</a>.<br><br><br><span style="font-size: 14px;">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">NOTICE OF DISCLAIMER</span> 

<span style="font-style: italic;">Neither</span> <em><a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/">JP Griffin Group</a>, <a href="https://www.hubinternational.com/">Hub International Limited</a>, nor any of its affiliated companies is a law or accounting firm, and therefore they cannot provide legal or tax advice. The information herein is provided for general information only, and is not intended to constitute legal or tax advice as to an organization’s or individual's specific circumstances. It is based on Hub International's understanding of the law as it exists on the date of this publication. Subsequent developments may result in this information becoming outdated or incorrect and Hub International does not have an obligation to update this information. You should consult an attorney, accountant, or other legal or tax professional regarding the application of the general information provided here to your organization’s specific situation in light of your or your organization’s particular needs.</em></span></p> <img src="https://track.hubspot.com/__ptq.gif?a=457237&amp;k=14&amp;r=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%2Fblog%2Ffmla-leave-for-mental-health-conditions&amp;bu=https%253A%252F%252Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%252Fblog&amp;bvt=rss" alt="" width="1" height="1" style="min-height:1px!important;width:1px!important;border-width:0!important;margin-top:0!important;margin-bottom:0!important;margin-right:0!important;margin-left:0!important;padding-top:0!important;padding-bottom:0!important;padding-right:0!important;padding-left:0!important; "> Compliance Workforce Absence Management Wed, 05 Oct 2022 14:49:44 GMT jgriffin@griffinbenefits.com (Jeff Griffin) https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/fmla-leave-for-mental-health-conditions 2022-10-05T14:49:44Z Employer Reporting on Prescription Drug Pricing Due By 12/27 https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/employer-prescription-drug-reporting-obligations <div class="hs-featured-image-wrapper"> <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/employer-prescription-drug-reporting-obligations" title="" class="hs-featured-image-link"> <img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hubfs/Shutterstock_523690588.jpg" alt="Employer Reporting on Prescription Drug Pricing Due By 12/27" class="hs-featured-image" style="width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;"> </a> </div> <p>Among the various transparency rules contained within the Consolidated Appropriations Act is a requirement for employers to provide certain plan information about prescription drugs. The deadline for that reporting is December 27 of this year, but preparations are beginning now.<br><br>Employers, particularly those with self-funded plans, should start working with their health and prescription drug providers now, if they haven't already, to ensure their program’s reporting readiness capability.<br><br><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-weight: bold; font-size: 20px;">Background</span><br></span>As <a href="https://www.hubinternational.com/products/employee-benefits/compliance-bulletins/2021/12/pharmacy-and-health-plan-reporting-rules/">we previously reported</a>, interim final rules released last year provided initial detail about the reporting requirements. More recently, and specifically regarding prescription drugs, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) has provided additional detail on what information must be included.</p> <p><span><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/Shutterstock_523690588.jpg?width=832&amp;name=Shutterstock_523690588.jpg" alt="Shutterstock_523690588" width="832" style="width: 832px;"></span></p> <p>Among the various transparency rules contained within the Consolidated Appropriations Act is a requirement for employers to provide certain plan information about prescription drugs. The deadline for that reporting is December 27 of this year, but preparations are beginning now.<br><br>Employers, particularly those with self-funded plans, should start working with their health and prescription drug providers now, if they haven't already, to ensure their program’s reporting readiness capability.<br><br><span style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-weight: bold; font-size: 20px;">Background</span><br></span>As <a href="https://www.hubinternational.com/products/employee-benefits/compliance-bulletins/2021/12/pharmacy-and-health-plan-reporting-rules/">we previously reported</a>, interim final rules released last year provided initial detail about the reporting requirements. More recently, and specifically regarding prescription drugs, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) has provided additional detail on what information must be included.</p> <p><span></span><span>In addition to some general plan information, reportable prescription drug information includes:</span></p> <ul> <li><span style="background-color: transparent;"><strong>Premiums and Life Years</strong> – Premiums include all money paid for plan coverage, whether by employees, dependents, or the employer. This amount includes fees or any other contributions associated with the coverage. CMS defines “Life Years" as the average number of members (both participants and beneficiaries) covered throughout the year. Life Years looks at the number of individuals covered every month, adds those together, and divides by 12.