Which Pays First – Medicare or Private Insurance?

December 16th, 2014 by

The post below is a guest blog from W. Hunter Walton who serves as Principal, Health & Welfare Consultant for CAI’s employee benefits partner Hill, Chesson & Woody.

Picture1As we go through Medicare Open Enrollment for this year, it’s important to remember some basics about how Medicare interacts with traditional private medical insurance plans. Many individuals who are entitled to Medicare benefits are still actively working and eligible for employer sponsored health insurance. When a person has multiple insurance plans, coordination of benefits takes place.This determines which payer (insurance company) pays first.

In most instances where group health insurance is involved, Medicare is the secondary payer. That means that the group plan will pay first, paying the amount that its maximum coverage allows, and then Medicare will be asked to pay the remainder. This is important, because when you determine your potential liability, you don’t want to exclude members who may be on Medicare and assume that your group plan will not be responsible for any claims.

Check out the details in our on-demand webinar on Medicare Secondary Payer.

It’s also important to remember some prohibitions that come with Medicare and employer-sponsored group health plans. It is illegal to incentivize employees off of the group plan and onto Medicare. While some feel that this could improve their demographics and potentially eliminate some high cost claimants, the government makes it clear that penalties can be assessed for each time an incentive is offered, whether it is verbal or written.

Another consideration is when your company offers a High Deductible Health Plan paired with a Health Savings Account (HSA). Those who are entitled to Medicare, meaning both eligible and enrolled, cannot contribute to an HSA on a tax-preferred basis. If this is the only plan option your company offers, your Medicare entitled employees may not be able to take advantage of the full benefit of the plan design. Employees who carry a balance in an HSA that was accumulated prior to enrolling in Medicare may still use those funds for Medicare premiums and out of pocket expenses.

If you have any specific questions about Medicare, CMS has a variety of detailed resources.

The 2015 HR Management Conference Will Help You Prepare for the Future

December 11th, 2014 by

2015 HRMC ppt slide imageIn order to stay successful and make positive impacts to your bottom line, you must keep up with the kaleidoscope of factors that are now driving today’s business climate. Technology, global competition and shifting demographics are only a sampling of those factors.

From hiring the right people, to developing a thriving culture, and to getting the people out of the organization that don’t belong, HR can lead the charge! Please join us for the 2015 HR Management Conference on March 4 and March 5 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh. With the theme Mind Shift: Talent Strategies for a Changing Workforce, come prepared to shift your way of thinking around talent strategies to address the dynamics and effects of the changing workforce of today’s business environment.

Four keynote speakers will share their informative presentations for conference participants:

Conference goers will also have the opportunity to attend several breakout sessions during the two-day conference. Some of the topics include:

CAI will also announce the winners of the 2015 Ovation Awards for HR Excellence on the second day of the conference. There is still time to submit a nomination if your company has implemented an HR/people practice that fits into one of the following categories: addressing the skills gap, driving HR efficiency, and leveraging changing workplace demographics. The nomination deadline is Friday, December 19. Please send nominations to Doug.blizzard@capital.org.

Please visit www.capital.org/hrconf to review the full agenda, descriptions about the presentations and speakers, and to register. Please call 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 with any questions.

3 Tips for Leading a Multigenerational Workplace

December 9th, 2014 by

multi generationYour workplace might be comprised of employees and managers from four different generations. The age differences between your youngest employees and most experienced employees could be anywhere from one to 50 years.

The workforce now has the Silent Generation (born before 1946), the Baby Boomer Generation (born 1946-1964), Generation X (born 1965-1980), and Generation Y or the Millennial Generation (born 1981-2000). Each generation may come with its own approaches and ideals, but they all have assets to bring to the table. Employees of all generations need to be led in a way that makes an organization cohesive and united.

It takes time to figure out how to approach your multigenerational workplace, while maintaining the company culture and environment. Here are three tips to consider when leading your multigenerational workplace:

Be flexible and open to new ideas

If you have employees born in a different generation than you, it is likely that they can have different ideas that might fit with their generation. Differences are not a bad thing. They can lead to ideas and approaches that you might not have thought of or considered. Be open to ideas that challenge your way of thinking and lead to an innovative approach.

