Newly Adopted Wage Equity Laws

Newly Adopted Wage Equity Laws

By GBS Team

In an effort to close the wage gap that exists between male and female employees, a number of states and major cities have recently adopted wage equity and salary history laws. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, the average female employee earned 80 cents for every dollar a man received during the same period. Statistics suggest the gap may be even greater for ethnic or racial minority employees.

When applicable, employers must comply with their state and local laws in addition to the Federal Equal Pay Act. When both federal and local laws differ, the law that provides the greater protection or benefit to the employee applies.

Action Steps for Employers

Affected employers should:

  • Eliminate prohibited salary history inquiries.
  • Update job applications and other employment forms to comply with pay equity laws.
  • Train recruiters and hiring managers regarding applicable pay equity laws.

Applicable Federal Laws

In addition to the state and local laws mentioned above, employers should be aware of the following federal laws that regulate employment discrimination and other aspects of the hiring and employment processes.

The Equal Pay Act (EPA) requires that men and women receive equal pay for equal work.

Covered Employers and Employees: Virtually all employers and employees.

Requirements: Employers are required to pay equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender. Men and woman in substantially equal jobs, those requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility and performed under similar conditions at the same workplace, must be paid equally.

Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibit compensation discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability. There is no requirement that the jobs be substantially equal.

Covered Employers and Employees: Title VII and ADA, all employers with 15 or more employees. ADEA, all employers with 20 or more employees.

Executive Order 11246 prohibits discrimination in employment decisions based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin.

Covered Employers and Employees: Federal contractors and federally assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, who do over $10,000 in government business in one year.

New SBC Template Required for 2018 Open Enrollment

New SBC Template

By GBS Team

New SBC Template Required for 2018 Open Enrollment

The updated template and related materials for the summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) are required for annual open enrollment periods beginning on or after April 1, 2017. For calendar year plans, this means that the updated template must be used for the 2018 open enrollment period.

Employers should do the following to prepare for the new SBC template and related materials for the 2018 open enrollment period.

•  Self-funded plan sponsors should ensure that they are using the new template.

  Employers with insured plans should make sure the carrier is providing the correct version of the template.

Contact Group Benefits Strategies with any questions about preparing for your 2018 open enrollment period.

Court Orders EEOC to Reconsider Wellness Rules

Court Orders EEOC
to Reconsider Wellness Rules

By GBS Team

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has directed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to reconsider its final wellness rules under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has directed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to reconsider its final wellness rules under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). The final rules allow employers to offer wellness incentives of up to 30 percent of the cost of health plan coverage. The court held that the EEOC failed to provide a reasonable explanation for adopting the incentive limit. Rather than vacating the final rules, the court sent them back to the EEOC for reconsideration.

It is unclear how the EEOC will respond to the court’s decision. Due to this new legal uncertainty, employers should carefully consider the level of incentives they use with their wellness programs.
Employers should also monitor any developments related to the EEOC’s rules.

Final Wellness Rules

Federal laws affect the design of wellness programs, including two laws that are enforced by the EEOC—the ADA and GINA.

For many years, the EEOC did not definitively address whether incentives to participate in wellness programs are permissible under the ADA and, if so, in what amount. Earlier this year, the EEOC issued long-awaited final rules, but the court has now remanded the final wellness rules back to the agency for reconsideration.

Group Benefits Strategies will keep you updated with any developments on this matter. In the meantime, please contact your representative with any questions about how these rules may affect you.

Medicare Part D Notices Due

Medicare Part D Notices Due by Oct. 14, 2017

By GBS Staff

Each year, Medicare Part D requires group health plan sponsors to disclose to individuals eligible for Medicare Part D and to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) whether the health plan’s prescription drug coverage is creditable. Plan sponsors must provide the annual disclosure notice to Medicare-eligible individuals before Oct. 15, 2017—the start date of the annual enrollment period for Medicare Part D. CMS has provided model disclosure notices for employers to use.

This notice is important because Medicare beneficiaries who are not covered by creditable prescription drug coverage and who choose not to enroll in Medicare Part D when first eligible will likely pay higher premiums if they enroll at a later date. Although there are no specific penalties associated with this notice requirement, failing to provide the notice may trigger adverse employee relations issues.

Employers should confirm whether their health plans’ prescription drug coverage is creditable or non-creditable and prepare to send their Medicare Part D disclosure notices by Oct. 14, 2017. To make the process easier, employers who send out open enrollment packets prior to Oct. 15 often include the Medicare Part D notices in these packets.

Model Notices

CMS has provided two model notices for employers to use. One is a Model Creditable Coverage Disclosure Notice for when the health plan’s prescription drug coverage is creditable and another for when it is not creditable.

Method of Delivering Notices

Plan sponsors have flexibility in how they must provide their creditable coverage disclosure notices. The disclosure notices can be provided separately, or if certain conditions are met, they can be provided with other plan participant materials, like annual open enrollment materials. The notices can also be sent electronically in some instances.

