Category Archives: Benefits

Significant New Transition Relief Set Forth in Final ACA Shared Responsibility Regulations

Source: Timothy B. Collins, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 40 no. 1, Summer 2014
(subscription required)

The final regulations acknowledge that the application of the shared responsibility provisions of the Affordable Care Act will involve changes for applicable large employers that did not previously offer coverage, or that did not offer affordable minimum value coverage.

What the ACA Means for Negotiating Employee Welfare Benefits

Source: Shannon M. Gibson and Joan B. Tucker Fife, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 40 no. 1, Summer 2014
(subscription required)

This article addresses the new challenges facing employers when managing their workforce, containing the rising costs associated with insurance coverage, and achieving timely compliance with the Patient Affordable Care Act.

State and Local Government Workforce: 2014 Trends

Source: Center for State and Local Government Excellence, May 2014

From the summary:
Local and state governments continue their hiring trend although their workforces are still smaller since the 2008 economic downturn; recruitment and retention continue to be challenges; and pressure on benefits continues, particularly health care.
This annual survey was conducted by the Center, International Public Management Association for Human Resources, and National Association of State Personnel Executives of human resource professionals. Two hundred ninety-eight (298) IPMA-HR and NASPE members took part in the survey, which was conducted in March and April 2014.
∙ 66 percent of respondents reported hiring employees in the past year.
∙ 55 percent reported hiring more than they did in 2012.
∙ One-third reported hiring contract or temporary workers.

At the same time, the pace of retirements quickened:
∙ 49 percent reported higher levels of retirement in 2013 than 2012.
∙ 22 percent reported employees had accelerated their retirement.

Changes to benefits continue:
∙ 61 percent reported their government made changes to health benefits for both active and retired employees.
∙ The most common changes were to shift more costs from the employer to employees (53 percent) and to institute wellness programs (31 percent).
∙ 35 percent reported their government altered retirement benefits over the last year.
∙ About one-fourth required increased contributions to pensions from both current and new employees.

Looking ahead, the majority of respondents say their top concerns are:
∙ recruiting and retaining qualified personnel
∙ staff development
∙ succession planning
∙ employee morale
∙ competitive compensation packages
∙ public perception of government workers
∙ reducing employee health care costs
∙ dealing with increased employee workloads

State and Local Government Finance: The New Fiscal Ice Age

Source: D. Roderick Kiewiet and Mathew D. McCubbins, Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 17, May 2014
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The Great Recession that began in late 2007 had devastating consequences for the fiscal health of state and local governments, and many remain in a precarious financial position. Several cities have declared bankruptcy, and more will do so in coming years. The future, however, promises no long-term relief. Due primarily to the aging population of the United States, state and local governments are allocating large and increasing shares of their budgets to expenditures on Medicaid and on retirement benefits that they have promised to their past and current employees. As these expenditures consume more of their budgets, there is less to spend on transportation, parks and recreation, education, public safety, and all the other services that these governments provide. We are thus experiencing the onset of a New Fiscal Ice Age, a period in which a given level of tax revenue purchases a considerably lower level of current services.
Research Findings

Perspectives: Immigrants and Retirement Resources

Source: Purvi Sevak and Lucie Schmidt, Social Security Administration, Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 74 No. 1, 2014

The extensive literature documenting differences in wages between immigrant and native-born workers suggests that immigrants may enter retirement at a significant financial disadvantage relative to workers born in the United States. However, little work has examined differences in retirement resources and retirement security between immigrants and natives. In this article, we use data from the Health and Retirement Study linked with restricted data from the Social Security Administration to compare retirement resources of immigrants and natives. Our results suggest that while immigrants have lower levels of Social Security benefits than natives, when holding demographic characteristics constant, immigrants have higher levels of net worth. The estimated immigrant differentials vary a great deal by number of years in the United States, with the most recent immigrants being the least prepared for retirement.

Health insurance premiums: comparing ACA exchange rates to the employer-based market

Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers, PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI), February 2014

From the abstract:
In 2014 the premiums for state exchange based health plans are comparable to — and in some cases lower than — those being offered by employers. The data suggest the new exchanges are competitive with the current insurance market and may open doors for employers as they contemplate future benefits strategies.

Worker Participation in Employer-Sponsored Pensions: A Fact Sheet

Source: John J. Topoleski, Congressional Research Service (CRS), CRS Report for Congress, R43439, March 26, 2014

This fact sheet provides data on the percentage of American workers who have access to and who participate in employer-sponsored pension plans. The data are from the National Compensation Survey (NCS), which is conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The NCS provides data on occupational earnings and the availability of employee benefits among U.S. workers.

Maternity and paternity at work: Law and practice across the world

Source: Laura Addati, Naomi Cassirer and Katherine Gilchrist, International Labour Organization (ILO), 978-92-2-128630-1[ISBN], 2014

From the summary:
This report provides a picture of where we stand and what we have learned so far about maternity and paternity rights across the world. It offers a rich international comparative analysis of law and practice relating to maternity protection at work in 185 countries and territories, comprising leave, cash benefits, employment protection and non-discrimination, health protection, breastfeeding arrangements at work and childcare. Expanding on previous editions, it is based on an extensive set of new legal and statistical indicators, including coverage in law and in practice of paid maternity leave as well as statutory provision of paternity and parental leave and their evolution over the last 20 years.

The report also takes account of the recent economic crisis and austerity measures. It shows how well national laws and practice conform to the ILO Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (No. 183), its accompanying Recommendation (No. 191) and the Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981 (No. 156), and offers guidance on policy design and implementation.

This report shows that a majority of countries have established legislation to protect and support maternity and paternity at work, even if those provisions do not always meet the ILO standards. One of the persistent challenges is the effective implementation of legislation, to ensure that all workers are able to benefit from these essential labour rights.
Maternity leave duration per country
Paternity leave duration per country
Maternity protection makes headway amid vast global gaps
Economic crisis lends unexpected support to families in some countries

Solving the Retirement Puzzle: The Potential of myRAs to Build a Personal Safety Net

Source: Reid Cramer, Justin King, Elliot Schreur, Aleta Sprague, New America Foundation, May 2014

From the summary:
The growing recognition that millions of Americans are ill-prepared for retirement has prompted a number of state and federal policy proposals to promote retirement security. Yet even the most promising proposals fail to acknowledge a prerequisite to sustaining long-term savings: access to flexible resources that can be tapped in an emergency or can support productive investments that can pay off over the long haul. One recently announced effort – the Obama Administration’s myRA program – is designed to facilitate access to a savings vehicles for the mostly low- and middle-income Americans who miss out on current savings opportunities. As currently designed, the program is unlikely to have a significant impact at scale on the long-term prospects of this group of workers. But with certain adjustments and policy reforms, myRAs could facilitate the creation of personal safety nets that would both provide short-term financial stability and lay the foundation for a secure retirement. Short-term, flexible savings are a crucial but overlooked piece required to solve the retirement puzzle.