"benefits" Blog Tag

Coronavirus – Jaws or Y2K?

March 12th, 2020


Coronavirus – Jaws or Y2K*?

For you the employer, for you the HR Director, for you the person in charge of paid leave and benefits and payroll and who everyone turns to when no one knows what to do: is COVID-19 much ado about nothing or will you need a bigger boat?

If you answered bigger boat, below is a list of articles, blogs, podcasts, briefings and audio files from our authors, Chambers of Commerce we work with, the Centers for Disease Control, the EPA, recognized experts in HR and others.

Click the state name for material specific to you. The state is followed by the author(s) of the resources and/or contact in case you have a pressing legal need.

*For those of you around for the changing of the millennia, Y2K was a synonym for the upcoming computer apocalypse, which would in turn cause the meltdown of the workplace as we knew it. Until it was the new millennia. And then it wasn't an apocalypse or a meltdown.

For those of you around in 1975, there was this shark, a big shark, but you figured Robert Shaw and Roy Scheider (and Richard Dreyfuss to a lesser extent) could handle it. Until Roy saw the shark.

Ten steps for employers to consider during the coronavirus outbreak

March 10th, 2020

Kathy Speaker MacNett at SkarlatosZonarich

Employers are asking what measures should be implemented in response to the Coronavirus – COVID-19 outbreak.  Some are even questioning if they need a separate Coronavirus policy for their employees. Consider instead utilizing the employment laws and established Human Resources tools already in place, and supplementing with additional policies applicable to this crisis and future health care crises, only as needed.

The Coronavirus has caused some 3,800 deaths as of this writing; and continues to spread causing wide-spread concern inside and outside of the workplace.  Employers can and should implement positive steps, without causing panic. 

Kathy Speaker MacNett recommends consideration of the following ten steps:

OH: What your workplace can do right now to prepare for COVID-19

March 9th, 2020

Michael Karst at Kastner Westman & Wilkins

Name three things you can do right now to prepare for COVID-19.

Michael Karst has four, so just go ahead and use his list.

NJ: Weed, opioids, workers' comp – who pays?

February 24th, 2020

Alexander Castelli at Shawe Rosenthal

Federal crime: to manufacture, posses or distribute marijuana.

New Jersey's Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical [Marijuana] Cannabis Act: ". . . the purpose of this act is to protect from arrest, prosecution, property forfeiture, and criminal and other penalties, those patients who use [marijuana] cannabis to alleviate suffering from [debilitating] qualifying medical conditions, as well as their [physicians] health care practitioners, [primary] designated caregivers, institutional caregivers, and those who are authorized to produce [marijuana] cannabis for medical purposes."

Who pays: the insurance company (for the marijuana), the employer (for breaking a law), the employee (with pain and an opioid addiction)?

Alexander Castelli lays out the background, the court's decision and the court's reasoning.

NJ Independent contractors with benefits

October 30th, 2019

Salvador Simao at FordHarrison

You know about friends with benefits (you do know about friends with benefits, right?).

And married, jobs, pets and desserts with benefits

New Jersey has decided that it may be time to up the ante and include independent contractors in the benefits gig. Yep, there is a bill in the legislature that plans to do just that.

Benefit from Salvadore SImao's experience as a former DOL attorney and his breakdown of what to expect and why from this "crackdown" on the use of independent contractors.


Life Insurance as an employer-provided benefit

January 13th, 2020

Ellisa H. Culp, Eric D. Penkert, Grace H. Ristuccia, Thomas M. Christina

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Life insurance is among the most common employer-provided benefits and there are a few options that employers have: Employers may either: structure their life insurance plans to pay 100% of the cost of the life insurance (a non-contributory arra...

Regulation of Group Health Plans

January 14th, 2020

Ellisa H. Culp, Eric D. Penkert, Grace H. Ristuccia, Thomas M. Christina

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Most group health plans sponsored by employers in the private sector -- other than certain health savings accounts (HSAs) -- are considered employee welfare benefit plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). If a group health plan (or any other welfare benefit plan) is governed by ERISA, a number of ERISA’s provis...

PEO – back-office balm or toothpaste dispersant?

September 13th, 2019

Alaina Riley at Focus OneSource

A PEO is a back-office balm if you have 5-99 employees and want to offer Fortune 500 benefits, save time and off-load back-office administrative tasks.

PEO can be in your toothpaste too.

Alaina Riley at Focus OneSource, an Iowa ABI member, explains the PEO that eliminates back-office admin tasks.

SNL kind of explains that something can be two things, like a floor wax AND a dessert topping,

Employee benefits law

August 20th, 2019

Ellisa H. Culp, Eric D. Penkert, Thomas M. Christina at Ogletree Deakins

This guide is intended to provide a general overview of the principal laws that apply when an employer chooses to provide benefits for its employees. The purpose of the guide is to help employers communicate with their advisors more effectively about employee benefits and benefit programs. Employee benefits (or simply “benefits” – the two terms are used inter...

SC Not really married, not really benefits, not really leave

August 5th, 2019

Reggie Gay at Burr Forman McNair

You know what they say . . . no marriage license, no benefits, no FMLA leave.

