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Apr 14, 2014 by Kelley M. Butler

IRS rules retroactivity for same-sex spouse benefits to June 2013

In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. Now, a new IRS ruling states that benefits administrators will be able to file past claims and move on activity that has been delayed for months as sponsors waited for regulatory action.

The rules are retroactive to June 26, 2013, the date of the Supreme Court decision. Retirement plans must reflect these changes by December 31, 2014.

Plan sponsors may potentially be affected by “qualified joint and survivor annuities; assignment of funds through qualified domestic relations orders to spouses and former spouses as alternate payees; and minimum distribution rules for surviving spouses,” according to a Smart HR Manager blog post.

Classifying student athletes as employees may stir up problems with ACA

A recent National Labor Relations Board decision requires large employers to offer coverage to “all full-time workers,” meaning 95% of employees working 30+ hours per week. In addition, NLRB ruled just weeks ago that college football players with athletic scholarships have the right to organize their own union.

What do the collective rulings mean for employers and health care reform?

In a report for Employee Benefit News, benefits attorney Ann Caresani writes, “Given the high stakes involved with a failure to satisfy the 95% test, employers need to consider their margin for error, and give serious consideration to the circumstances involving anyone who is performing services but is not being treated as an employee.”

This week’s hidden gem: Workplace flexibility remains a pipe dream for most

A study from the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College shows that many rank-and-file employees don’t have wide access to workplace flexibility.

While flexibility is generally offered to more senior employees, these types of programs haven’t evolved much over recent years, concludes a report for Human Resource Executive Online.

Families and Work Institute President and Co-Founder Ellen Galinsky agrees that “we have to change from thinking about this as a perk to advantaged employees to seeing is as a tool you use to create and maintain that very productive and engaged workforce,” noting that flexible work “should not be an entitlement, but a responsibility.”

Apr 11, 2014 by Jennifer Benz
In her latest column for Workforce magazine, our editorial director Kelley Butler makes the case that “only savvy employers with a commitment to thoughtful, clear and open communication will be able to launch and maintain a successful wellness program.” Neglect communications at your own peril,...
Apr 07, 2014 by Kelley M. Butler
Personalized plan recommendations: The next big thing in the HIX market? Stride Health is one of several new companies popping up to help consumers buy health insurance through the exchange market. By using filters such as age, gender and illness, the website projects users’ annual health care...
Apr 02, 2014 by Jennifer Benz
Today marks the 10th annual celebration of National Employee Benefits Day. Over the last decade—and certainly since I started working in employee benefits in 1999—a lot has changed. Most notably, in that short time, employers have moved almost completely away from paternalistic approaches in...
Mar 31, 2014 by Kelley M. Butler
How HSAs can help curb the ‘Cadillac’ tax The year 2018 may seem distant today, but the Affordable Care Act’s infamous ‘Cadillac tax’ is looming on the horizon. In a recent blog post for Employee Benefit News, Fidelity VP Jeff Munn writes that health savings accounts might be a sound strategy for...
Mar 27, 2014 by Jennifer Benz
When most people think of Las Vegas, they think slot machines, extravagant entertainment and hasty decisions. But the people that gathered in the meeting rooms at Caesar’s Palace last week thoughtfully discussed decisions with far-reaching consequences. At the second annual Human Resource Executive...
Mar 17, 2014 by Kelley M. Butler
How to make $1 million last through retirement According to Fidelity, the keys to making $1 million last all the way through retirement—assuming employees can save that much—is knowing when and whether to follow the 4% rule, and having the right investment mix. Other retirement planning nuggets...
Mar 13, 2014 by Katie White
According to the February Kaiser Health Policy News Index, more people last month followed news about the Affordable Care Act than the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Two of the most closely followed stories in February were around the announcement that some employers will have an extra year to...
Mar 11, 2014 by Kelley M. Butler
Obama allows two-year extension for canceled health plans under ACA The Obama administration has allowed individuals whose plans were terminated under the Affordable Care Act to be renewed for two years rather than one, according to a news report from Crain’s. This additional extension on health...
Mar 03, 2014 by Kelley M. Butler
Pop the big questions about private health exchanges Private health exchanges (PHEs) are steadily gaining attention from employers, as they may relieve financial and administrative stress imposed by the Accountable Care Act. A new briefing paper from Milliman offers up 16 must-ask questions for...
Feb 28, 2014 by Jennifer Benz
Spring is almost here, which means renewal and rebirth—in nature and in benefits. Springtime is when employers generally reevaluate current group insurance and other vendor contracts in time for fall enrollment. As you prepare to consider changes to your health and wellness offerings, here are 5...