Archive for September, 2013

What is the Best Employee Reward?

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

In today’s video post, CAI’s VP of Membership, Doug Blizzard, breaks down one of the best ways to reward your employees.

Doug says it’s logical for compensation, incentives and bonuses to come up when thinking about employee rewards systems. He mentions that many employers are looking for low-cost and no-cost ways to reward their workforce.

The best employee reward is debatable, but Doug says recognition and appreciation are at the top of his lists. He says these two ways to reward are not used enough by top management, even though they are low-cost and high-return tools.

Employees like to know where they stand, so it’s important to give them regular feedback. Doug says even great monetary rewards will not make up for lack of praise. You can use simple expressions and gestures to show your employees that you appreciate them. According to Doug, you should tailor how you give recognition and appreciation to each of your different employees.

Make praise a priority and watch how morale and motivation soar. If you need help tailoring a solution for your workforce, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-669-7746.

All About Grandfathered Health Plans

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

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

GrandfatherGrandfathered status is a designation with great significance because grandfathered plans are exempt from certain requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Though most employers understand the term, questions remain about the exceptions to grandfathered status when it comes to healthcare reform.

What Qualifies As Grandfathered Status?

A grandfathered health plan is one in which the plan has not made significant changes to the benefits provided since March 23, 2010 (the PPACA enactment date). This includes the cost-sharing provisions, even if the plan design has not changed. Any plan that has more than a 5 percent cost adjustment for the employee loses grandfathered status.

A plan will lose grandfathered status if any of the following occurs:

  • Elimination of a benefit that treats a particular condition.
  • An increase in a percentage cost-sharing requirement (i.e., coinsurance), regardless of the amount.
  • An increase in a deductible or out-of-pocket maximum by more than 15 percent (plus medical inflation).
  • An increase in co-payment that exceeds the greater of $5 (adjusted for medical inflation) or medical inflation plus 15 percentage points.
  • A decrease in the employer contribution rate toward the cost of any tier of coverage by more than 5 percentage points.

How Does A Grandfathered Health Plan Differ?

Grandfathered plans are exempt from certain market reform requirements, including: preventive care mandates; internal and external review; nondiscrimination based on income; choice of provider; emergency care at in-network rates; clinical trial coverage; cost-sharing and deductible maximums; guaranteed issue and renewal; and rating restrictions.

Grandfathered health plans are not exempt from requirements related to annual and lifetime limits, they are not required to offer dependent coverage to age 26, they are not limited in their rescission of coverage or pre-existing condition exclusions, they are not subject to new waiting period limits, employer mandates and many new tax provisions.

Grandfathered Status Annual Notification

Employers have an annual requirement to notify participants regarding their grandfathered status. The notice must include a statement that the plan is believed to have grandfathered status and contact information for an employee who has questions or complaints. A notice must be provided in any plan materials describing benefits for participants or beneficiaries. Generally, this includes a Summary Plan Description (SPD), a Summary of Material Modification (SMM) or benefit enrollment materials.

If a plan is grandfathered, any changes to plan design should be compared to what the plan’s terms were as of March 23, 2010. A plan will not lose its grandfathered status if insurance carriers or third-party administrators are changed, which was a later amendment to the grandfathered rules issued for insured policies that changed carriers on or after Nov. 15, 2010. It is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain grandfathered status. Most plan sponsors who have a grandfathered plan are aware of that fact and are familiar with the requirements to maintain that status. However, it is possible that a plan that was previously believed to be grandfathered could lose that status due to a seemingly minor change in plan design.

Hill, Chesson & Woody can help your business understand some of the more complex details of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. For more detail, visit the healthcare reform section of our website..

Hemera Technologies / Thinkstock

Fight Back Against Workplace Negativity

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

positive negative workplaceOur environment has a significant impact on our mindset.  Think about the last time you were around a group of positive people having a discussion.  Chances are the topics included reasons for hope, giving people the benefit of the doubt, expecting the best and good things that are happening in the world.

How did you feel during and after that interaction?  Energized?  Excited?  Like everything was going to work out well?