Initiate open communication about needs

Employees across multiple generations might possess a variety of workplace needs or preferences. You may prefer face-to-face communication or a personal note. However, an employee in a different generation might prefer email or a text message.

Employees may also need different types of motivation. While Generation X tends to be motivated by results, Generation Y can be associated with being motivated by achievements. You will have to be open to asking questions and figuring out how employees are motivated.

Eliminate generational stereotypes

You as a manager are expected to have open communication with your employees, yet you should also encourage open discussion amongst employees. Encourage people to discuss their differences, whether they be strengths or weaknesses. This can help to eliminate any generational stereotypes. Open communication could lead to the discovery of a Silent Generation employee’s social media skills.

A multigenerational workplace is one that has a variety of approaches, ideas, and skills that can all be used to strengthen an organization. Instead of taking a general approach to leading all of your employees, figure out how to use their variety of skills most effectively.

For additional tips for managing a multigenerational workplace, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: US Department of Labor

Nominate Your Company for a 2015 Ovation Award for HR Excellence

December 4th, 2014 by
Bruce Clarke with 2014 Large Company winners - AICPA

Bruce Clarke with 2014 Large Company Winners – AICPA

We are now accepting nominations for CAI’s 2015 Ovation Awards for HR Excellence. The HR awards recognize North Carolina employers that have successfully initiated an HR or people practice that positively affected their business.

This year we have created three categories for you to submit a nomination. Unlike previous years, we will select the two best initiatives for each category regardless of size, selecting six winners in total. You are welcome to submit multiple nominations to any or all categories. The three categories are:

  1. Addressing the Skills Gap

Nomination topics can include: efforts in apprenticeship programs, professional development activities, training opportunities, succession planning, etc.

  1. Driving HR Efficiency

Nomination topics can include: efforts in outsourcing work, implementing HR technology, flexible work schedules, strengthening processes, etc.

  1. Leveraging Changing Workplace Demographics

Nomination topics can include: efforts in mentor programs, working with different generations, maternity and paternity planning, diversity training, recruiting veterans, etc.

Please submit a nomination that successfully tackled one of the topics above and helped your company reach business goals.

Submitting a nomination is quick, easy and free! Recognition and publicity, an enhanced employer brand, and free registration to CAI’s 2015 HR Management Conference are a few of the benefits you’ll earn when your company wins one of the awards. Plus it’s a way for you to give back to the HR community and to have a broader impact on workplaces in NC.

Here are the questions you will need to answer when entering your submission:

  1. The appropriate nomination category
  2. Describe the problem or opportunity that your initiative addressed
  3. Describe your solution
  4. Describe how your solution positively impacted business results

Please submit nominations via email to Doug Blizzard at Doug.Blizzard@capital.org. Please contact Doug with any questions regarding the awards.

The deadline for submitting nominations is Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. Winners will receive their awards and must be present at the 2015 HR Management Conference on March 5, 2015. Winners will also have the opportunity to share the process and results of their initiatives and participate in an Ovation Award panel at the conference. Past winners of the HR awards include: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC, AICPA, Tanger Outlets, Farragut, Eye Care Associates and more! Good luck!

Delivering Great New Employees – Part 3

December 2nd, 2014 by

In today’s video blog, CAI’s Vice President of Membership, Doug Blizzard, shares his last installment of advice for hiring great new employees. Doug starts the video by describing a triangle that represents a pool of job candidates. He says the 80 percent of candidates that are at the bottom of the triangle are aggressively searching for a new job. The five percent of candidates at the top of the triangle are not open to new opportunities. However, Doug says the actual challenge is to attract the 15 percent in the middle who aren’t looking but might be open to a better opportunity.

To uncover those 15 percent, Doug offers several tips in the video. His first tip is to engage employees. He suggests telling your employees about current openings at the company and asking them to tell their friends, as well as post about the jobs on Facebook and LinkedIn. His second tip is to encourage employees to brag about the cool things your company is doing, such as blood drives or food drives. His last tip is to ask employees questions like “why do you enjoy working for our company” or “what makes our company different from our competition.” Doug says to use their answers in campaigns and ads to target and attract new employees.