<br><br></span></li> <li><strong>Spending by Category</strong> – This reporting requirement primarily relates to medical benefits, not prescription drugs offered under the prescription drug portion of the plan. It will, however, include detailed information about prescription drugs covered under the medical benefit portion of the plan (which are typically in-patient hospital drugs).<br><br></li> <li><strong>Top 50 Most Frequent Brand Drugs</strong> – This requires mandated reporting about the brand name drugs most frequently dispensed during the reporting year.<br><br></li> <li><strong>Top 50 Most Costly Drugs</strong> – These should be tracked and measured for the reporting year.<br><br></li> <li><strong>Top 50 Drugs by Spending Increase</strong> – This reporting category highlights apples-to-apples Rx spending compared to the prior year.<br><br></li> <li><strong>Rx Totals</strong> – These are comprehensive gross payments under the plan or policy for the year.<br><br></li> <li><strong>Rx Rebates by Therapeutic Class</strong>.<br><br></li> <li><strong>Rx Rebates for the Top 25 Drugs</strong> – This reporting element spotlights the 25 drugs with the highest rebate amounts.</li> </ul> <br>Note that each listed item carries additional nuanced details that must be reported. This reporting is due by December 27 of this year and must include information for the 2020 and 2021 calendar years, regardless of the plan or policy year. After this year, reporting will be due by June 1 for the prior calendar year (so reporting for 2022 will be due by June 1, 2023). <br> <p><br>Excepted benefits (e.g., stand-alone vision or dental, among others) that are generally exempt from Affordable Care Act requirements are also exempt from this reporting. Additionally, account-based plans, like health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and health care flexible spending accounts (FSAs), are not required to report. Finally, short-term limited duration insurance (which is typically an individual market product) is also exempt.<br><br><span style="font-weight: bold; font-size: 20px;">Practical Challenges</span><br>Fully-insured employers may contract with their insurance carriers to provide prescription drug reporting on their behalf. Contracting should be fairly straightforward and likely does not present a special challenge apart from the need to explicitly contract with the carrier.<br><br>For employers with a self-funded plan where medical and pharmacy benefits are handled by the same administrative services only/third party administrator (“TPA”), the employer will need to contract with its TPA to provide this reporting. &nbsp;&nbsp;<br><br>Some TPAs are willing to handle all the reporting. However, others are saying that certain data elements (such as the first two bulleted items above as well as some general plan information) may require additional coordination with outside parties. As a result, such reportable items would become the employer’s responsibility. This may mean the employer must handle some reporting, which could require registering with CMS’s Health Insurance Oversight System (“HIOS”), or to work with other vendors to provide this reporting.<br><br>For employers with a self-funded plan where pharmacy is carved out and handled by a separate pharmacy benefit manager (“PBM”), the PBM will likely handle most of the reporting. However, here again, the employer may be responsible for certain data elements (like 1 and 2 above as well as some general plan information) which may require a registration with HIOS. It may also be possible for the employer to contract with the TPA to handle any additionally required reporting.<br><br><span style="font-weight: bold; font-size: 20px;">Conclusion</span><br>Given the short timeframe between now and the looming reporting due date, employers should work with their insurance carriers, TPAs, PBMs, and other service providers to ensure prescription drug reporting is accurately handled and timely submitted.&nbsp; <br><br>If local circumstances require that the employer directly report certain information on its own plan's behalf, the employer should familiarize itself with the reporting instructions released by CMS and <a href="https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Programs-and-Initiatives/Other-Insurance-Protections/Prescription-Drug-Data-Collection">available&nbsp;here</a>&nbsp;(which also includes links to other resources). The rules can be complex, so careful attention is warranted.<br><br>If you have any questions, please contact your&nbsp;<a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/">HUB Advisor</a>. You can view more compliance articles in our <a href="https://www.hubinternational.com/products/employee-benefits/compliance-bulletins/">Compliance Directory</a>.<br><br><span style="font-size: 14px;">
<span style="font-weight: bold;">NOTICE OF DISCLAIMER</span><a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/"> 