At least if you got married after July 25, 2019

Reggie Gay says the South Carolina Supreme Court abolished common law marriage which therefore eliminates benefits and FMLA leave.

SC Common law marriage is no more – this affects the workplace how?

August 2nd, 2019

Benjamin Dudek at Fisher Phillips

Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free.

Exactly* the reasoning behind The South Carolina Supreme Court's decision that as of July 24, 2019, South Carolina will no longer recognize common-law marriages going forward.

What this means for employers: just because an employee claims they have a common-law marriage doesn't mean they have access to employee benefit plans or leave typically available to a spouse.

* OK, maybe not exactly, but if the shoe fits, take the bull by the horns.

401(k) plan + payroll provider = 401k good things

October 22nd, 2018

Jennifer Ready at HK Finanical Services

Combining your 401(k) plan administration with your payroll provider might sound like putting all of your eggs into one basket, but there are some true benefits to administrators for integrating support for these two functions. Anyone who works with 401(k) plans knows there are strict compliance requirements to managing a plan. Not only are there reporting requirements, but the timing of everything that makes a 401(k) plan run smoothly, is also critically important.

Open enrollment – personalizing perks pays off

October 10th, 2018


SHRMS's third in a series of articles on meeting fall 2018 open-enrollment challenges deals with providing employees with the opportunity to tailor benefits to meet their needs.

How can customized benefits increase loyalty? Would employees pay for them on their own? Would they take a pay cut for better choices?

See how employers and employees view the desirability of:

  • paid family leave
  • commuting cost reimbursement
  • parking at work
  • leave to care for an elderly relative
  • pet insurance
  • fertility treatments.

As always, communication is a key.

Help hiring holiday help here

October 9th, 2018

John Monroe and Kristina Griffin at FordHarrison

As you can tell by the “seasonal” aisle of your local drug store, holiday season has begun! The seemingly endless stretch of celebrations from October to January brings with it a whole cornucopia of HR issues – including the use of seasonal workers.

Your personal guides / goblins / gobblers / elves, John Monroe and Kristina Griffin, have five basic practices that will get you to the other side of January.

  1. I-9
  2. review timekeeping
  3. local PTO and benefits
  4. how long do you expect them to hang around
  5. train everybody.

Only 90 days until we flip the calendar. You're welcome.

I've changed my name – to Optimus Prime

September 21st, 2018


So say an employee, let's call him, for purposes of this exercise, Scott Edward Nall, walks into your office to let you know he has changed his name to Optimus Prime.  Do you:

  1. snicker and ask him if his Laser Axe Hand is really made of energy
  2. wonder why he isn't riding a dinosaur
  3. fall to your knees and plead fealty
  4. start the process of updating Mr. Prime in your HR records.

Four-legged office mates and the pawternity policies they benefit

October 24th, 2018

Danielle Krauthamer at Fisher Phillips

Some of you know that we have an office dog (who also happens to be my dog Queso, pictured) in addition to other dogs and cats/kittens (Marshall, our 10-day old kitten eating breakfast on our youtube channel - Queso has several cameos).

Danielle Krauthamer at Fisher Phillips provides the four legs you will need to stand on when considering your pawternity policy:

  1. employees love their pets (duh)
  2. different types of pawternity leave
  3. more trouble than it's worth?
  4. implementing the best policy.

Employment agreements – what to do before you do

August 20th, 2018

Judy Yi at Polsinelli

Employment Agreements should be called Agreement Employment Agreements because the agreement comes before there is employment for use after employment.

Here are five factors you should consider (so maybe they should be called Consider 5 Agreements Employment Agreements):

  1. complexity
  2. restrictive covenants
  3. term of employment
  4. change in control
  5. post-termination


If you are in the practice of sending employees on overnight business trips AND you employ new mothers AND you believe in treating your employees right we’ve got just the bird for you. 

Milk Stork is the first breast milk shipping company to support nursing mothers who are on the road and need to send their breast milk back home - and they offer special company packages so employers can support their maternal workforce! A-MAZING.

A special thanks to Littler's tweet for the heads up on this awesome company!

PTO on the house!

May 22nd, 2019

Kat Cunnignham, president of Moresource Inc.

Name a benefit that employees want, doesn't cost anything, reduces paperwork and can boost morale and productivity.

Paid time off.

But there are potential downsides and questions you need to ask (and more important, answer) before announcing this wonder benefit to your staff. Kat Cunningham, president of Moresources Inc. lays them out for you.

How to treat fringe benefits for employees

June 12th, 2018

C. John Wentzell, Jr at Ogletree Deakins

This chapter provides an overview of some fringe benefits that are not among the benefits that can trigger coverage under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and are not discussed elsewhere in this book. Generally, a fringe benefit is a form of non-cash compensation paid to an employee. Fringe benefits provided to employees are taxable unless there is a specifically applicable income tax exclusion. If taxable, the fringe benefits discussed are wages reportable on Form W-2 and are subject to withholding.

The following sections describe some of the more common excludable fringe benefits that might be provided by the typical employer. The list is not exhaustive. Among other things, benefits that could be offered only by employers engaged in a particular line of business (such as reduced tuition for dependents of college and university faculty members) have been omitted.

Service dogs at work

October 24th, 2018


(Customer) service dogs at work can work. Our authors @Littler help show how here