For more information on Medicare Part D notices, please contact your Group Benefits Strategies representative.

 

Federal Court Strikes Down 2016 Overtime Rule

Federal Court Strikes Down 2016 Overtime Rule

By GBS

GBS has been providing expert health insurance consulting to municipalities and businesses for over 25 years.
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Overview

On Aug. 31, 2017, a federal judge in Texas struck down the Department of Labor’s (DOL) 2016 overtime rule, stating that the DOL had exceeded its authority by issuing a new salary level requirement for white collar exempt employees.

The DOL is unlikely to appeal this court decision because the ruling does not put into question the DOL’s general authority to set any type of salary limit.

However, the DOL has also signaled its intention to propose a new overtime rule. The DOL has published a request for information (RFI) to invite the public to comment on the issues the DOL should consider before proposing a new overtime rule.

Action Needed

Employers are not required to comply with the 2016 overtime final rule. This ruling ensures that the rule will not take effect. Employers should monitor developments on a new overtime rule proposal.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage and overtime pay protections for many workers in the United States. However, the FLSA exempts certain workers, such as white collar employees, from these protections. The white collar exemptions apply to certain executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, computer and highly compensated employees.

To qualify for the executive, administrative or professional (EAP) exemption, an employee must meet a salary basis test, a salary level test and a duties test. The DOL’s 2016 overtime rule would have increased the required salary level from $455 per week ($23,660 per year) to $913 per week ($47,476 per year). Highly compensated employees (HCEs) must also satisfy the salary basis and duties tests to be considered exempt, but a different salary level applies to them. The DOL rule would have increased the required salary level for highly compensated employees from $100,000 per year to $134,004 per year.

In September 2016, a coalition of 21 states and a number of business groups filed two separate lawsuits challenging the new rule. These two lawsuits were combined in October. On Nov. 16, 2016, the court held a hearing on whether to grant an emergency injunction blocking the implementation of the rule. The judge presiding over the case issued his written ruling granting the injunction on Nov. 22, 2016.

On Aug. 31, 2017, the same federal court struck down the 2016 overtime rule stating that the DOL exceeded its authority when imposing the $913 per week ($47,476 per year) and $134,004 per year salary level limits.

On July 26, 2017, the DOL published an RFI regarding the overtime exemptions for executive, administrative, professional, outside sales and computer employees. The purpose of the RFI is to gather information from the public before formulating a proposal to amend the FLSA or its regulations.

The RFI does not place any responsibilities on employers. However, any individual or organization interested in responding to the RFI must submit their comments to the DOL by Sept. 25, 2017. The DOL is encouraging individuals and organizations to submit their comments electronically, using the instructions in the Federal eRulemaking Portal.

When submitting a comment, employers should remember that, once submitted, comments are considered public records and will be published without editing. This includes any personal information provided.

Please contact Group Benefits Strategies for more information regarding current overtime rules, compliance with the FLSA or the RFI on overtime regulations.

Highlights

• A federal court struck down the 2016 overtime rule that was supposed to take effect on December 1, 2016.
• The salary level limit for EAP employees remains at $455 per week or $23,660 per year.
• The salary level limit for HCE’s remains at $100,000 per year.

Important Dates

November 22, 2016

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the overtime rule.

August 31, 2017

The final rule was struck down.

Compliance Bulletin

GBS Benefits Insights

New Form I-9 Released for Use in September ContactHome

Overview

On July 17, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, issued an updated version of Form I-9: Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9). Under federal law, every employer that recruits, refers for a fee or hires an individual for employment in the United States must complete a Form I-9.

The updated form replaces a version that was issued in 2016. Employers may continue using the 2016 form until Sept. 17, 2017. Exclusive use of the updated form is expected by Sept. 18, 2017. The new form expires on Aug. 31, 2019.

 

Action Steps

  • Employers must become familiar with the new Form I-9 and transition to its exclusive use by Sept. 18, 2017.
  • Employers must continue their compliance with collecting and retaining Form I-9.
  • Employers may download the 2017 Form I-9from the USCIS website.

Field Changes and Updates

The changes made by USCIS include revisions to the instructions and to the list of acceptable documents.

Revisions to Instructions Revisions to List of Acceptable Documents
·  USCIS changed the name of the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices to its new name, Immigrant and Employee Rights Section.

·  USCIS removed “the end of” from the phrase “the first day of employment.”

·  USCIS added the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) to List C. Employers completing Form I-9 on a computer will be able to select Form FS-240 from the drop-down menus available in List C of Section 2 and Section 3. E-verify users will also be able to select Form FS-240 when creating a case for an employee who has presented this document for Form I-9.

·  USCIS combined all the certifications of report of birth issued by the Department of State (Form FS-545, Form DS-1350 and Form FS-240) into selection C#2 in List C.

·  USCIS renumbered all List C documents except the Social Security card. For example, the employment authorization document issued by the Department of Homeland Security on List C will change from List C #8 to List C #7.

Source: USCIS

More Information

Please visit the USCIS website for more information regarding USCIS or the new Form I-9.