</a><em><a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/">JP Griffin Group</a>, <a href="https://www.hubinternational.com/">Hub International Limited</a>, nor any of its affiliated companies is a law or accounting firm, and therefore they cannot provide legal or tax advice. The information herein is provided for general information only, and is not intended to constitute legal or tax advice as to an organization’s or individual's specific circumstances. It is based on Hub International's understanding of the law as it exists on the date of this publication. Subsequent developments may result in this information becoming outdated or incorrect and Hub International does not have an obligation to update this information. You should consult an attorney, accountant, or other legal or tax professional regarding the application of the general information provided here to your organization’s specific situation in light of your or your organization’s particular needs.</em></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <img src="https://track.hubspot.com/__ptq.gif?a=457237&amp;k=14&amp;r=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%2Fblog%2Femployer-prescription-drug-reporting-obligations&amp;bu=https%253A%252F%252Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%252Fblog&amp;bvt=rss" alt="" width="1" height="1" style="min-height:1px!important;width:1px!important;border-width:0!important;margin-top:0!important;margin-bottom:0!important;margin-right:0!important;margin-left:0!important;padding-top:0!important;padding-bottom:0!important;padding-right:0!important;padding-left:0!important; "> Compliance Price Transparency Fri, 30 Sep 2022 15:55:00 GMT jgriffin@griffinbenefits.com (Jeff Griffin) https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/employer-prescription-drug-reporting-obligations 2022-09-30T15:55:00Z Organizational Downsizing Considerations https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/organizational-downsizing-considerations <div class="hs-featured-image-wrapper"> <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/organizational-downsizing-considerations" title="" class="hs-featured-image-link"> <img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hubfs/Shutterstock_2048531876.jpg" alt="Organizational Downsizing Considerations" class="hs-featured-image" style="width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;"> </a> </div> <p><a href="https://www.hubinternational.com/blog/2022/04/leave-administration/"></a></p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">Deciding to terminate an employee is never easy, and it only becomes more difficult and complex when companies need to eliminate multiple employees in their workforce.</p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">Organizations downsize for many reasons, but mass layoffs are most common during times of market volatility or poor financial performance. Whatever the reason, successfully downsizing can be challenging and is rarely risk-free. It can have a lasting impact on an organization and its reputation. However, a strategic and careful approach to downsizing can mitigate potential damage and put a struggling organization on the road to success.<br>&nbsp;<br>Today we'll explore organizational downsizing, including why organizations downsize, strategic approaches and considerations when downsizing, possible alternatives, and potential legal issues.</p> <p><a href="https://www.hubinternational.com/blog/2022/04/leave-administration/"><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/Shutterstock_2048531876.jpg?width=835&amp;name=Shutterstock_2048531876.jpg" alt="Layoffs Downsizing Furloughs" width="835" style="width: 835px;"></a></p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">Deciding to terminate an employee is never easy, and it only becomes more difficult and complex when companies need to eliminate multiple employees in their workforce.</p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">Organizations downsize for many reasons, but mass layoffs are most common during times of market volatility or poor financial performance. Whatever the reason, successfully downsizing can be challenging and is rarely risk-free. It can have a lasting impact on an organization and its reputation. However, a strategic and careful approach to downsizing can mitigate potential damage and put a struggling organization on the road to success.<br>&nbsp;<br>Today we'll explore organizational downsizing, including why organizations downsize, strategic approaches and considerations when downsizing, possible alternatives, and potential legal issues.</p> <p style="font-weight: normal;"></p> <h2>WHAT IS DOWNSIZING?</h2> <p>Downsizing is the process in which organizations reduce their operational costs by reducing headcount. This may include reducing the workforce’s size by offering voluntary separation or early retirement programs, closing facilities or involuntarily terminating employees through layoffs.</p> <h2>WHY DO ORGANIZATIONS DOWNSIZE?</h2> Organizations downsize for many reasons, including the following: <br> <br> <ul> <li>Cost reduction</li> <li>Improved efficiency</li> <li>Increased profits by reducing overhead</li> <li>Technological advancements</li> <li>A recession</li> <li>Industry decline</li> <li>Mergers and acquisitions</li> <li>A national disaster or crisis</li> <li>Industry competition</li> <li>Market trends</li> </ul> Depending on the organization and industry, employee compensation and benefits can sometimes account for at least half of an organization’s total operating expenses, or, in some cases, even more. As such, many organizations reduce headcount as an effective and immediate way to cut costs. <br> <br> <h2>APPROACHING DOWNSIZING STRATEGICALLY</h2> <p>Due to the complexities and potential risks involved in downsizing, organizations need to be strategic and organized about their approach. Downsizing is rarely risk-free, so careful planning can help identify and address concerns and potential issues. <br><br>Employers need to plan to manage their remaining employees and proactively address potential morale issues. In addition, they also need to consider how best to deal with benefits administration, reference requests, employment verification, unemployment insurance claims, and potential lawsuits from former employees.