DOL’s Federal Overtime Rule Blocked

The Department of Labor’s (DOL) new overtime rule was set to take effect on December 1, 2016. Employers were given more than six months to prepare for the rule that would have increased the salary threshold for the “white collar overtime exemptions” to $47,476 a year. Instead, on November 22, 2016 a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction, blocking the new rule until further notice.

What the Overtime Rule would have provided:

  • A salary threshold increasing eligibility from $455/week to $913/week
  • An automatic update of the salary threshold every 3 years, based on wage growth over time
  • Strengthened overtime protections for salaried workers already entitled to overtime
  • More clarity for workers and employers

How employers needed to adjust for the change:

  • Pay time and a half for overtime work
  • Raise workers’ salaries above the new threshold
  • Limit workers’ hours to 40/week

Next steps after the block?

The initial proposal came from President Obama in 2014 to update the overtime regulations to reflect and modernize the rules for the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It is yet to be seen what actions President elect Trump will take to change or block the overtime rule.

Employers can rely on the existing overtime exemption rules until a decision is reached, but should remain watchful for new developments related to the rule. We will continue to monitor these developments and provide information and updates.

How Important is Open Enrollment Education?

Survey says…. Most employees don’t understand benefits very well! In a new report by the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, 80% of Americans believe they understand their benefits very well, but only about half demonstrate they do based upon what Guardian deems to be optimal benefits-related decisions. In fact, in a benefits coverage and terminology quiz, the average score was a 72, with 1 in 5 people receiving an “F” grade.

Most employees typically look at what they know – the generalities like premiums, co-pays, and deductibles. However, failure to do the proper research may leave employees exposed in the case of an emergency. Many times, options like GAP plans or HSA plans could work well for employees to help save, but they are not familiar with the coverage and become hesitant to participate.

These numbers found in the report are concerning because the lack of benefits understanding could be hurting employees in the long run, especially with healthcare costs continuing to rise. Educating employees thoroughly during the open enrollment process can help eliminate some of the major concerns regarding financial risk, and any complexities within certain plans.

Guardian’s study went on to find that only 47% of working Americans feel their employer is doing a good job educating them about how to use their benefits – a drop from 66% in 2014. So, what can you do to create a better open enrollment experience?

  • Provide ample time – Give your employees proper notice and reminders about any upcoming changes and when the open enrollment period will be. Allow for at least two weeks to give your employees plenty of time to review their options and ask questions where necessary.
  • Use friendly language – Insurance lingo can be confusing to people outside of the industry. Try to break down complex language into layman’s terms to give your employees the ability to fully understand each benefit. Explain any terminology to them they may not understand!
  • Provide expert guidance – Have an HR professional available to provide guidance to employees or answer any questions they may have, basic or complex. Everyone is different and guidance can change based on circumstances. If you do not have someone experienced on staff, contact your insurance broker who can provide you with advice and educational materials.
  • Introduce new benefits throughout the year – Consider explaining voluntary benefits throughout the year like life insurance, individual disability insurance, critical illness, or other supplemental health insurance. If given all this information at once, it could be more difficult for employees to grasp.

At Faison Group, we are always happy to help answer any open enrollment questions you may have and review your options for the upcoming year. We have educational material on nearly every benefit you can imagine and can provide these to you upon request!

What Does the Election Mean for the ACA?

The two candidates had differing views on a variety of issues including health care reform leading up to election day. On November 8, Donald Trump was elected the 45 th president of the United States and will be inaugurated on January 20, 2017. So, what do the election results mean for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and compliance moving forward? Throughout Trump’s campaign he has called for a repeal of Obama’s healthcare reform legislation. Trump’s victory combined with Republican majorities retained in both the Senate and the House of Representatives could have a major impact on compliance issues in the coming years.

What to Expect

Employers should continue to prepare for the upcoming requirements and deadlines as they have been prior to the election. Although Trump has been elected, he will not take office until late January and thus no major legislative or regulatory changes are likely to take place prior to 2017.

The Future

While it is unclear exactly what changes will be made to the ACA over the next four years or when these changes will occur, in the past Republicans have suggested:

  • Repeal of the ACA, with or without a potential replacement health care reform legislation
  • Partial repeal of key provisions (such as the individual and employer mandates)
  • Changes to the Medicare and Medicaid programs
  • New policies intended to expand coverage and lower health care costs

Again, it is important to note that the newly elected officials will not take office until early 2017, so employers that provide group health coverage must continue to prepare for the upcoming ACA deadlines .

Uncertainty

While Trump’s campaign called for a repeal of the ACA, he recently told the Wall Street Journal that he would consider keeping some parts, specifically the guarantee of coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to remain on parents’ plans through age 26. After meeting with President Obama, Trump stated, “I told him I will look at his suggestions, and out of respect, I will do that. Either Obamacare will be amended, or repealed and replaced.”

Uncertainty looms after the election and keeping up with compliance is always a tough task for HR professionals. If you have questions on how to prepare for open enrollment this year or what you can do to remain compliant, feel free to Contact Us!