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The State of the Union Address and What It Means For Employee Benefits

Jeff Griffin

Last week, President Donald Trump delivered the 2019 State of the Union Address (SOTU). The SOTU is an annual message delivered by the president to a joint session of Congress at the beginning of each year.

At this year’s SOTU, President Trump discussed issues that have the potential to impact the employee benefits industry, as well as employers offering healthcare and benefits to their employees. The issues he discussed included pre-existing conditions, lower prescription drug prices, and nationwide paid family leave.

While the SOTU is just a speech, often times packed with lofty aspirations, it does sometimes lead to policy. Here is a recap of what was addressed:

Pre-existing Condition Protection

In a departure from 2018 Department of Justice actions, President Trump announced in the address that people who have pre-existing conditions should receive protections. If the administration holds true to this goal, they will likely find cross-aisle support, as pre-existing condition patient protection was a key campaign issue in the midterm elections.

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Topics: Paid Time Off (PTO), Legislation, Prescription Drugs, Pre-Existing Conditions

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Employee Benefits in 2019: Trends in Health Insurance, Time Off and More

Jeff Griffin

The past year’s tight labor market has made finding new hires more challenging than usual for employers, and it looks like the trend will continue throughout much of 2019. In order to attract and retain qualified talent, employers aren’t merely offering competitive salaries; they’re also revising their benefits packages, which many employees heavily scrutinize when entertaining job offers. As we enter 2019, here are some of the employee benefits trends that will shape overall compensation in the coming year.

Health Insurance: Promoting Services While Mitigating High-Cost Claims 
 

Health insurance remains the most trying employee benefit for employers to manage (and not only because many are required to offer it). Health insurance has always required a balancing act between giving employees valuable coverage and managing company costs.

In 2019, employers are approaching this balancing act by promoting convenient and high-level service while mitigating the costs associated with major claims (the top 1 percent of which use more resources than the bottom 75 percent of policyholders). Employers are accomplishing this via five methods:

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Topics: Paid Time Off (PTO), Education, HSAs, Mental Health

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FMLA Rules and Regulations: What is Required of Employers?

Jeff Griffin

At some point or another, every human resources employee helps to facilitate a leave of absence under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). HR personnel can probably recite FMLA regulations in their sleep, but the average employee is pretty much out of touch with what the law entitles them to, and quite often they don't realize what’s actually required of their employers.

FMLA rules are designed to protect both the employer and the employee. From an employee’s perspective, they’re able to take necessary medical leave without fear of losing their job. For employers, it helps them work toward the goal of true, equal opportunity employment for both men and women.

To help make your life as an HR professional just a little bit easier, we’ve put this handy guide of FMLA rules and regulations together for you — including some that are specific to our home state of Arizona's FMLA laws. Feel free to download this additional resource guide to include it in your employee handbook or to email to employees who are inquiring about FMLA guidelines.

About the Family Medical Leave Act

The Family Medical Leave Act took nearly a decade to become law, with its first draft being written in 1984 by the Women’s Legal Defense Fund. It was introduced every year from then until 1993, and was even passed by Congress in 1991 and then again in 1992, but was vetoed both times by President George H. Bush. Congress passed the legislation once more in 1993, which President Bill Clinton signed into law just 16 days after taking office.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Compliance, Company Culture, Paid Time Off (PTO)

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5 Ways to Encourage Employees to Enjoy Their Paid Time Off Over the July 4th Holiday

David Rook

Many employees feel like they have to check-in with work even when they’re supposed to be enjoying paid time off. More often than not, this is a cultural issue within a company. Supervisors might be checking-in and sending emails in the evening or on weekends. This leads their direct reports to believe they need to respond immediately, and they may even start adopting these behaviors themselves. 

Yet, research has shown time and time again that workers need frequent breaks and unfortunately, Americans leave a lot of that paid time off on the table every year. It might seem like workers would be more productive if they aren’t using all their vacation time, but in reality, skipping our vacations actually makes us less productive. To keep employees operating in top shape, we need to encourage them to enjoy their downtime — and perhaps it’s fitting to begin with the July 4th holiday. Here are 5 ways to encourage employees to enjoy their independence...and their paid time off this weekend.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Company Culture, Paid Time Off (PTO), Employee Retention

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Sample Policies for Arizona's New Paid Sick Leave Law

Jeff Griffin

In the November 2016 general election, Arizona voters passed Proposition 206, which instituted an incremental increase in the state’s minimum wage, as well as mandated paid sick leave for all employees — not just full-time, but part-time, temporary, and seasonal workers as well. All HR professionals and business owners should be apprised to the changes this law will bring and what it means for themselves and their employees.