<br>&nbsp;<br>Organizations also need to consider the costs associated with their decision to downsize. This may include effectively addressing decreased employee productivity, talent loss, future hiring challenges, and the costs of early retirement and severance packages.</p> <h2>CONSIDERING LAYOFF ALTERNATIVES</h2> Layoffs are not the only option for employers seeking to reduce costs by decreasing headcount. Before resorting to layoffs, an employer needs to evaluate the potential consequences of downsizing. Employers need to ensure the value created by streamlining the organization outweighs potential risks, including legal liabilities, reputational damage and decreased employee morale. Employers may want to consider the following alternatives: <br>&nbsp; <br> <ul> <li>Job sharing</li> <li>Furloughs</li> <li>Reducing employee pay, benefits or job perks</li> <li>Hiring freezes</li> <li>Contract or temporary employees</li> <li>Part-time employees</li> <li>Shortened workweek</li> <li>Voluntary separation or early retirement programs</li> <li>Reductions in force</li> <li>Wasteful practice elimination or reduction (e.g., high-cost travel and free employee meals)</li> </ul> <p>Successfully implementing an alternative—or a combination of alternatives—requires planning. In some situations, alternatives may be more effective in helping employers achieve their organizational goals than layoffs.</p> <h2>CHOOSING WHICH EMPLOYEES TO LAYOFF</h2> Downsizing typically requires employers to decide which employees or groups of employees to terminate. Many organizations establish criteria for selecting which employees to lay off. Common selection criteria may include: <br>&nbsp; <br> <ul> <li>Seniority</li> <li>Employee status (e.g., full-time, part-time or contingent)</li> <li>Merit</li> <li>Skills</li> </ul> In many situations, relying on a combination of criteria can be the most effective approach. Employers opting for this approach can rank the criteria based on their organization’s goals, needs and values. Choosing objective criteria when letting employees go can sometimes help protect employers from federal, state and local violations. <br>&nbsp; <br>When organizations downsize, employers need to notify impacted employees that they’re being laid off. Sometimes employers are legally required to provide notice under federal, state and local laws. Clear communication keeps employees informed about what’s happening and can help organizations rally employee morale and productivity. <br> <br>In most situations, layoffs are permanent, but sometimes employers may rehire employees after restructuring. If layoffs are permanent, employers can provide employees with adequate time to search for new work or receive training to reskill. If layoffs are temporary, offering employees details about anticipated timelines for returning can help them plan for when they will be without work. <br>&nbsp; <br>Selecting which employees to lay off may bring other changes, such as being forced to close facilities or consolidating locations or departments. An organization’s day-to-day operations may need to change as well. In some situations, employees may need to take on new roles and responsibilities to compensate for fewer employees. <br> <br> <h2>UNDERSTANDING POTENTIAL LEGAL RISKS</h2> Employers need to consider legal risks when downsizing. Terminating a single employee can present a host of legal issues, but downsizing multiples that risk with each additional employee that’s let go. <br>&nbsp; <br>When deciding to downsize, employers need to consider the various federal, state and local laws and regulations that employee layoffs may trigger. Typically, employers need to consider the following federal laws and regulations: <br> <br> <ul> <li>Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act</li> <li>Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964</li> <li>Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967</li> <li>Older Workers Benefit Protection Act</li> <li>Fair Labor Standards Act</li> <li>Family and Medical Leave Act</li> <li>Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act</li> <li>Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974</li> <li>Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act</li> <li>Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996</li> </ul> In addition, employers may need to review state laws or local requirements regarding unemployment insurance, severance pay, accrued and unused paid time off, vacation pay, sick or other leave, and personnel records. <br>&nbsp; <br>This article only provides an overview of potential legal concerns resulting from downsizing and an introduction to some of the applicable laws. Employers are encouraged to seek legal counsel to discuss specific issues and concerns. <br> <br> <h2>FINAL THOUGHTS</h2> <p>It’s in an organization’s best interest to ensure that downsizing is done competently and efficiently. Organizations can accomplish this through planning properly and understanding the various options and risks. Downsizing may be necessary for some organizations, but the right practices can mitigate risk and set an organization up for long-term success.