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Showing posts from 2022

The Family and Medical Leave Act – Overview and Common Questions

The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor that allows eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons and requires employers to maintain employees’ health benefits during leave. Under this law, eligible employees may take leave for their own or family members’ serious health conditions, to bond with newborns or newly adopted children or for certain military family reasons. For full details on FMLA, check out our HR Compliance Overview . Below are answers to some common questions about FMLA. What employers are covered under FMLA? private-sector employers with 50 or more employees in at least 20 weeks of the current or preceding year; public agencies, including state, local and federal employers; and local education agencies, including elementary and secondary schools (public and private). What employees are eligible employees for FMLA? work for a covered employer; have worked for the employe

ESG retirement investment gets boost from DOL: What plan sponsors should consider

Plan sponsors considering environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in their investments received promising news with the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) latest update in November. Although ESG investing has received increased attention over the past few years, DOL has not been transparent in defining how qualified retirement programs should incorporate ESG-specific metrics into their selection process. Until recently, the prevailing tone of DOL’s messaging has been that ESG should be secondary to financial factors. The Biden administration had hinted at loosening restrictions on ESG investing that were implemented during the final days of the Trump administration and forgone enforcement of those restrictions in the interim. This latest development is a realization of those earlier signals. With the announcement of DOL’s new rule, plan sponsors can, but are not required to, include ESG factors in their investment searches. Notably, plan sponsors can include ESG factors in th

Benefits Breakdown Newsletter – December 2022

Trendiest benefits for 2023 Employers should consider offering their employees more than just a healthcare plan for 2023. Employers can offer holistic benefits, resources and perks to meet evolving worker needs shaped by the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a tight labor market and rising inflation. Employers are offering the following popular benefits: Hospital indemnity insurance — Healthcare affordability is top of mind for employers and employees alike. Hospital indemnity insurance can provide value to employees without raising an employer’s costs, making it a powerful tool for attracting and retaining top workers. Health savings account contribution — Many employees are feeling financially strained due to record-high inflation. Financial wellness benefits, such as health savings account contributions, can ease employees’ financial stress and make an organization more attractive to today’s workers. Family-friendly benefits — Many employers offer parental leave, adopti

Federal Family and Medical Leave Act Guidelines

The FMLA allows eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. In addition to providing eligible employees with an entitlement to leave, the FMLA requires employers to maintain employees’ health benefits during leave. Eligible employees must work at an employer subject to the FMLA. This includes: private-sector employers with 50 or more employees in at least 20 weeks of the current or preceding year; public agencies, including state, local and federal employers; and local education agencies, including elementary and secondary schools (public and private). To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months (does not need to be consecutive), have at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the 12-month period immediately preceding the leave and work within 75 miles of a location where the employer has 50 or more employees. For a full breakdown of all the FMLA provisions and requ

Is it time to evaluate your recordkeeper?

A competitive vendor search, whether through a full-scope request for proposal (RFP) or a more limited request for information (RFI), is an exercise that will have an immediate, lasting and potentially significant impact on retirement program participants. An RFP or RFI presents an opportunity to make meaningful changes to your organization’s retirement program to ensure it is competitive, up-to-date and aligns with your goals. In addition, recent retirement plan litigation has highlighted the importance of a competitive bid process: this widely-accepted best practice can also serve as a shield against claims of fiduciary dereliction. So, if a competitive search is prudent, when is the right time to get started? That answer may depend on how you answer the following questions: What are the goals of my organization’s retirement plan as it relates to my business and my employees? There are many benefits for an employer to start a retirement plan, including having a tax-advantaged vehicle

HBS Q3 Market Recap: Hawkish Fed behavior, declining asset prices

After a historically volatile first half of 2022, investors entered Q3 optimistic that inflation would subside and markets would begin to calm. However, when June’s surprise 9.1% inflation report was released just two weeks into the quarter, it became clear Q3 would continue the tumultuous year. Read our  Retirement Market Recap to get all the details on the Q3 market performance. If you have questions about  retirement plan services  or would like to begin talking to a retirement plan advisor, please get in touch online  or by calling 800.388.1963. HANYS Benefit Services is a marketing name of Healthcare Community Securities Corp., member FINRA/SIPC, and an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. Past performance is not indicative or a guarantee of future returns. The information in this piece is not a recommendation to invest no

