Category Archives: Benefits

State and Local Government Pension Funding on the Eve of the COVID-19 Recession

Source: John G. Kilgour, Compensation & Benefits Review, OnlineFirst, August 5, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article examines the funding of public pension plans through 2019. Particular attention is paid to the impact of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board’s Standard No. 68. It addressed (1) discount rates, (2) amortization periods, (3) asset valuation and smoothing, and (4) the actuarial cost method used. The combined effect of these measures has been to increase the amount of public pension underfunding significantly. The actuarial funded ratio of the 126 plans in the Public Plans Database went from 101.9 in 2001 to 71.9 in 2019, on the eve of the COVID-19 recession. It will no doubt continue to worsen in the years ahead. The extent of that likely worsening is also explored.

Do Pensions Matter for Recruiting State and Local Workers?

Source: Laura D. Quinby, Geoffrey T. Sanzenbacher, State and Local Government Review, OnlineFirst, Published August 7, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Many state and local governments have responded to financial challenges facing their pension systems by cutting benefits or by shifting costs to employees. Will these changes make it harder for state and local governments to recruit highly skilled workers? This study explores this question by linking individual-level data from the Current Population Survey on worker transitions between the private and public sectors to measures of state and local pension generosity from the Public Plans Database. The results suggest that state and local employers with relatively generous pensions are better able to recruit high-wage workers from the private sector, but that this advantage is lost as workers are asked to contribute more from current paychecks to prefund those benefits. The findings help inform an ongoing debate over the role that state and local pensions play in shaping the public workforce.

How the Coronavirus Pandemic Will Change the Way We Work

Source: Theresa Agovino, Susan Ladika, Lisa Rabasca Roepe, Joanne Sammer and Rita Zeidner, HR Magazine, Summer 2020

…To assist HR professionals in a post-coronavirus world, we asked HR practitioners and other experts what lessons have been learned during the pandemic and what lasting impacts it will have on the way we work. From remote work to health benefits, employee morale to disaster planning, HR professionals are determined to help their organizations forge a new way forward. …

Collective Bargaining in the Aftermath of COVID-19

Source: Henry E. Farber and Nicole Mormilo, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 46, No. 2, Autumn 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The authors identify and explore issues stemming from COVID-19 that they expect to arise during labor negotiations. Those issues include: Management rights; Economics; Employer flexibility to adjust workforce; Benefits; Employee health and safety; and Force majeure clauses.

FAQs Clarify COVID-19 Testing and Diagnosis Requirements for Employer Health Plans

Source: Timothy J. Stanton and Kristine M. Bingman, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 46, No. 2, Autumn 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article reviews the key subjects covered by a federal guidance exploring requirements under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Emerging From the COVID-19 Pandemic: Returning Employees and Benefits Considerations

Source: Mark E. Bokert and Alan Hahn, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 46, No. 2, Autumn 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
…This column addresses some of the key legal considerations employers should keep in mind as they review their plan documents in preparation for bringing employees back from leave or layoffs. In addition, it addresses certain areas of benefits that employers may want to reconsider post-pandemic in order to properly incentivize employees.

COVID-19: What Every Employer Should Keep in Mind

Source: Rikki A. Sapolich-Krol, Samantha M. Beatty, and Briana M. Swift, Benefits Law Journal, Vol. 33, No. 2, Summer 2020
(subscription required)


From the abstract:
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic uncertainty, many employers and employees alike are searching for ways to be financially prepared in the weeks and months to come. This article highlights what employers should keep front-of-mind when making decisions regarding their retirement plans, health and welfare plans, and other compensation agreements, plans, and arrangements.

Employees’ Refusals to Participate in an Employer-Sponsored Wellness Program: Barriers and Benefits to Engagement

Source: Evan K. Perrault, Grace M. Hildenbrand, Rachel HeeJoon Rnoh, OnlineFirst Published January 7, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
While worksite wellness programs are generally designed to help employees realize better overall health, some employees may not see them in that light. The current study sought to better understand why employees refuse to participate in a new employer-sponsored wellness program. This study also investigated how participation in the program is related to employees’ self-perceived health, efficacy to be healthier and their perceptions toward their organization providing useful resources to engage in a healthy lifestyle. A survey of more than 1,500 employees at a large Midwest organization was conducted after their annual open-enrollment period. Open-ended responses from participants refusing to participate in the wellness program (n = 297) indicated privacy considerations as their primary concern. They also thought participation would take too much time, conceptually thought the program was unfair or not useful and felt they were already healthy and not in need of the program. Both participants and nonparticipants had no differences in self-perceived overall health. However, participants had greater self-efficacy, and perceptions that their employer offered useful resources to engage in a healthy lifestyle, than nonparticipants. Recommendations for communicating new wellness programs to employees are discussed.

Employers Seek New Strategies For Dealing With Health Care Cost Increases

Source: Employment Alert, Volume 36, Issue 23, November 12, 2019
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Curbing the cost of health care and increasing its affordability remain the top priorities for almost all employers over the next three years (93%), according to the Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey by Willis Towers Watson. Yet nearly two in three (63%) employers see health care affordability as the most difficult challenge to tackle over that same period.

Employers expect health care cost increases of 4.9%* in 2020 compared with 4.0% in 2019. Despite this cost increase, 95% of employees are very confident their organization will continue to sponsor health care benefits to active employees in five years. Moreover, employers’ longer-term commitment to sponsoring these benefits 10 years from now hit 74%, the highest level in the past decade. The rising cost of health care puts financial pressure not only on employers, but also their employees. In fact 89% of employers believe rising health care costs are a significant source of financial stress for their employees.

Union workers more likely than nonunion workers to have retirement benefits in 2019

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, TED: The Economics Daily, October 25, 2019

Ninety-four percent of civilian union workers and 67 percent of nonunion workers had access to retirement benefits through their employer in March 2019. Access means the benefit is available to employees, regardless of whether they chose to participate. Eighty-five percent of union workers and 51 percent of nonunion workers participated in an employer-sponsored retirement benefit plan. The take-up rate—the share of workers with access who participate in the plan—was 90 percent for union workers and 77 percent for nonunion workers.