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Deadline Fast Approaching to Release Employee Compensation Information to EEOC

Jeff Griffin

Companies across the U.S. are chasing a Monday deadline to provide the federal government with full disclosures of how they compensate workers of all genders, races and ethnicities. The data collection exercise, the largest and most detailed ever, is part of an effort by the government to close gaps in earnings.

Subject to the requirement are the more than 70,000 private U.S. companies with more than 100 workers. Collectively these companies employ more than 54 million American workers. These firms must submit their compensation information to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by September 30th.

This deadline comes almost two years after the rule, issued under the Obama administration, was originally scheduled to go into effect. In 2017 the Trump administration pumped the breaks on the rollout of the new rule, arguing that the collection and aggregation of such in-depth salary information was a burden on companies. (Advocacy groups sued the EEOC to get the pay-reporting requirement reinstated.)

EEOC officials say that this detailed compensation data, which will span virtually every industry and region of the county, will help them quickly ascertain which discrimination complaints deserve closer scrutiny, from the tens of thousands that are filed with the EEOC annually. (They received over 75,000 in 2018 alone.)

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Topics: Compliance, Risk Management, Equality

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Is it Time to Fire Your Employee Benefits Broker

Jeff Griffin



Many companies stick with their employee benefits broker for years on end, not giving too much thought to whether a change is warranted. HR directors always have long to-do lists full of time-sensitive issues, so finding a new broker is typically the last thing on their minds — except maybe during contract renewal season if the news isn’t good (and it never seems to be with health insurance these days).

The issue here is that there is a point when it’s time to fire your broker, but recognizing it when the time comes is difficult because you have a million things on your mind and far more pressing matters at hand.

However, there are some definite signs it’s time to find a new employee benefits broker and it’s important to keep an eye out for them. Here are some of the big ones.

Your Broker isn't Helping You Contain Costs Year-Round

Employee benefits brokers should not only be reaching out when it comes time for your annual renewal. Top-notch benefits consultants are working with you year-round to make sure you’re taking every possible step to keep your benefits costs contained.

True cost containment strategy requires constant effort in the form of chronic condition identification and management, medication adherence, large-scale claim intervention, consistent execution of a sound wellness program, financial oversight, and diligent carrier reconciliations.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Compliance, Education, Disruption, Strategy

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Is Discussing Politics In The Workplace Ever OK?

David Rook

Sex, politics, and religion. That was the list of topics I was taught when growing up to never discuss when we had guests over for dinner. Those were pretty much the ground rules Google set-out to establish last month when it issued new guidelines limiting employee discussion of politics in the workplace.

Google claimed their guidelines were intended to protect a “productive work environment” by corralling what has already become very heated water cooler talk in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. Nevertheless, late last week the National Labor Relations Board ordered Google to stand down. In its ruling, it instructed Google to affirm employees’ rights to express their views, within the workplace environment, on political and workplace issues.

The settlement was born less out of Google’s issuance of new guidelines but rather as a result of recent complaints from conservative employees who claim they were fired due to their political views.

According to a recent New York Times article, accusations of political bias at major tech companies has become a powerful rallying cry among conservatives. This includes accusations by President Trump that engineers in Silicon Valley intentionally skewed the way their systems display content online to reflect liberal positions. For their part, major technology companies deny these accusations of bias.

To be fair, Google’s new guidelines didn’t forbid discussing politics at work, but they did require managers to address conversations that became disruptive. The updated guidelines were an attempt to dial back what has historically been the company’s wide open discourse. In addition to politics, Google also advised employees to avoid name-calling, including making blanket statements about groups or categories of people.

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Topics: Compliance, Company Culture, Risk Management, Employee Productivity

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Employee Benefits Broker: The Value for Your Business

David Rook








Like all business owners, you’re trying to navigate the murky waters of health insurance and other employee benefits. It’s time-consuming, frustrating, and ultimately not a subject you're well- versed in.

In an effort to help, someone recently suggested you use an employee benefits broker. You’re not even sure what they do and you don’t want to spend extra money on them. You've also heard of other options, such as PEOs, payroll vendors, HR software platforms and the SHOP exchange. How do you sort through all of these options and confidently make the right decision?

We're admittedly a little bias on the topic, but we highly recommend you start this process by simply talking to a benefits broker. If you don't know any (and even if you do), gather a few recommendations from your peers within other organizations. Just make sure you initiate your consultation with a trusted broker who is well regarded in the industry and your market. A broker with a solid reputation will help you quickly assess all of your options and will, in all likelihood, be completely upfront with you in the event they aren't your best option.


If requesting proposals from employee benefits brokers, it's important to inquire about specific capabilities of prospect organizations, most especially as they relate to your primary needs.  Download our free guide for 100+ sample questions and scoring template.



Once you decide to move forward with an employee benefits broker, they'll guide you through sound analytical and strategic reasoning for the benefit decisions you are making for your workforce.  Employee benefit brokers are far more affordable than you might think and good ones can be invaluable to a business, paying for themselves many times over in the savings they generate for you. Brokers are especially helpful to small businesses with skeleton HR departments but are equally as useful to well-staffed operations. 

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Topics: Employee Benefits, employee benefits broker

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Employee Benefit Implications for An Upcoming Demographic Milestone

Jeff Griffin

We are about to witness an important change in workforce demographics – one that has implications for virtually every company recruiting college-educated adults.

Women, you see, are about to become the majority of the college-educated workforce in this country. Back in 2007, women surpassed men as the majority of college-educated adults in the United States, but it’s taken 12 years for this change to reach the labor force.