</p> <p>For more information on managing workforce talent, contact <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/">JP Griffin Group</a>, a division of <a href="http://www.hubinternational.com">HUB International</a>, today. Our HR Workforce Specialty Practice Experts are ready to assist.</p> <p style="line-height: 1;"><a class="cta_button" href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/cs/ci/?pg=c7e51150-1595-428b-9c34-33c05de5208e&amp;pid=457237&amp;ecid=&amp;hseid=&amp;hsic="><img class="hs-cta-img " style="border-width: 0px; /*hs-extra-styles*/; " alt="New call-to-action" src="https://no-cache.hubspot.com/cta/default/457237/c7e51150-1595-428b-9c34-33c05de5208e.png"></a></p> <img src="https://track.hubspot.com/__ptq.gif?a=457237&amp;k=14&amp;r=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%2Fblog%2Forganizational-downsizing-considerations&amp;bu=https%253A%252F%252Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%252Fblog&amp;bvt=rss" alt="" width="1" height="1" style="min-height:1px!important;width:1px!important;border-width:0!important;margin-top:0!important;margin-bottom:0!important;margin-right:0!important;margin-left:0!important;padding-top:0!important;padding-bottom:0!important;padding-right:0!important;padding-left:0!important; "> Strategy Downsizing Tue, 20 Sep 2022 15:50:52 GMT drook@griffinbenefits.com (David Rook) https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/organizational-downsizing-considerations 2022-09-20T15:50:52Z Workplace Mental Health - The Benefits of Exercise https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/workplace-mental-health-and-exercise <div class="hs-featured-image-wrapper"> <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/workplace-mental-health-and-exercise" title="" class="hs-featured-image-link"> <img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hubfs/Shutterstock_2131275765.jpg" alt="Workplace Mental Health - The Benefits of Exercise" class="hs-featured-image" style="width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;"> </a> </div> <p><a href="https://www.hubinternational.com/blog/2022/04/leave-administration/"></a></p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">While physical exercise is known to be good for the body, it's now irrefutable that it's also good for the mind. When exercise is included as part of an everyday routine, participants reap both physical and mental well-being benefits.</p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">Research continues to validate that exercise can improve mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and a negative mood. And to underscore what's now obvious, the sustained prevalence of mental health issues brought on by the pandemic makes exercise all the more important these days. <br><br>Today we'll explore the connection between the body and mind, the mental health benefits of physical activity, and the importance of workplace wellness programs focused on both.</p> <p><a href="https://www.hubinternational.com/blog/2022/04/leave-administration/"><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/Shutterstock_2131275765.jpg?width=835&amp;name=Shutterstock_2131275765.jpg" alt="Shutterstock_2131275765" width="835" style="width: 835px;"></a></p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">While physical exercise is known to be good for the body, it's now irrefutable that it's also good for the mind. When exercise is included as part of an everyday routine, participants reap both physical and mental well-being benefits.</p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">Research continues to validate that exercise can improve mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and a negative mood. And to underscore what's now obvious, the sustained prevalence of mental health issues brought on by the pandemic makes exercise all the more important these days. <br><br>Today we'll explore the connection between the body and mind, the mental health benefits of physical activity, and the importance of workplace wellness programs focused on both.</p> <p style="font-weight: normal;"></p> <h2>THE CONNECTION BETWEEN BODY AND MIND</h2> People who exercise regularly often report having better mental and emotional well-being. Consider the following mental health benefits of exercise: <br> <br> <ul> <li><strong>Mood boost</strong> - Exercise triggers the production of endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, mood-boosting chemicals in the brain. Those four chemicals are responsible for feelings of happiness.</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>More energy</strong> - Increasing the heart rate and boosting oxygen circulation in the body can make us feel more energized. It may seem counterintuitive, but expending energy can actually provide a spark of vitality some need to get through the day.</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Better sleep</strong> - Exercise can help regulate sleep patterns and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. The more active someone is, the more their body pushes them to sleep and reset at night. That said, it's wise to exercise at least one to two hours before bed so the brain has enough time to wind down.</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Reduced stress</strong> - Physical activity reduces the levels of stress hormones (e.g., adrenaline and cortisol). It’s also linked to lower physiological reactivity toward stress, so exercise can also be a coping strategy for stress.