Doug’s overall message is to train your employees to be good talent scouts for your organization. Please call our Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 for additional ways to attract new talent.

 

5 Important Topics You Might Have Missed from the 2014 Triad Employment Law Update

November 25th, 2014 by

2014 TELU Flash ImageMore than 170 people attended CAI’s annual Triad Employment Law Update on Friday, November 14. Held at the beautiful Grandover Resort in Greensboro, the conference informed participants on the most recent updates in state and federal employment law. Knowledgeable attorneys from Constangy, Brooks and Smith, LLP, as well as compliance experts from CAI, shared information on several employment law topics, such as DOMA, health care reform, I-9 and E-verify compliance and FLSA.

Below are five important topics that speakers highlighted at this year’s conference:

I-9s Made Easy

  • I-9s must be completed by employees no later than the first day of work and completed by the employer no later than the third day of the new hire’s employment.
  • Retain I-9s for the longer of three years or one year after an employee’s termination.
  • Office of Special Counsel of the US Justice Department investigates I-9 complaints of over-documenting an I-9, asking for a particular document, not accepting a valid document and requiring a document when one is not needed.

Practical Tips for Complying with Health Care Reform

  • Determination of “full-time” – employees must be treated as full-time in the following “stability period” if the employee averages 30 hours during the measurement period.
    • Stability period must last for at least six months and be the same for new employees and on-going employees.
  • Carefully consider the best measurement and stability periods to minimize costs.
  • Track hours to confirm that individuals are properly classified.

Correcting FLSA Mistakes

  • Meal breaks must be continuous and uninterrupted. If not, you must pay employees for that time.
    • Tips – Don’t let employees take lunch at their work stations, train supervisors to respect lunch, and if you use automatic meal break deductions, have a procedure in place for exceptions.
  • You must pay employees for preliminary and postliminary work that is indispensible to their principal work activities. For example, time spent logging into the computer system and shutting it down at the end of the day is likely compensable.
    • Tips – allow employees to clock in when they arrive at their work stations. If your clock in system is run through a computer system, either leave the computer on or add a set number of minutes to the time each day, and have a procedure for exceptions.

Avoid Discrimination with Unique Employees

  • Public image policies should not be based upon discriminatory preferences of clients. Be sure to avoid improper stereotypes, and if you have a questionable policy, ask yourself if you’re willing to defend it in court.

Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Same-Sex Marriage

  • In 2012 North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment saying marriage is between one man and one woman. In 2013 the Supreme Court of the United States declared that amendment unconstitutional under Section 2 of DOMA.
  • Same-sex spouses will be entitled to all spousal benefits if they married in NC after October 10, 2014.
  • Same-sex spouses will be entitled to all spousal benefits if they were validly married in another state before moving to NC.
  • Same-sex spouses will not be entitled to spousal benefits if they were “married” in a state that doesn’t recognize it, but they can always remarry in NC.

For further assistance on staying compliant with state and federal employment laws, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Affirmative Action – Revised Audit Scheduling Letter for 2014

November 20th, 2014 by

CAI’s Manager for Affirmative Action Services, Kaleigh Ferraro, shares information on affirmative action plans from the OFCCP. Make sure you are compliant.

Kaleigh Ferraro, Manager, Affirmative Action Services

Kaleigh Ferraro, Manager, Affirmative Action Services

On September 30, 2014, the Office of Federal Contracts Compliance Programs (OFCCP) released an updated audit Scheduling Letter. The OFCCP indicated they would begin issuing a new audit scheduling letter on October 15, 2014 for contractor audits.  Outlined below are the significant changes from the previous scheduling letter and itemized listing and the newly approved one.

  • The Itemized listing requires companies to submit 22 items versus the 11 previously required.
  • Employment Activity data (applicants, hires, promotions, terminations) must be submitted including race subgroups not just minority totals. Information on applicants with “unknown” race and gender must also be included.
  • Compensation data must be submitted at the employee level and not aggregated as previously required. Data for all employees includes: race, gender, hire date, job title, EEO-1 category, job group, hours worked, base pay or rate plus additional compensation such as bonuses, commissions, merit pay, etc. Compensation date should be submitted electronically.
  • Copies of reasonable accommodation policies, requests and resolutions.