Responding to this change, savvy companies are striving to become more attractive to female job candidates. Some of these new practices include the ways in which companies are redrafting job descriptions with more gender-neutral language, as well as changes companies are making to compensation and culture.

Changes to employee benefits programs are even more widespread, and include;

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Topics: Company Culture, Retention, trends, Recruitment, Women

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What is a Limited Purpose FSA? (And Should You Offer One?)

Jeff Griffin

With the rising cost of health insurance, many consumers are opting for high deductible health plans (HDHPs) to keep their medical premiums affordable, especially when they’re relatively young, comparatively healthy, and don't spend much of their budget each year visiting a doctor. However, many people enrolled in qualified HDHPs are disappointed to learn they can no longer, by law, participate in a traditional flexible spending account (FSA). 

The nature of how these plans are designed leaves some wondering how they’ll cover all the expenses incurred prior to reaching their deductible, which has led to the rise of health savings accounts (HSAs) and limited purpose flexible spending accounts (LPFSAs).

Only those enrolled in qualified HDHPs are eligible to open an HSA and reap the tax benefits, but many are unaware that they’re also eligible to open a limited purpose FSA (providing their employer offers one), which frees up the money in their HSA for future use — even retirement. 

What Is a Limited Purpose FSA?

HSAs are usually a major selling point of HDHPs. They allow participants to set aside a portion of their income from each paycheck in order to pay for qualifying healthcare expenses. Limited purpose FSAs are like HSAs in that participants can contribute a specific amount from each paycheck. LPFSAs are like traditional FSAs in that they make funds available immediately, rather than forcing you to wait until enough money has accumulated to access the money you need for necessary vision and dental care (whereas HSAs require funds to be in the account before reimbursement can occur).  

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Topics: HSAs, Consumer Driven Healthcare, High Deductible Health Plans, Savings Plans

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Top CEOs Tell Companies To Invest In Their Employees

Jeff Griffin

Employees, customers, suppliers, and even community neighbors all moved in front of shareholders yesterday as the primary audiences publicly held companies should utmost serve in the future.

That’s according to a statement released by the Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs representing 200 corporations around the country. This new vision recasts the prime directive of corporations from first and foremost serving shareholders (e.g. maximizing profits) to serving these new audiences.

The new mission suggests that corporations should; invest in employees, deliver value to customers, deal ethically with suppliers, and support outside communities. “Shareholders ride the caboose in this new code of corporate purpose,” said a dissenting opinion piece in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.

Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase and chairman of Business Roundtable, said yesterday, “Major employers are investing in their workers and communities because they know it is the only way to be successful over the long term. These modernized principles reflect the business community’s unwavering commitment to continue to push for an economy that serves all Americans.”

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Topics: Company Culture, CEO

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The Upside of Auto-Enrolling Your Workforce in Disability Insurance

Jeff Griffin

New this year, per the U.S. Department of Labor, is the ability for employers nationwide to auto-enroll employees in disability insurance coverages for ERISA-covered plans.

The implications of this decision are far reaching and merit serious consideration by employers offering disability benefits, which are designed to prevent income disruption in the event of a qualifying disability. (As with other auto-enrollment options such as 401(k) contributions, employees retain the opportunity to opt-out if they choose not to take the coverage.)

For those employers who don’t yet offer disability coverage, we strongly encourage you to read our blog post from earlier this year on why disability insurance is one of the most valuable benefits you can offer.

The Gap Between Interest and Action

At present, one in four 20-year-olds in the workforce can expect to be out of work for at least a year before they reach retirement, due to a disabling condition - that’s according to probability tables developed by the Social Security Administration.

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Topics: Enrollment, Behavioral Psychology, Long-Term Disability, Short-Term Disability

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Preventive Care Coverage Improves For High Deductible Health Plans

Jeff Griffin

The IRS has added care for a range of chronic conditions to the list of preventive care benefits that can be provided by a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) without a deductible.

This expansion of preventive care services is in response to an executive order signed on June 27 by President Trump. The order, designed to improve price and quality transparency in health care, directed the Treasury Department and IRS to improve the attractability of HSA-compatible HDHPs which cover low-cost preventive care, before the deductible.

The IRS issued Notice 2019-45 in response to this executive order. With this order now in place, it now classifies certain medical care services and items, including prescription drugs for chronic conditions, as preventive care for individuals with certain chronic conditions. 

Employers with HDHPs should review their plan documents and consult with their benefits broker, carriers and benefit administrators to determine how their plans might cover these new preventive care benefits on a go-forward basis. 

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Topics: Cost Containment, Education, HSAs, High Deductible Health Plans

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Common Pitfalls To Avoid With Your High Deductible Health Plan

Jeff Griffin

Employers looking to decrease their healthcare costs often rely on workforce adoption of High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs), which offer both employers and employees lower premiums. Unfortunately, this strategy doesn’t always work out if enrollment in HDHPs (assuming employees are given a choice) fall short of forecasts.

Rightly or wrongly, HDHPs have been saddled with some baggage. Many people have difficulty making the cognitive leap from traditional healthcare plans to HDHPs for a variety of reasons; in part because change is generally difficult for people, but sometimes, it’s simply a fear of the unknown and a matter of not understanding how they work.

While we certainly aren’t advocating that HDHPs are suitable for everyone, they’re a great fit for some — especially those who are otherwise overpaying for health insurance, meaning that they’re paying high premiums, but rarely using their plans.

Here are some common pitfalls to avoid when designing and marketing a high deductible health plan and suggestions on how to avoid them.

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Topics: Cost Containment, Education, HSAs, High Deductible Health Plans

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