Now…think about the last time you were around a negative discussion.  Maybe it was a group of people gossiping or finding the worst in people, or complaining about work, home, their commute or life in general.  You may have initially tried to resist it, but the conversation sucked you right in.

How did you feel during and after that interaction?  Defeated?  Disgusted?  Like everything is a waste of time?

Negativity seems to have the ability to sneak in and overtake our brain and our feelings.  It’s hard to see positive outcomes when negativity takes over.

And it can be especially difficult to overcome negativity in the workplace in modern times when the negative news can outweigh the positive and we all seem to be busier than ever, yet feel that we are not getting any further ahead.

That’s one of the key reasons we invited Steve Gilliland to be the keynote speaker at our 50th Anniversary Celebration Luncheon on October 23, 2013 at the North Ridge Country Club in Raleigh.  Steve is one of the highest-rated speakers we’ve ever had at our annual HR Management Conference.  In fact, he was so great at our 2009 event that a large number of attendees asked us to bring him back in 2010…and we did.  And again, he hit it out of the park.

Steve’s ability to mix an inspirational message with real life experiences and practical tips for getting the most out of every aspect of life is one of the reasons he was inducted into the National Speakers Association Speaker Hall of Fame last year.

So if negativity is a problem in your workplace and you’d like some tips on how to deal with it, while also helping us celebrate 50 years serving North Carolina employers, please join us for our 50th Anniversary Celebration Luncheon. Steve will inspire you and make sure you are ready to fight the evil forces of workplace negativity!

For more information and to register, please go to

Photo Source: Victor1558

Free eBook Gives Organizations Advice on Employee Relations from Hiring to Firing

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

ebook_1_2013Employees are a critical factor in determining whether your organization and its various departments will meet your business goals. Who you recruit to join the organization is just as important as who you decide to let go from the organization.

Finding the right employees for your new positions and managing your current employees well will help you build a company that can survive difficult economic environments and confront new business challenges head on.

CAI is providing employers a free eBook aimed at helping them make informed decisions on the hiring and firing practices at their organizations. The eBook Hiring and Firing: Hello, Goodbye & Everything in Between is a resource of several articles that include tips and information for job seekers and employers on finding a match that will enable both groups to flourish.

The following are some of the chapters included in this eBook:

•Social Media for Job Hunters

•Turn a Poor Interview to Your Advantage

•A Good Termination

•The Single Question Interview

•You Owe It to Each Other

If you are a CAI member, you can download the free eBook directly here:

If you’d like to download the eBook but you are not a CAI member, please visit here and submit your request:

CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team is another resource for receiving guidance around good employer practices for recruiting employees and also letting employees go. Contact a team member at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

NC Unemployment Law—Guidelines and Recommendations for Correctly Filing Attached Claims

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

In Tuesday’s blog post, George Ports, CAI’s Senior Executive in Government Relations and Senior Advisor on CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team, imparted important information about North Carolina’s Unemployment Law dealing with attached claims. Check out part 1 here: Read part 2, which focuses on guidelines and recommendations for filing attached claims, below.

George PortsProcedures for Filing Attached Claims

  • Claims are filed electronically.
  • Employer files are created by the DES for attached claims.
  • The employer will receive an electronic response from the DES with the amount necessary to cover the cost of the attached claims (amount will only be for the projected number of weeks necessary).
  • If the employer’s filing efforts are rejected due to a negative balance, a box “click here to make payment” appears and an amount should be displayed necessary to bring the employer’s account to zero and payment amount necessary to cover for the cost of the attached claims.

If employer is unsuccessful with the electronic filing, the DES tax department should be contacted.

  • Once the employer’s file is created, the employer at the end of each week, opens the file and confirms or edits the number of hours worked and wages earned for that week so that the DES can calculate the amount of eligible unemployment benefits due to the employee.

(All payments to the DES for attached claims can be made by “e-checks” or by credit cards.)


Recommendations/ Options for Employers

Due to the limitations of one claim per year per employee and the requirement that each claim filed satisfy a week’s waiting period.