 

The revised scheduling letter and itemized listing also incorporates new items related to the revised regulations for Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA). This newly requested information includes:

  • Evaluation results of effectiveness of outreach and recruitment efforts for individuals with disabilities and protected veterans.
  • Documentation of actions taken to comply with audit and reporting system requirements.
  • Submittal of data collected regarding number of applicants, applicants who identified as veterans or individuals with disabilities, number of hires and those that identified as veterans or disabled and job openings and jobs filled.
  • Documentation on hiring benchmarks for veterans and analysis on utilization goals for individuals with disabilities. Results of most recent assessments on personnel processes, including date performed, actions taken and date of next scheduled assessment.
  • Recent assessments of physical and mental qualifications, including date performed, actions taken and date of next scheduled assessment.

Contractors should review the revised Scheduling Letter as well as their affirmative action program and data to ensure they are properly capturing and maintaining requested information. Contractors only have 30 days from receipt of the letter to gather and submit the requested information.

For more information on affirmative action and the recent changes within it, please be sure to sign up for our free webinar Affirmative Action 101: The Basics on December 2, 2014.

For helpful tips and information on preparing your next affirmative action plan, please sign up for our next affirmative action class AAP: What it Takes To Prepare a Compliant Affirmative Action Plan on December, 12, 2014.

Employers Need To Be Prepared For The Cadillac Tax

November 18th, 2014 by

The post below is a guest blog from Mike Beck who serves as Principal, Health & Welfare Consultant for CAI’s employee benefits partner Hill, Chesson & Woody.

cadillac taxWhile most employers are focused on managing through 2015 and the upcoming employer mandate, the Cadillac Tax will present another significant challenge for many in 2018 and deserves attention.

The Cadillac Tax is an excise tax on health coverage deemed to be high cost.  The tax begins in 2018, and levies a 40 percent excise on the value of health insurance benefits exceeding the threshold of $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage (indexed to inflation) on an annual basis. The thresholds increase for individuals in high-risk professions e.g. police officers/fireman and for employers that have a disproportionately older population.

While these thresholds seem high for some, when most evaluate their current premium and apply three years of  a trend increase to it, it is easy to see how in  2018 many employers will be  close to hitting or even exceeding the thresholds.  Industry estimates show that nearly 50% of employers will be impacted in 2018.  Making matters worse, it is not just the cost of health insurance that goes into the calculation.  Employer or employee contributions to a health flexible spending accounts must be included as well as employer contributions health savings accounts and health reimbursement accounts (HRAs).

The outcome is that employers will likely have to reduce the value of the plan they are offering, reduce the limit of their Flexible Spending Account, and eliminate any employer contributions to an H.S.A. or a combination of these tactics in an effort to avoid the tax.

The tax will apply to employers regardless of plan funding (fully insured or self insured) and is scheduled to begin in 2018 and go into perpetuity.  The tax is non deductible for employers so many employers may experience an increased tax burden due to the loss of deductibility.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates the tax will raise $80 billion between 2014 and 2023.

Employer reaction has been mixed with many taking a wait and see attitude and delaying a decision as long as possible.  In a recent survey of 333 large employers by the National Business Coalition on Health and the Benz Corp, according to the results, “the Cadillac Tax is currently not driving major benefit change.”  Of the employers surveyed, 30 percent have not made any decisions around their course of action with 46 percent of employers keeping benefit coverage the same.

Since the inception of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) there has been wide talk that the Cadillac Tax would be repealed.  Pundits proclaimed that large employers and unions would not stand for it.  As the ACA marches on, the Cadillac Tax is becoming more and more of a reality.  Congress is counting on the tax to be a major source of revenue so repealing the Tax could be unlikely.  There is a possibility that the Cadillac Tax could be redesigned or some form of compromise reached.  The long term impact to employees will most likely be reduced benefits and higher out of pocket costs which may create morale and retention issues.