</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Improved memory</strong> - An endorphin boost can help with concentration and the feeling of being mentally sharp for work or other tasks.</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Higher self-esteem</strong> - When exercise becomes a habit, participants may feel more powerful or confident. They may also enjoy a sense of accomplishment when they meet their fitness goals.</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Stronger resilience</strong> - Exercise is a healthy way to build resilience and cope with mental or emotional challenges instead of turning to negative behaviors, alcohol, or other substances.</li> </ul> <p>Any movement helps since physical activity of any kind can be beneficial to mental well-being. Exercise can take one's mind off problems or negative thoughts by redirecting them to the activity at hand.</p> <h2>GETTING STARTED</h2> <p>The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get moderate-intensity aerobic activity for at least 150 minutes each week and muscle-strengthening activities two times per week. It may seem like a lot at first, but if we break it down, that’s 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week.<br><br>Even if someone doesn’t have time for 30 minutes to exercise, they should find something that works for them. Any physical activity is better than none. Understandably, getting motivated for a workout can seem more challenging if someone is battling depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.</p> These steps should be considered when someone incorporates exercise into their routine: <br> <br> <ul> <li><strong>Start slowly</strong> - Exercise sessions should begin with short sessions, increasing in duration and intensity over time. The goal is to commit to moderate physical activity and build it into a daily routine.</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Have fun</strong> - Exercise activities should be centered around something the participant enjoys. This makes it far more likely to be incorporated into a routine.</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Capitalize on peak periods of energy</strong> - Workouts should be scheduled when energy levels are at their the highest.</li> </ul> <ul> <li><strong>Find a partner</strong> - Exercising with a friend or loved one can make it more fun. Friendly competition and holding each other accountable also helps in forming routines.</li> </ul> <br> <h2>FITNESS-ORIENTED BENEFIT OPTIONS IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD</h2> <p>Employers who support physical wellness programs have come realize that the fitness landscape has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as the pandemic subsidies, there continues to exist a wide swath of the public who is no longer as comfortable as they once were with indoor group settings.<br><br>Accordingly, as discussed in a <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/fitness-oriented-employee-benefit-options-in-a-post-pandemic-world">previous blog post</a>, employers who historically offered discounted gym memberships or onsite fitness facilities have augmented these benefits with other options such as virtual fitness instruction, subsidies for home fitness equipment, and reimbursements for fitness-oriented event registration fess.<br><br>Employers just need to keep in mind that many of these benefits are a taxable benefit under Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidelines.</p> <h2>FINAL THOUGHTS</h2> <p>Sustaining physical and mental health comes down to making exercise a routine and fun part of everyday life. Those who are hesitant should talk to their doctor if they have any questions or concerns about incorporating exercise into their day.</p> <p>For more information on workplace wellness programs, especially those with mental health benefits, contact <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/">JP Griffin Group</a>, a division of <a href="http://www.hubinternational.com">HUB International</a>, today. Our Health &amp; Performance specialty practice experts are ready to assist.</p> <p style="line-height: 1;"><a class="cta_button" href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/cs/ci/?pg=c7e51150-1595-428b-9c34-33c05de5208e&amp;pid=457237&amp;ecid=&amp;hseid=&amp;hsic="><img class="hs-cta-img " style="border-width: 0px; /*hs-extra-styles*/; " alt="New call-to-action" src="https://no-cache.hubspot.com/cta/default/457237/c7e51150-1595-428b-9c34-33c05de5208e.png"></a></p> <img src="https://track.hubspot.com/__ptq.gif?a=457237&amp;k=14&amp;r=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%2Fblog%2Fworkplace-mental-health-and-exercise&amp;bu=https%253A%252F%252Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%252Fblog&amp;bvt=rss" alt="" width="1" height="1" style="min-height:1px!important;width:1px!important;border-width:0!important;margin-top:0!important;margin-bottom:0!important;margin-right:0!important;margin-left:0!important;padding-top:0!important;padding-bottom:0!important;padding-right:0!important;padding-left:0!important; "> wellness Mental Health Thu, 04 Aug 2022 17:21:00 GMT drook@griffinbenefits.com (David Rook) https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/workplace-mental-health-and-exercise 2022-08-04T17:21:00Z Deferred Medical Care - Employer Tips for Mitigating the Costs https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/cost-mitigation-deffered-medical-care-group-health-plans <div class="hs-featured-image-wrapper"> <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/cost-mitigation-deffered-medical-care-group-health-plans" title="" class="hs-featured-image-link"> <img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hubfs/Shutterstock_1934811245.jpg" alt="Deferred Medical Care - Employer Tips for Mitigating the Costs" class="hs-featured-image" style="width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;"> </a> </div> <p><a href="https://www.hubinternational.com/blog/2022/04/leave-administration/"></a></p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">To keep rising group medical premiums as low as possible, employers have, for years, aggressively promoted preventive medical care. This strategy has been and continues to be one of the best cost containment strategies for taming the alarming and seemingly never-ending increases in health care premiums.</p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">Not only does the early detection of health issues result in better patient outcomes, but it also helps prevent a medical claim from becoming catastrophic in terms of cost. High-cost claims not only create a financial burden for the patient but also contribute to year-over-year increases in medical premiums for the employer, which inevitably trickles down to the entire workforce enrolled in the health plan.</p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">The pandemic, however, changed how individuals accessed health care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 41% of people deferred care during 2020 and 2021 due to concerns related to the pandemic.<br><br>Many individuals who postponed elective or in-person care to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 are now starting to address their deferred care. Accordingly, employers are struggling to respond to this surge in employee health care usage in a cost-effective manner.</p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">Furthermore this deferred care is contributing to an already tight labor market since absences from work for medical appointments and recovery is on the rise.&nbsp;</p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">By implementing strategies to address deferred medical care, employers can better prepare for increased future health care costs and workforce absences. Here are strategies to help employers with these issues.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="https://www.hubinternational.com/blog/2022/04/leave-administration/"><img src="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/hs-fs/hubfs/Shutterstock_1934811245.jpg?width=835&amp;name=Shutterstock_1934811245.jpg" alt="Deferred Medical Care" width="835" style="width: 835px;"></a></p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">To keep rising group medical premiums as low as possible, employers have, for years, aggressively promoted preventive medical care. This strategy has been and continues to be one of the best cost containment strategies for taming the alarming and seemingly never-ending increases in health care premiums.</p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">Not only does the early detection of health issues result in better patient outcomes, but it also helps prevent a medical claim from becoming catastrophic in terms of cost. High-cost claims not only create a financial burden for the patient but also contribute to year-over-year increases in medical premiums for the employer, which inevitably trickles down to the entire workforce enrolled in the health plan.</p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">The pandemic, however, changed how individuals accessed health care. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 41% of people deferred care during 2020 and 2021 due to concerns related to the pandemic.<br><br>Many individuals who postponed elective or in-person care to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 are now starting to address their deferred care. Accordingly, employers are struggling to respond to this surge in employee health care usage in a cost-effective manner.</p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">Furthermore this deferred care is contributing to an already tight labor market since absences from work for medical appointments and recovery is on the rise.&nbsp;</p> <p style="font-weight: normal;">By implementing strategies to address deferred medical care, employers can better prepare for increased future health care costs and workforce absences. Here are strategies to help employers with these issues.&nbsp;</p> <p></p> <h2>GUIDE EMPLOYEES TO COST-EFFECTIVE CARE</h2> <p>As employees start to prioritize their deferred medical needs, employers can help minimize costs by guiding employees to cost-effective care options. For instance, approximately 10% of an employer’s total medical costs are the result of avoidable out-of-network medical expenses, according to Amino. By helping employees stay in-network, employers can aid employees in avoiding unnecessary out-of-network care, thereby reducing overall medical expenses for both groups.<br><br>Employers can also direct employees to cost-effective outpatient care facilities or inpatient care options for procedures and imaging. For example, pointing employees to imaging clinics instead of hospitals for CT scans, MRIs and X-rays can be more affordable. Employer efforts, however, should not dissuade employees from seeking preventive care; doing so could lead to worse future health outcomes and costs.