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  • Keeping an Eye on Medicare for All

    August 12, 2019

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    Polls are preventing some dissenting voices from voicing dissent, and the views of those rising to the top are being heard more often.  Currently in favor of Medicare for All and the resultant abolition of private health insurance:  Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

    One interesting question:  who would administer the claims for the government under these proposals? After all, carriers pay the Medicare claims for the government now.

  • Volunteering Time Off, Part 1 | CA Benefits Agency

    August 7, 2019

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    Volunteering Time Off, or VTO, has become a buzz topic for many companies as of late. It involves encouraging employees to take time off from their job to plug in to their community and the nonprofits that support it. Let’s delve in deeper to understand what VTO looks like.

    • Typical VTO policies allot for 8 hours of paid time off to volunteer each year.
    • Just like Paid Time Off (PTO), VTO usually requires advance notice to the employer and approval for time away from the business.
    • Studies have shown that VTO boosts employee engagement and retention.
    • Millennials state they are attracted to companies who offer VTO.
    • VTO builds loyalty and pride for a company with its employees.
    • A recent Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study states 20% of its respondents now offer volunteering benefits as part of their employee benefits package.

    As you look for ways to engage with your employees through VTO, take a look at these resources:

    • VolunteerMatch.org—This website makes the business-to-nonprofit connection possible. Nonprofits post projects and jobs they need assistance with and then the company builds its team to help.
    • Volunteering Is CSR—An arm of Volunteer Match, this blog is for business leaders to educate themselves on best practices and case studies.
    • CatchAFire.org—This site connects professionals with nonprofits using their specific skill sets.
    • PointsofLight.org—Founded by President George H.W. Bush, this group offers toolkits to businesses and nonprofits to maximize volunteering efforts as well as offers products to maximize those efforts.

  • How to Identify Employee Burnout | California Benefits Consultants

    August 5, 2019

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    The North Bay Business Journal recently put on their 2019 Heath Care Conference which highlighted physician burnout. An alarming trend in the medical community but, unfortunately, job burnout is not isolated to just the medical field. A study done by Gallup of nearly 7,500 full- time employees found that roughly two-thirds of full-time workers experience job burnout. The study also found that burned out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job. Employee burnout that goes unaddressed will impact both individual and organizational performance. Here are some ways employers can identify employee burnout:

    • Disengagement
    • Decreased productivity or quality of work
    • Increased absenteeism
    • Cynicism

    Some Ways to handle employee burnout

    • Try and get the employee to open up
      -Talking to the employee experiencing burnout will give you (the employer) a better idea of what the employee is experiencing and how you can help them.
    • Allow the employee to take another position temporarily-Some people need a change of scenery. I have personally experienced this where I worked in another department for a while just for change of pace, different job and seeing different faces and location.
    • Encourage PTO

    As stated above, some people need a change of scenery. Studies have shown that taking time away from the job can have physical and psychological health benefits. Time away has shown to lower stress and lessen the risk of heart disease.

    burned-out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6

    times as likely to be actively seeking a different job. Employee burnout that goes unaddressed

    will impact both individual and organizational performance.  Here are some ways employers can identify employee burnout:

    ▪  Disengagement

    ▪  Decreased productivity or quality of work

    ▪  Increased absenteeism

    ▪  Cynicism

    Some Ways to Handle Employee Burnout

    ▪  Try and get the employee to open up

    -Talking to the employee experiencing burnout will give you (the employer) a better idea of what the employee is experiencing and how you can help them.

    ▪  Allow the employee to take another position temporarily

    -Some people need a change of scenery. I have personally experienced this where I worked in another department for a while just for change of pace, different job and seeing different faces and location.

    ▪  Encourage PTO

    -As stated above, some people need a change of scenery. Studies have shown that taking time away from the job can have physical and psychological health benefits. Time away has shown to lower stress and lessen the risk of heart disease.

    By Andrew McNeil

  • Millennials, legal industry workers more likely to be hungover at work | CA Benefits Agency

    July 31, 2019

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    Dive Brief:

    • On average, American workers miss two days of work per year due to being hungover, a survey of 1,000 full-time workers from Delphi Behavioral Health Group found. By industry, the sector most affected by hangovers is tech, with an average of 8 sick days used, while construction workers and legal industry workers used four, the survey found. Medical and healthcare; wholesale and retail; and government and public administration workers used only one sick day on average, according to Delphi, which estimated that hangovers cost U.S. employers more than $41 billion in sick day pay last year.
    • More than 75% of workers admitted they’ve shown up to work with a hangover — nearly 80% of men surveyed and about 70% of women — the study revealed. By age group, millennials lead the pack at almost 77% reporting for work hungover, and workers in the legal industry were most likely to nurse hangovers at the office, Delphi said.
    • Workers come into work hungover on average six times per year, according to the survey, and spend about five hours of those days actually working. To get through the day, they pretend to work, hide out in the restrooms, take a nap or a long lunch. More than 30% said they’ve told their boss they overdid it the night before, and there were no consequences for 66%.