Employers need to plan now and estimate what the potential costs of the Cadillac Tax to be for their organization and determine a strategy moving forward.

 

 

I Scribbled on a BMW with a Sharpie®

November 11th, 2014 by

pink carThe following post is from CAI’s Marketing Design Specialist, Vanessa Laster.

Actually, there were ten of us from CAI. We all did it. And we didn’t get caught or arrested or even yelled at.

One recent Monday in October (Breast Cancer Awareness month, in case you’ve been under a rock), the Sales and Marketing team of CAI took several hours out of our busy schedules to volunteer for a greater cause. We divided into groups and each group manned a pink car – a “Hope Mobile” to be precise. Crown Automotive of Greensboro has wrapped six different cars with pink graphics to raise awareness and money for research benefiting Earlier.org – Friends for Earlier Breast Cancer Test®. Julie Newcomb, CAI’s Triad Member Solutions Manager, is very passionate about the cause and serves on the Board of this organization, and she arranged for our team to help out.

So we donned our best pink attire and gathered around our respective cars in busy intersections and corners in the middle of the High Point Furniture Market (insanity!). We asked passersby from all over the world to give just one dollar and sign the car to raise money that Earlier.org will use to help identify an earlier test for breast cancer. One hundred percent of the funds raised are given directly to Earlier.org for research grants.

Though some folks just ignored our pleas – we think perhaps they just didn’t speak English – but most people were excited to support our efforts. Many of them even took pictures with the cars. It was inspiring and humbling to learn firsthand that people from all over the globe have had similar experiences with breast cancer in their lives. Some gave over $1. One of our teams even received a $100 bill!

At the end of the day, we raised $625 for Earlier.org. Our three groups were very competitive, really. What else do you expect from the Sales and Marketing Team? So who won? Team Volvo, Team BMW or Team Acura? The winner is every woman and man (yes, men can get it too) who will ever need a test to determine if they have breast cancer.

Support the cause. Visit www.earlier.org for more information.

 

3 Tips for Managing Stress Around the Holidays

November 6th, 2014 by

ThanksgivingThe holiday season can be a wonderful time of year. It is a season of spending time with family and friends, celebrating the year’s successes, and ringing in the new year. Yet this time can also cause stress at work because it is notorious for being busy, and you find yourself having five to-do lists that never seem to get completed. As the year is coming to a close, you may wonder where the year went and how you are going to manage to meet your annual goals while preparing for the holidays. While being busy can be overwhelming, there are ways to ease your stress and manage work so that you can enjoy the season!

By following these three tips, you can start to say goodbye to stress for the holidays!

1. Make to-do lists

This may be an obvious concept that you could already be doing, but do you make to-do lists that sit around and inevitably become longer? To-do lists can be very helpful if they are specific and have an end. You may be thinking that you have an endless amount of things to do, but try to make to-do lists for different areas of your life. At work, categorize your to-do lists and make sure that they contain specific tasks that will be completed. It is also helpful to add completion dates to your list, so there’s a definite end in sight.

 

2. Prioritize your tasks

Now that you have your to-do list(s), you can now start prioritizing all of the tasks you need to do. It can be helpful to prioritize tasks by relevance if there are certain things that need to be done before others, or you can prioritize by desire. Putting the less desired tasks first gets them out of the way, so that you can make room for more enjoyable tasks that leave you feeling more motivated. By prioritizing your work, you then have a direction that you are going in to reach your goal.

 

3. Stop multitasking

Multitasking may seem helpful to do around the holidays because it allows you to get a lot done at once, but the fact is, we were not designed to multitask. It seems like a lot of things are getting done faster, but it in actuality, with your focus divided so much, you start to work at a slower pace and your quality of work could get diminished. You can only stretch yourself so thin before things start to get chaotic and stressful. Focus on one thing at a time so you can produce your best quality of work.

 

The holidays only happen once a year so make the most of them! Relax and enjoy yourself by following these three steps. By reducing the stress in your life, you make room for joy!

For more information on managing stress at work, call a member of our Advice and Resolution team today at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746. The team is now available 24 hours each day throughout the week! Please give us a call!

 

Photo Source: Satya Murthy