Benefits Breakdown Newsletter - November 2022

Inflation’s Impact on 2023 Open Enrollment Many employees are feeling financial stress because of inflation. With open enrollment fast approaching, inflation could impact employees’ benefits choices. According to The Hartford’s Future of Benefits Pulse Survey , 40% of U.S. workers reported that they will cut back on the benefits they select during 2023’s open enrollment because of inflation. As a result, this year’s open enrollment may be more challenging than usual for employers. Employers can take steps now to help their employees better understand their benefits options and make informed decisions.  Employers can assist employees this open enrollment season by: using multiple communication channels; employing clear language and personalized messaging; highlighting the services that come with coverage. By communicating effectively, employers can help employees optimize their inflation-strained resources and make the best benefits selections for themselves and their families during th

HANYS Benefit Services appoints Bernard Gleeson director of employee benefit services

HANYS Benefit Services, a customized solutions provider for retirement and benefit needs based in Rensselaer, New York, welcomed Bernard A. Gleeson as director of employee benefit services. Gleeson will oversee the employee benefits division to meet overall strategic and financial client service goals. He will report to Noah Buck, president of HBS. Before joining the HBS team, Gleeson held roles with Gallagher, Aon and regional employee benefits firms. Throughout his career, Gleeson has served on various insurance carrier advisory boards and on his local school board for 13 years. He currently serves as the immediate past president of the local chapter of the National Association of Health Underwriters.  Gleeson brings more than 25 years of experience in the employee benefits consulting space. HBS is thrilled to welcome Gleeson to the team. Reach out to him at for all your employee benefit needs.

Employee Leave for Voting During Elections

As Election Day 2022 approaches on Tuesday, Nov. 8, employers may be curious about how to best prepare.  This article covers general information about state voting leave laws and employer considerations surrounding employee leave or time off for voting. Read on...

Attraction & Retention Newsletter - Q4 2022

Each quarter, the  Attraction and Retention Newsletter  offers statistics about the employment market, suggestions on securing top talent and insight to attract and retain workers. The fourth quarter edition explores: the competitive labor market as employers address high inflation; trending employee benefits that strengthen attraction and retention efforts; and university and college recruitment strategies. Current trends indicate that despite the inflow of more people entering the workforce, there is still a considerable shortage of workers for available positions. In addition, employee quits continue to trend higher than historical standards. While employers deal with the realities of high inflation rates, competitive compensation has become increasingly more important for workers. With market uncertainty though, many employers are exploring strategies to cut costs, including layoff options. Attraction and retention challenges remain and employers need to continue exploring strategi

COBRA Guidelines

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act is a federal law that gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods (usually 18 months) under certain circumstances. Most employers are required to provide an opportunity to continue group health coverage and are aware of their COBRA obligations with respect to their health insurance plans. Employers also need to understand how COBRA applies to health flexible spending accounts and health reimbursement accounts. Health savings accounts are not subject to COBRA coverage requirements, but an employer that offers a high-deductible health plan in connection with an HSA must comply with COBRA for the HDHP. To better understand COBRA and employer obligations, check out this chart of key provisions and requirements and this Compliance Overview for general information about the rules that apply to health flexible sp

Benefit Breakdown Newsletter – October 2022

  Trending employee benefits that strengthen attraction and retention efforts Attraction and retention are top of mind for employers in the wake of "The Great Reshuffle” — the mass movement of workers to jobs that prioritize their needs — and macro trends like the tight labor market. According to Zywave’s 2022 Attraction and Retention Benchmarking Overview, more than 75% of employers consider attraction and retention among the top five business challenges for their organizations. As a result, many employers are expanding and enhancing their benefits offerings to remain or become more desirable to employees. The benefits that may be helpful to employers’ attraction and retention efforts include: the availability of telemedicine; flexible work arrangements; competitive compensation; career development opportunities; and student loan assistance. Various labor market trends are driving employees to demand better benefits packages. There are many benefits employers can offer to attract

Are total compensation statements worth it?