To assist with complying with the new law, we're providing you with sample paid sick leave policies, not only for employers with over 15 employees, but also for employers with under 15 employees. Feel fee to use these new sample policies in posters, updated employee handbooks, and wherever else you post your HR policies. Of course as always, you should consult with your legal council and benefits advisor to ensure accuracy and applicability to your business,*

Here's a recap of the new law:

Proposition 206: Paid Sick Leave

According to the new law, the paid sick leave portion of this policy will go into effect on July 1, 2017 (the increase in minimum wage began on January 1). Prop 206 requires that employers with 15 or more employees provide at least 40 hours of paid sick leave per year to every employee. This amounts to one week of paid sick leave per year, per employee, assuming an eight-hour work day.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Paid Time Off (PTO), Legislation, Arizona

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The Birth of Labor Day (Pun Intended)

David Rook

The Birth of Labor Day (Pun Intended)

As experts in the field of employee benefits, it seems only fitting that we share with the curious the origins of Labor Day, most especially as we enter this holiday weekend. Labor Day is, after all, a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers.

We have President Grover Cleveland to thank for the getting the first Monday of September as a holiday every year. Several factions lobbied for the holiday to be on May 1st, to link up with International Worker’s Day, which is celebrated in over 80 countries worldwide. But for President Cleveland, May 1st was too close to the date of Chicago’s Haymarket Massacre, which occurred on May 4th, 1886.

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Topics: Paid Time Off (PTO), Education

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Bend Time To Create Unique Employee Benefits

David Rook

In a perfect world, personal life and work-related responsibilities are in absolute harmony. There's no stress, no job dissatisfaction, and no reduced productivity. In a perfect world, when we list our priorities, we give equal weight to home and work, and our scale is in balance.

The savvy employer recognizes that more often than not, time is more important than money to employees. The ability to choose a work schedule, telecommute, or cut back on hours, without fear of monetary loss or employer repercussion, is a major perk. Having the opportunity to be flexible results in less stress for your employees, which results in higher productivity, less turnover, and an overall happier workplace.

Here are a few ways you can use the gift of time creatively to make your workers’ lives easier.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Cost Containment, Paid Time Off (PTO)

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The Origins of Labor Day

David Rook

The Origins of Labor Day

As experts in the field of employee benefits, it seems only fitting that we share with the curious the origins of Labor Day, most especially as we enter this holiday weekend. Labor Day is, after all, a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers.

We have President Grover Cleveland to thank for the getting the first Monday of September as a holiday every year. Several factions lobbied for the holiday to be on May 1st, to link up with International Worker’s Day, which is celebrated in over 80 countries worldwide. But for President Cleveland, May 1st was too close to the date of Chicago’s Haymarket Massacre, which occurred on May 4th, 1886.

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Topics: Paid Time Off (PTO), Education

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Summer Blog Series (Part 4): Notable PTO Trends and Novel Approaches

David Rook

Summer Blog Series (Part 4):

Notable PTO Trends and Novel Approaches

In previous posts in our Summer Blog Series, we’ve discussed the benefits of PTO, the advantages of using PTO automation to handle the administrative function, and common PTO policies, procedures and FAQs. For this final installment, we’ll focus on notable PTO trends and novel approaches some companies are experimenting with today.

PTO Trends:

Bank Systems on the Rise

According to a 2014 study released by WorldatWork, a non-profit research association, 41 percent of organizations participating in the study used bank-style PTO systems, while 56 percent still used traditional systems of paid leave for their employees. (PTO banks offer a combined “bucket” of available paid days off which can be used for a variety of reasons.) This approach differs considerably from the better-known system of assigning a pre-set number of days each year in separate categories like vacation, sick leave, bereavement leave, and personal days.

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Topics: Company Culture, Paid Time Off (PTO)

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Summer Blog Series (Part 3): PTO Policies, Procedures and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

David Rook

Summer Blog Series (Part 3):

Paid Time Off - PTO Policies, Procedures and FAQs

The summer months typically bring about a unique set of attendance issues, from abnormally high absenteeism rates to dealing with three major holidays to the administrative burdens of an onslaught of time off requests.

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about paid holidays and other 
PTO to help your organization navigate these challenges and create a competitive and compliant PTO plan.

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Topics: Company Culture, Paid Time Off (PTO)

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