  • If slow periods of work are anticipated, reduce the hours of the regular scheduled work week (example: 40 hours to 32 hours—60% of 32 = 19.2 hours.  Employees who work at least this amount would not be eligible for attached claims but would receive some wages.  The use of attached claims would be reserved for unexpected downturns when it is necessary to implement a temporary reduction in force).  Reduced regular work weeks should be for a significant consecutive period.
  • Employers could delay filing attached claims until multiple weeks of downturns are expected. 
  • If attached claims have been exhausted and subsequent reductions in force are necessary, permanently lay off employees with the understanding that if they are recalled, they will be paid a signing bonus (This is an incentive for employees to return even if they have secured other employment).



The following is an excerpt from Assistant Secretary of Commerce Dale Folwell’s memorandum dated September 13, 2013 giving an update on complying with House Bill 4 including another option for employees and employers in light of the restrictions placed on attached claims:

Attached Claims Update

An employee whose employer will not be filing attached claims may file a claim for themselves.

Employees must meet the following requirements:

• File the initial claim and then file weekly certifications for each week benefits are requested.

• Report all earnings and payments.

• Be able and available for work during each week filed.

• Be actively seeking work during each week filed (regardless of hours worked).

Further information is provided in: NCUI 517Z: Information about Unemployment Insurance for Totally Separated Workers (located at The NC Division of Employment Security understands that the employee is not “TOTALLY SEPARATED”, however for any week an individual files a claim for unemployment benefits, DES must determine whether the requirements listed above are met.

Employers will be sent a Form NCUI 500AB each time an individual files a claim for unemployment insurance benefits. Employers are responsible for providing accurate information to include: layoff and return to work dates and; the correct reason why the individual is not working (including temporary layoff). Incorrect responses such as (still employed) can delay benefit payments to temporarily laid off individuals.


For more information on NC’s Unemployment Law and other updates in state and federal laws, make sure to attend the 2013 Triad Employment Law Update on November 5 at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro. Knowledgeable attorneys from Constangy, Brooks and Smith, LLP will provide you with information on several topics, including: wage and hour; I-9 compliance; immigration; off-duty conduct; health care reform; hiring practices; terminations; and the NLRB. Visit to register and find detailed information on conference presentations.

NC Unemployment Law—What You Need to Know About Attached Claims

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

In today’s post, George Ports, CAI’s Senior Executive in Government Relations and Senior Advisor on CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team, shares pertinent information about North Carolina’s new unemployment law that deals with attached claims. Check out part 1 of the article below.

George PortsNorth Carolina’s new unemployment law was passed in the 2013 Session of the North Carolina General Assembly.  The new law (H4) was necessary to repay the $2.8 billion dollar unemployment debt owed to the federal government.  The interest alone on this debt for 2012 was $84 million.  Although necessary, the new law created pain points for employers and employees.  One of the primary pain points is the restrictive provisions placed on the use of “attached claims”. “Attached claims” are filed by employers for employees during periods of short work weeks (less than 60% of employees’ regularly scheduled work week) and temporary reductions in force. These restrictions coupled with the new requirement that each unemployment claim requires a one week waiting period have caused employers to review their “attached claims” strategies for future down turns in work.

The following information includes highlights of the new regulation:

New “Attached Claims” Regulations

Effective June 30th, 2013

Attached claims may be filed by an employer for employees if the employer has a positive credit balance.  If the employer does not have a positive credit balance the employer must make payment to the DES (Division of Employment Security) to bring the balance up to zero.  Other attached claims provisions are as follows:

  • Attached claims are limited to one time per employee per benefit year.
  • The duration of attached claims is limited to six consecutive weeks.
  • The employer must submit payment to the DES in an amount that will cover the cost for attached claims when claims are filed.
  • Claims filed prior to June 30th establish a WBA (weekly benefit amount) subject to the maximum WBA of $535.  If the WBA is established and subsequent claims are filed after June 30th, claims will be paid subject to that maximum, however, all other provisions of the new law are in effect including a one week waiting period for each claim filed (even though a week’s waiting period was satisfied prior to June 30th) and the six week limited duration.
  • Claims filed on or after June 30th are subject to all provisions of the new law including the new maximum WBA of $350.

Come back for part 2 of the article this Thursday, September 12. George will give procedures for filing attached claims and recommendations/options regarding how to manage them. The information is intended to assist employers as they revisit their “attached claims” strategies.