No matter how generous your organization’s benefits package may be, employees may not be aware of or understand all the benefits offered. Helping them understand their total compensation package can improve morale and company loyalty. One way to inform employees is by providing a total compensation (benefit) statement. This statement highlights the monetary value of your benefits package, including those perks that may be overshadowed by traditional benefits. A typical total compensation statement may include information about salary; bonuses; commissions; stock options; employee stock purchase plan; retirement plan; 401(k) matching contributions; paid time off; health, life and disability coverage; wellness rewards (e.g., discounts and cash bonuses) and more. The employer’s initial time and monetary commitment to gather data for a total compensation statement is worthwhile because it can yield the following results: increased employee awareness around their benefits and the company’s

Inflation and open enrollment: How one is impacting the other

Inflation is causing many employees to feel financially strained. According to The Hartford’s Future of Benefits Pulse Survey , nearly half of all U.S. workers feel inflation is making it difficult for them to contribute to their employee benefits. Because of this, employees will consider options and determine how to best optimize their money spent. This year’s open enrollment may be more challenging for employers and benefits providers. According to Voya research, 70% of workers are looking for employers to help them enhance their benefits selections. This includes retirement savings, healthcare, health savings accounts and voluntary benefits (e.g., critical illness, hospital indemnity, disability income or accident insurance). This same research also revealed that due to inflation, employees will spend more time during this year’s open enrollment reviewing their benefits selections compared to years past. Read our Benefits Insights for tips on understanding how employees approach be

Benefits Breakdown Newsletter - September 2022

Early preparation is crucial for 2023 open enrollment The job market is still dealing with the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers are taking stock of their circumstances and considering which employment perks matter the most. Specifically, employees are more concerned now about their physical and mental health, financial security and work-life balance than before the pandemic. Many employers have enhanced benefits offerings to support their employees, but providing the right options for a specific workforce is vital. Beginning open enrollment efforts early in 2023 will enable employers to tailor benefits offerings and showcase all the perks they can provide for their employees. Employers can prepare early for open enrollment by: surveying employees to determine which benefits are essential to them; revamping benefits offerings to meet workforce needs; strategizing employee messaging; and effectively communicating benefits offerings. Early preparation can help show employee

Total Rewards to Recruit and Retain

Sustaining and recruiting high-quality talent in a tight labor market is a challenge. Doing it while controlling costs seems nearly impossible. Companies are becoming increasingly aware of the challenge and are looking for ways to improve recruitment and retention strategies. Total Rewards Concept For years, employers have produced total compensation packages that include detailed compensation and benefits. Incentives include base and variable pay, group insurance, paid time off, recognition programs, and training and career opportunities. These total rewards programs aim to provide each employee with monetary and non-monetary rewards to motivate them to maintain desired business performance. According to a survey of HR professionals from 22 different countries sponsored by Deloitte Consulting and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists, 35% believe that finding, motivating and retaining top talent is their biggest immediate challenge. To meet company and em

How the NYS Health Care Worker Bonus Program Impacts Employers

In August, the State Department of Health launched the Health Care Worker Bonus Program (HWB) aimed at rewarding and retaining frontline healthcare and mental hygiene workers. As with any new state program, many questions arise. Below, we answer the most frequently asked questions from our clients.   What is the New York State Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus Program? The HWB Program is a state-funded initiative that requires “qualified employers” to pay bonuses to “qualified employees” who earn less than $125,000 annually and remain in their positions for at least six months. Payments are based on the number of hours worked and duration of service within designated “vesting periods” for a maximum of $3,000 per employee.  Who is a “qualified employer?” Qualified employers include employers with at least one employee and that: bill for services under the Medicaid state plan; bill for services under a home or community-based services waiver; or have a provider agreement to bil

How Employers Can Address Social Determinants of Health

Expanding access to the healthcare system has traditionally been a key strategy to improve health outcomes. But we’ve recently seen a growing emphasis on a more holistic approach focusing on social factors that impact an individual’s health, well-being and quality of life. These factors, such as income, access to food, safe housing, education and job opportunities, are known as social determinants of health. Employers may be unaware of how social determinants of health impact employees. Understanding the broader barriers to health and well-being can help employers identify the social factors that may be impacting their workforce. This knowledge enables employers to more effectively and holistically improve employee health outcomes by offering benefits that best align with their employees’ needs and wants. Not only could this improve their employees’ health outcomes, but it may lead to a more productive and loyal workforce and lower overall healthcare expenses. Read our full Benefits In