    Dive Insight:

    While the occasional overindulgence isn’t problematic, employers may rightfully be concerned with the behavior if it becomes a chronic problem and it’s worth considering if it indicates a broader issue. Almost half of employers are unsure whether their staff has a substance abuse problem, but some reports suggest employers think mental illness and substance abuse levels are reaching record highs. The trend is prompting some companies to assess if new benefits can help workers.

    Many of the industries that appeared on the Delphi report, like the legal industry, are considered high stress. Mental health advocates believe stress on the job threatens work-life balance for many workers. Unrealistic expectations for productivity, efficiency and constant communication can pressure staff. Ironically, as stress levels increase, productivity can suffer and some workers may not be equipped with effective coping mechanisms. To address this problem, Macy’s, ADP and other employers recently partnered to create a guide for offering mental health benefits and reducing mental health stigma.

    By Riia O’Donnell

    Originally posted on hrdive.com

  • New HSA Limits Announced

    July 26, 2019

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    Effective 2020 the allowable contribution for an individual HSA is $3,550 and for a family it is $7,100.

    You can use them until you can’t – and then you must let them go – Commuter Benefits 

    In Information Letter 2019-02, the IRS has confirmed that unused transportation benefits will be forfeited when an employee terminates employment.  It does not matter how much or why – when the employee is no longer actively employed, the remaining balance in the account is forfeited.

  • Gig Economy | California Insurance Agency

    July 24, 2019

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    Gig-Economy

  • What happened to the budget surplus?

    July 23, 2019

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    Governor Newsom is proposing to spend $98 million a year to provide medical coverage to low-income immigrants between the ages of 19 and 25 who are living here illegally.  Further, the State budget proposal added those who were 65 or older.  The Assembly next said it would cover everyone over the age of 19.  The Governor said that the $98 million has now become $3 billion.  The Assembly bill has passed 44-11 and now goes to the Senate.

  • REMINDER: HEALTH PLAN PCORI FEES ARE DUE JULY 31 | CA Benefits Team

    July 22, 2019

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    Employers that self-insured any group health plans in 2018, including health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), are responsible for determining whether the annual PCORI fee applies to their plan. If so, use Form 720 to calculate, report, and pay the fee by July 31, 2019.

    PCORI stands for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. Federal law imposes a small annual fee on most health plans that include medical benefits in order to raise revenue to finance the Institute’s work. See our blog for details on which employer-sponsored plans are subject to the PCORI fee, how to calculate the 2018 amount, complete Form 720, and make payment.

    By Kathy Berger

    Originally posted on thinkhr.com

  • Ask the Experts: Overtime and Paid Time Off | California Benefits Advisors

    July 17, 2019

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    Question: Should we include holidays, PTO, vacation, or other leave taken during the workweek in calculating overtime premium pay under FLSA rules?

    Answer: No. Because holiday, PTO, and vacation hours are not actually hours worked they do not count towards overtime pay.

    Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), an employer who requires or permits an employee to work overtime is generally required to pay the employee premium pay for such overtime work. Unless specifically exempted, employees covered by the FLSA must receive overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rates of pay. The key consideration for premium pay under the FLSA is whether or not the employee actually works more than 40 hours in the workweek, not just that he or she is paid for more than 40 hours in the workweek.

    For example, an employee is off work for one day for a company-paid holiday and takes the next day as a paid vacation day. He then works 10 hours for the next three days of the workweek. Under the FLSA, he would be paid straight time at his regular rate for the 46 hours recorded for that week as follows: 8 hours of holiday pay + 8 hours of vacation pay + 30 hours of regular pay for time worked = 46 hours at his regular pay rate.

    Employers should also check state laws for overtime requirements regarding holiday and vacation time.

    Originally posted on thinkhr.com

  • Inflation Allowances don’t allow much hope – your cost exposure has increased again

    July 17, 2019

     

    Under the Affordable Care Act, carriers are allowed to amend their plan designs each year under an inflation factor to keep their “exposure” constant,which means that the exposure for the patient will increase to also keep his exposure constant.  For 2020, the out-of-pocket maximum allowed is $8,150 for individual coverage and $16,300 for family coverage.

    When CMS announced these new limits, they also said that starting in 2020 plans are permitted, but not required, to exclude drug manufacturer coupons from counting toward a covered person’s annual out of pocket maximum IF a medically-appropriate generic drug is available.

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