Don’t Miss CAI’s 2013 Compensation and Benefits Conference This Month

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

2013C+B_Flash3 cropNorth Carolina employers are experiencing a business landscape that is constantly changing. The economy is improving slowly and new challenges, such as health care reform and a shortage of top talent, bring new obstacles to organizations.

Companies that want to offer their employees competitive benefits that are within their budgets may be facing dilemmas. CAI is here to help! Please join us for the 2013 Compensation and Benefits Conference on September 19th and September 20th at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh to receive recommendations for the tough decisions you’ll be making throughout the year.

The conference will feature four keynote presentations:

Health Care Reform, Exchanges and Defined Contribution Medical Plans…WHAT’S THE BUZZ?
Tracy Watts – Mercer

HR Strategies for a More Engaged Workforce
Dr. Bob Nelson – Nelson Motivation, Inc.

Surprise Your Employees with Praise and Appreciation
Rich Schlentz – EXTRAordinary! Inc.

2013 Marketplace Trends for Salaries and Benefits in NC
Molly Hegeman, Director, HR Services – CAI


In addition to the keynotes, the conference will have three different sequences of breakout sessions: health care, how-to, and advanced HR. Some of the topics include:

The Affordable Care Act: What You Need to Know
Sandy Reynolds – Associated Industries of Massachusetts

How to Identify Employees vs. Independent Contractors and Other Wage and Hour Regulations
Randy Bazemore – Horizon Labor Law Specialist, Inc.

Innovative Benefits for Different Generations
Dr. Bob Nelson – Nelson Motivation, Inc.

Creating and Implementing Career Frameworks – Ways to Improve Employee Motivation and Meet Business Needs
Angelita Becom & Robin Kegerise – Sibson Consulting

How to Give PROPS to Your Employees
Robin Miller & Jeannine Chignell – BCBSNC

Healthcare Reform Decision Stampede: What have your employees herd?
Joy Binkley & W. Hunter Walton, JD – HCW Benefit Services

You’ll also have the opportunity to network with more than 200 HR professionals who are responsible for compensation and benefits plans and strategies at their companies.  Find more information on conference presenters and session topics at Register today!

Salary Increases from NC Employers Remain Flat According to 2013 Wage & Salary Survey

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

wage and salary coverData from CAI’s 2013 Wage & Salary Survey reveals that on average North Carolina employers are reporting an increase in base pay of 2.4 percent, which includes facilities giving zero percent, or 3.1 percent, which excludes facilities giving zero percent.

CAI has conducted its annual Wage & Salary Survey for more than 20 years, and its Survey Team remains dedicated to providing the most comprehensive and in-depth survey conducted of North Carolina employers. More than 521 unique organizations participated in this year’s survey.

Increases Remain Flat

There has been a gradual rebound regarding average salary increases since 2009. According to CAI’s survey team, increases this year slightly dipped compared to those from last year. Although companies are reporting increases to employee salaries, the percentage of the increase remains flat.

 Employer Pay Practices

The survey shows that 65 percent of participating facilities have a formal salary structure, and just over half of participating facilities adjust their salary range structure every 12 months. More than half of the participating companies indicated that their pay philosophy is to pay at market rate, but results are mixed regarding their investment in compensation and/or benefits.

Trends in Base Pay

Because of a poor economy starting in the fall of 2008, many employers began to freeze salaries. Since 2009 base pay increases have steadily rebounded, although conservatively. The percentage of organizations giving zero percent increases to exempt and nonexempt hourly employees has also steadily declined from about 48 percent in 2009 to about 19 percent this year.

5-Year Salary Analysis

New for this year’s report is the inclusion of salary trends spanning 5 years for all jobs included in the survey. The survey team collected the trend data from the information provided in the Wage & Salary Surveys from 2009 to 2013. Positive/negative percent changes from 2012 to 2013 and from 2009 to 2013 are provided.

CAI is the premier provider of comprehensive survey data on the pay, policies and benefits provided by NC employers. The 2013 Wage & Salary Survey is available for purchase. Please visit our online store here: For questions regarding the Wage & Salary Survey, please contact the CAI Survey Team at