The ins and outs of HRAs

Health reimbursement arrangements are employer-funded accounts that reimburse employees for qualified medical expenses they’ve paid for out-of-pocket. Employers set up an HRA, determine the amount of money available to each employee for a coverage period and establish which expenses the funds can be used for. But there’s a lot more to understand when it comes to HRAs , like: what are the benefits; who is eligible; how contributions and distributions are made; and what medical expenses are eligible? Download our recent Know Your Benefits articles Understanding an HRA and Examples of Eligible Expenses to get all the answers and more. For more information about  employee benefits, our services and products , contact HBS by  email  or call 800.388.1963. These Know Your Benefits articles are provided by HANYS Benefit Services and are to be used for informational use only and should not be construed as professional advice. © 2022 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

Why you need an HRA

  What are HRAs? Health reimbursement arrangements are employer-funded programs that reimburse employees for certain medical expenses. Typically, an employer can only offer an HRA to employees with a group health plan, often a high-deductible health plan. Your employer determines the amount of money available in the HRA, which is typically an amount less than your annual health plan deductible. Why an HRA? HRAs provide a tax-free, employer-funded amount of money for healthcare expenses. These arrangements are a great way to pay for out-of-pocket qualified medical expenses while working to meet your plan deductible. There are many advantages to HRAs including: tax savings; out-of-pocket expense reduction; and accrued balance. How do HRAs work? You can use your HRA funds to get reimbursed for your own eligible medical expenses, as well as your spouse’s and dependents’ eligible medical expenses. Eligible medical expenses are unreimbursed medical care expenses, as defined under Section 213

Benefits Breakdown Newsletter - August 2022

Combating Rising Benefits Costs During Periods of High Inflation The U.S. inflation rate has increased by 9.1% over the last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This has led to significant price increases across various consumer goods and employee benefits such as health insurance. In fact, health insurance costs have already risen for one-third of U.S. employees in the last year, according to a report from the Employee Benefit Research Institute. This increase in costs presents challenges for employers facing a difficult hiring market. Luckily, employers may be able to mitigate increasing benefits costs without shifting the burden to employees, thus remaining attractive to current and prospective employees. Consider the following strategies: Eliminate underutilized benefits and reallocate resources toward more expensive benefits. Offer a wellness program or similar benefits to promote and achieve a healthy workforce.  Encourage telemedicine benefits to help employees

HBS Q2 Market Recap: More inflation, more uncertainty

Asset prices faced substantial pressure in the second quarter as investors began to feel the pain of high inflation and hawkish monetary policy. Within the US, the S&P 500 fell 16.60% in Q2 and finished down 19.96% year to date. Inflation, which was previously expected to peak in the spring, unexpectedly rose in May. The Federal Reserve appears to be dedicated to its plan to lower inflation and restore price stability by raising interest rates to levels not seen in almost 30 years. Inflation continues to pressure global economies, leading to declines in asset prices worldwide. While the second quarter was undoubtedly difficult, investors must remember the importance of long-term investing and avoid making rash decisions, even amid extreme market volatility. Read the  Retirement Market Recap  to learn more about the Q2 market performance. If you have questions about  retirement plan services or would like to begin talking to a retirement plan advisor, please get in touch by  email

Q3 Attraction & Retention Newsletter

  Each quarter, the Attraction and Retention Newsletter offers statistics about the employment market, suggestions on securing top talent and insight to attract and retain workers. The third quarter edition explores: employee quits remain high while job growth continues; attracting and retaining employees during the great reshuffle; and developing an employee retention strategy. Current trends indicate that while workers are available, the demand for talent remains high and employers continue to face challenges retaining employees. Many factors influence the high quit rate, including the ongoing pandemic, inflation and a strong market for candidates. While the labor market remains competitive, experts largely expect talent challenges to continue. As such, employers should monitor employment trends to stay informed on the evolving market. Download your copy of the newsletter today to stay up to date. For more information about  employee benefits, our services and products , contact H

988: America’s first three-digit mental health crisis line

On July 16, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline launched nationwide. This three-digit dialing code, similar to 911 for medical emergencies, is available for people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis to be connected immediately to trained counselors who will listen, provide support and connect them to resources if necessary. This new, easy-to-remember dialing code replaces the previous, 10-digit number known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among preteens and adults aged 25 to 34, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Lifeline is a direct connection to compassionate, accessible care for anyone experiencing mental health-related distress and could provide immediate support during someone’s darkest hour. Find out more about the new suicide and crisis lifeline, safety tips to beat the heat and immunization awareness in this month’s Live Well, Work Well Newsletter . For more information about  employee

