Category Archives: Benefits

First Class Tickets—Perks and Library Management

Source: Robert P. Holley, Journal of Library Administration, Volume 61 no. 1, 2021
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
A case study presents a public library director who has traveled lavishly with library funding to the annual American Library Conference while three librarians with professional obligations did not receive support. The initial analysis concludes that she did nothing illegal or even unethical and presents reasons why her expenditures may be less troubling than they seem. Nonetheless, she behaved unwisely because her actions may have a negative effect upon employee morale and her relationship with the community. The general principle for all library managers should be to evaluate the necessity of professional travel, especially to attractive locations, and to make sure that an administrator is the appropriate person to represent the library. Beyond travel, administrators should not be exempt from cost saving measures because of the current pandemic. One additional complication is a differing judgment between the administrator and staff about what is a perk and what is an obligation.

State Employee Health Insurance: Assessing the Scale of State Purchasing Power

Source: John Kaelin, Jim DeWan, Rockefeller Institute of Government, December 2020

From the introduction: https://rockinst.org/issue-area/state-employee-health-insurance-assessing-the-scale-of-state-purchasing-power/
Across the nation, state governments are major purchasers of health insurance for their employees. According to the US Census Bureau, 100 percent of state governments offered health insurance benefits to their employees in 2018. The Census Bureau further reported that state governments provided health insurance benefits to 67.6 percent of their 5.4 million employees in 2018. This total of approximately 3.7 million employees does not include the number of dependents, retirees, or enrollees of local governments, and other public employers that also participate in states’ health insurance programs. In 2012, based on a report published by Pew Charitable Trusts and MacArthur Foundation, total spending exceeded $30 billion covering 2.7 million households.

Between employee benefits and Medicaid programs, states’ spending on health insurance represents a major budgetary item. In 2018, the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that health insurance spending for all state and local governments totaled $433.6 billion and that spending has experienced an average annual increase of 3.9 percent over the past five years. In Fiscal Year 2019-20, the state of New York itself spent $22.1 billion on Medicaid and $4.3 billion on employee and retiree health insurance costs. To alleviate these escalating costs, some states have examined options to coordinate purchasing across state programs in an attempt to achieve economies of scale. Recently, California proposed policies to leverage their purchasing of prescription drugs by combining employee health insurance programs with other state programs such as Medicaid and Correctional Health.

The purpose of this policy brief is to examine the extent to which the states in their role of purchasers drive the evolution of the healthcare delivery system. This brief examines the availability of basic financial and cost data relating to state employee insurance programs. It assesses the scale of state health insurance purchasing using existing data and presents results from a preliminary survey of states. We also review the degree to which employee purchasing decisions are coordinated with other state health policy purchasing goals such as Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance marketplaces.

Public Work Provides Economic Security for Black Families and Communities

Source: Michael Madowitz, Anne Price, and Christian E. Weller, Center for American Progress, October 23, 2020

….
Public sector jobs provide economic security for Black households

Public jobs provide good wages, better benefits, and greater job security, all of which are critical components of economic security and help families build wealth. Moreover, the wealth gap in the public sector is much smaller. For example, in the private sector, white households have as much as $10 of wealth for each $1 Black households hold; in the public sector white households hold closer to $2 for every $1 of wealth for Black families.

Public employment can provide greater economic security for Black workers for several reasons:

  • Public sector hiring is more accountable to citizen influence than private sector hiring, providing stronger checks on employment discrimination.
  • Public sector jobs are more likely to provide a defined benefit pension, which guarantees lifetime benefits upon retirement.
  • Public sector jobs offer more stable employment, providing economic security otherwise available only to households with wealth.
  • Public sector jobs are more likely to be unionized. Unionized jobs are highly beneficial to workers, and Black workers in particular.

Health Benefits In 2020: Premiums In Employer-Sponsored Plans Grow 4 Percent; Employers Consider Responses To Pandemic

Source: Gary Claxton, Anthony Damico, Matthew Rae, Gregory Young, Daniel McDermott, and Heidi Whitmore, Health Affairs, Vol. 39 no. 11, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The annual Kaiser Family Foundation Employer Health Benefits Survey is the benchmark survey of the cost and coverage of employer-sponsored health benefits in the United States. The 2020 survey was designed and largely fielded before the full extent of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic had been felt by employers. Data collection took place from mid-January through July, with half of the interviews being completed in the first three months of the year. Most of the key metrics that we measure—including premiums and cost sharing—reflect employers’ decisions made before the full impacts of the pandemic were felt. We found that in 2020 the average annual premium for single coverage rose 4 percent, to $7,470, and the average annual premium for family coverage also rose 4 percent, to $21,342. Covered workers, on average, contributed 17 percent of the cost for single coverage and 27 percent of the cost for family coverage. Fifty-six percent of firms offered health benefits to at least some of their workers, and 64 percent of workers were covered at their own firm. Many large employers reported having “very broad” provider networks, but many recognized that their largest plan had a narrower network for mental health providers.

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.