</p> <h2>IMPROVE EMPLOYEE HEALTH LITERACY</h2> <p>Through education, employers can help employees become better health care consumers and avoid unnecessary treatments or expensive procedures. Better educated employees are more likely to reduce health care costs by making better choices.<br><br>Employers can educate employees by creating user-friendly benefits portals that provide employees with easy-to-comprehend information, such as health plan options, forms, enrollment calendars, and links to health resources. In addition, employers’ efforts to educate employees must occur year-round instead of only during open enrollment. Employers can do this by providing employees with educational resources in emails, flyers, webinars, videos, and workshops.<br><br>Employers can also fight the costs of postponed medical care by encouraging employees to stay healthy. By incentivizing employees to exercise daily, eat better, reduce stress, and regularly visit the doctor, employers can help employees decrease their medical needs and improve their overall well-being.</p> <p>Back in March of 2021 we discussed how <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/fitness-oriented-employee-benefit-options-in-a-post-pandemic-world">employers were adjusting their fitness-oriented benefit options in a post-pandemic work environment</a>. And while gym memberships are once again on the rebound, it would still be wise for employers to explore new possibilities for the post-pandemic world.</p> <h2>LEVERAGE TECHNOLOGY</h2> <p>Leveraging technology can also help employers reduce the costs of deferred medical care. Technology enables employees to easily access and review their benefits, helping them become more educated on their employers’ benefits offerings and make better, cost-saving choices.<br><br>Advances in technology have even allowed individuals to stay healthy when they forgo in-person medical visits. Telemedicine, for example, has become a more accessible and affordable way to treat more individuals by offering flexible and cost-effective care.</p> <p>It can also provide faster and more frequent care, which can help employees stay at work, stay healthy and reduce overall costs. In addition to telemedicine, individuals can utilize chronic condition management apps, virtual health programs and digital physical therapy solutions to stay healthy and reduce health care costs.</p> <h2>EXPAND ACCESS TO SECOND OPINIONS</h2> <p>Obtaining a second medical opinion can improve an individual’s care and health outcomes, especially in cases of rare health conditions requiring specialized treatment. Employers may assume second opinions will only increase health care expenses and absenteeism. However, primarily when provided by top doctors and specialists, second opinions may decrease overall medical expenses by reducing overtreatment and misdiagnosis.<br><br>Although a second opinion can effectively reduce health care costs, employees rarely seek them out. By providing access to a large network of top medical experts and specialists, employers can incentivize employees to get second opinions, drastically improving health outcomes and, in some instances, saving lives.<br><br>Advances in telemedicine allow employees greater and more affordable access to leading medical experts for second opinions. Employees with access to a large network of the best available care may be healthier and happier and more loyal to an employer.</p> <h2>FINAL THOUGHTS</h2> Increased costs due to deferred care will likely continue to impact employers for the foreseeable future. However, savvy employers will implement effective strategies now to prepare for and address employees’ delayed care. Doing so may allow employers to reign in rising health care costs and productivity expenses, all while keeping employees healthy and safe. <br> <br>Employers who proactively implement strategies to address the costs of deferred medical care will likely be better positioned to meet employee needs and prepare for unforeseen challenges. <br> <br>For more information on mitigating group health plan costs, as well as workforce absence management strategies, contact <a href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/">JP Griffin Group</a>, a division of <a href="http://www.hubinternational.com">HUB International</a>, today. <br> <br> <p style="line-height: 1;"><a class="cta_button" href="https://www.griffinbenefits.com/cs/ci/?pg=c7e51150-1595-428b-9c34-33c05de5208e&amp;pid=457237&amp;ecid=&amp;hseid=&amp;hsic="><img class="hs-cta-img " style="border-width: 0px; /*hs-extra-styles*/; " alt="New call-to-action" src="https://no-cache.hubspot.com/cta/default/457237/c7e51150-1595-428b-9c34-33c05de5208e.png"></a></p> <img src="https://track.hubspot.com/__ptq.gif?a=457237&amp;k=14&amp;r=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%2Fblog%2Fcost-mitigation-deffered-medical-care-group-health-plans&amp;bu=https%253A%252F%252Fwww.griffinbenefits.com%252Fblog&amp;bvt=rss" alt="" width="1" height="1" style="min-height:1px!important;width:1px!important;border-width:0!important;margin-top:0!important;margin-bottom:0!important;margin-right:0!important;margin-left:0!important;padding-top:0!important;padding-bottom:0!important;padding-right:0!important;padding-left:0!important; "> Cost Containment COVID-19 Fri, 29 Jul 2022 14:38:43 GMT drook@griffinbenefits.com (David Rook) https://www.griffinbenefits.com/blog/cost-mitigation-deffered-medical-care-group-health-plans 2022-07-29T14:38:43Z