Everything You Need to Know About Using Health Savings Accounts

A health savings account can help pay for eligible medical expenses not covered by an insurance plan, including the deductible, coinsurance and even health insurance premiums in some cases. HSAs can be funded with your tax-exempt dollars, by your employer, by a family member or by anyone else on your behalf. When it comes to using an HSA, many questions arise, such as: What expenses are eligible for tax-free reimbursement from my HSA? Are dental and vision care qualified medical expenses under an HSA? What medical expenses are not eligible for tax-free reimbursement from my HSA? Get the answers to these questions and more in two Know Your Benefits articles: Frequently Asked Questions About Using HSAs and Understanding a Health Savings Account .   For more information about  employee benefits, our services and products , contact HANYS Benefit Services by email  or call 800.388.1963. These Know Your Benefits articles are provided by HANYS Benefit Services and are to be used for inform

Benefits Breakdown Newsletter - July 2022

Containing Costs of Chronic Health Conditions Chronic conditions are health conditions that require ongoing management over an extended period of time. They are the leading drivers of the nation’s $4.1 trillion in annual health care costs. Thus, they are significant sources of financial stress for employers and employees alike. According to the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, employer health care coverage for an employee with a chronic condition is, on average, five times higher than coverage for those without a chronic disease. The most common chronic conditions affecting the workforce today include cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Fortunately, employers can help combat chronic conditions; this could, in turn, reduce your health care costs and yield a healthier workforce. Consider the following strategies: Focus on prevention by making preventive care affordable through medical benefits and encouraging the use of such critical care. Be accommodating and offer arrange

HBS Special Edition Market Recap: The state of equity and bond markets

In mid-June as the end of the second quarter approached, the S&P 500 entered a bear market -- a decline of 20% or more from a recent peak. The latest catalyst for the equity market's decline was a higher-than-expected inflation figure, released June 10, showing an 8.6% increase in the consumer price index from May 2021 to May 2022.  Simultaneously, the bond market declined by approximately 11.5% year-to-date through June 17. The rare, simultaneous declines in equity and bond markets have created a challenging environment for investors. Read the  Retirement Market Recap  to learn more about the mid-year market states. If you have any questions about  retirement plan services , or would like to begin talking to a retirement plan advisor, please get in touch by  email  or by calling (800) 388-1963. HANYS Benefit Services is a marketing name of Healthcare Community Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC, and an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. This material has been prepared f

HANYS Benefit Services names Noah Buck president

Buck brings 20 years of retirement and benefits industry experience to leadership role of boutique advisory agency  Rensselaer, NY July 14, 2022— HANYS Benefit Services announced today Noah Buck has been appointed president. Buck steps into the advisory agency’s leadership role at a time when organizations are seeking expert retirement and employee benefits guidance for fiduciary governance and employee engagement. With HBS since 2019, Buck had most recently served as interim president and was previously vice president of client relationship management. Before joining HBS, Buck was a principal in Milliman’s employee benefits practice. He earned a Bachelor of Science in management science and information systems from Penn State University and a Master of Business Administration from SUNY Albany. "I’m honored to be leading a team that is passionate about making sure our clients are meeting their organization’s and employees’ needs,” said Buck. “A focused approach to retirement and

Form 5500 Is Due by August 1 for Calendar Year Plans

Employers that are subject to ERISA and operate on a calendar year basis must file their annual reports ( Forms 5500 ) for 2021 with the Department of Labor (DOL) by  August 1, 2022 . An employer may extend this deadline by two and one-half months (until October 17, 2022) by filing IRS Form 5558 by August 1, 2022.  An employer must file a Form 5500 for each separate employee benefit plan that it maintains, unless a filing exemption applies. Employers can combine different welfare benefits under a single plan to simplify their Form 5500 reporting obligation.  Small welfare benefit plans (fewer than 100 covered participants) that are unfunded or fully insured (or a combination of unfunded and insured) are exempt from the Form 5500 filing requirement.  Small plans (fewer than 100 participants) that do not qualify for a filing exemption may be able to use a simplified form (Form 5500-SF “Short Form Annual Return/Report of Small Employee Benefit Plan”) for the annual reporting requirement