Category Archives: Benefits

2013 Employee Benefits Research Report: An Overview of Employee Benefits Offerings in the U.S.

Source: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 2013

From the abstract:
SHRM’s 2013 Employee Benefits research report provides comprehensive information about the types of benefits U.S. employers offer to their employees. In 2013, almost 300 benefits were explored, covering health care and welfare benefits, preventive health and wellness benefits, retirement savings and planning benefits, financial and compensation benefits, leave benefits, family-friendly benefits, flexible working benefits, employee programs and services, professional and career development benefits, housing and relocation benefits, and business travel benefits. The report also examines trends in employee benefits offerings over the last five years.
See also:
Press Release
Executive Summary

Public Sector Pension Reform: Addressing Pressing Fiscal Realities from a Long-Term Perspective

Source: Thomas L. Gais, Paul J. Yakoboski, TIAA-CREF Institute and the Rockefeller Institute of Government, June 2013

From the press release:
A report released today by the TIAA-CREF Institute and the Rockefeller Institute of Government shares expert considerations for public sector pension reform. The new report —- Public Sector Pension Reform: Addressing Pressing Fiscal Realities from a Long-Term Perspective —- is a culmination of insights and experiences from state and local officials and researchers from across the nation
that highlights the issues and considerations impacting public sector pension reform….

The report highlights several key considerations for public pension reform, including:
• Pension reform should evaluate individual defined benefit and defined contribution plan elements and consider hybrid arrangements of both plan designs that leverage complementary characteristics of each;
• Pension reform must take into consideration changing lifestyle and workforce patterns and should be designed to enable the public sector to compete with private employers for top talent;
• Plan reform must consider both short-term fiscal challenges as well as long-term human resource trends and objectives. While underfunding issues must be addressed on a state-by-state basis, reform also needs to be considered from a national perspective.

Spotlight on Retiree Health Care Benefits for State Employees in 2013

Source: Joshua Franzel, Center for Excellence, and Alex Brown, Center for Excellence and NASRA, June 4, 2013

Key findings:
– Health care as a portion of overall public employee wage and benefit compensation has increased from 10 percent in 2004 to 12 percent in 2012.
– Fewer state government units offer retiree health care benefits now compared to ten years ago.
– Retiree health care obligations on a per capita basis vary widely among states.
– Unfunded retiree health care liabilities are concentrated in a minority of states: of all state retiree health care unfunded liabilities, 80 percent are attributable to 12 states.
– States use a variety of methods to reduce their retiree health care costs, most commonly shifting more costs to employees and retirees.

Trends in Health Coverage for Part-Time Workers

Source: Paul Fronstin, Employee Benefit Research Institute, EBRI Notes, Vol. 34, No. 5, May 2013

From the summary:
• The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) requires that employers with 50 or more full-time workers pay a penalty if they fail to provide health coverage to full-time workers in 2014, which has raised concern that employers may respond by cutting back on health coverage for part-time workers or by increasing the proportion of part-time workers employed.

• The recent recession has already resulted in an increased use of part-time workers: The percentage of workers employed part-time has been rising since 2007, increasing from 16.7 percent to 22.2 percent in 2011.

• Part-time workers have experienced a much larger decline in coverage than full-time workers. Between 2007 and 2011, full-time workers experienced a 2.8 percent reduction in the likelihood of having coverage from their own jobs, while part-time workers experienced a 15.7 percent decline.

No-Vacation Nation Revisited

Source: Rebecca Ray, Milla Sanes, and John Schmitt, Center for Economic and Policy Research, May 2013

From the abstract:
This report reviews the most recently available data from a range of national and international sources on statutory requirements for paid vacations and paid holidays in 21 rich countries (16 European countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States). In addition to our finding that the United States is the only country in the group that does not require employers to provide paid vacation time, we also note that several foreign countries offer additional time off for younger and older workers, shift workers, and those engaged in community service including jury duty. Five countries even mandate that employers pay vacationing workers a small premium above their standard pay in order to help with vacation-related expenses. Most other rich countries have also established legal rights to paid holidays over and above paid vacation days. We distinguish throughout the report between paid vacation ― or paid annual leave, terms we use interchangeably ― and paid holidays, which are organized around particular fixed dates in the calendar. Our analysis does not cover paid leave for other reasons such as sick leave, parental leave, or leave to care for sick relatives.

A Broken Bargain: Discrimination, Fewer Benefits and More Taxes for LGBT Workers

Source: Movement Advancement Project, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Center for American Progress, June 2013

From the summary:
The basic American bargain is that people who work hard and meet their responsibilities should be able to get ahead. This basic bargain is not just an idea—it is embedded in laws that promote equal access to jobs and that protect workers from unfair practices.

For workers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), this bargain is broken. Instead of having a fair chance to get ahead, LGBT workers and their families often are held back by bias, fewer workplace benefits, and higher taxes.

Employers who value diversity and who understand that it gives them a competitive advantage can take some steps to ease the burden of unfair treatment of LGBT workers and their families, but they can’t fix the broken bargain on their own. The reason: unequal treatment of LGBT workers under the law.

First, no federal law provides explicit nondiscrimination protections for LGBT workers, and fewer than half of states have laws that protect workers based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Second, LGBT workers may do the same job as their coworkers, yet be denied equal access to worker and family benefits—as well as family tax relief.

The combination of job discrimination, fewer benefits and higher taxes leaves many LGBT workers in a vulnerable position that threatens their ability to provide for themselves and their families. If fairness and equality are part of America’s basic workplace bargain, this bargain is clearly broken for LGBT worker.

Municipal hospital – Cities fund clinics to temper rising healthcare costs

Source: Derek Prall, American City and County, May 20, 2013

With the cost of health benefits for city workers and their families climbing, cities nation-wide are opening municipal healthcare facilities. To get a better understanding of the trend, American City & County spoke with three cities in Florida to see if the quest for publicly-funded, affordable health care is bearing fruit…

Why Are Retirement Benefits in the United States So Complicated? An Overview of How We Got Here

Source: John G. Kilgour, Compensation & Benefits Review, Vol. 45 no. 1, January/February 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Most of us focus on one or a few retirement income programs and a single retiree health benefit plan at a time, as benefit professionals, policy makers, current or future recipients of these benefits or scholars. We seldom step back and view the larger picture. We often see the trees and miss the forest. And in doing so, we also miss the extraordinary complexity and interrelatedness of the numerous laws and programs that comprise the U.S. retirement benefit structure. This article is an overview of retirement benefit laws and programs. It examines their origins, evolution and, to some extent, their current requirements. It portrays the collage of retirement benefits that now exists in an effort to provide perspective.

The Proportion of Work-Related Emergency Department Visits Not Expected to Be Paid by Workers’ Compensation: Implications for Occupational Health Surveillance, Research, Policy, and Health Equity

Source: Matthew R. Groenewold, Sherry L. Baron, Health Services Research, Article first published online: May 13, 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Objective: To examine trends in the proportion of work-related emergency department visits not expected to be paid by workers’ compensation during 2003–2006, and to identify demographic and clinical correlates of such visits.

Principal Findings; A substantial and increasing proportion of work-related emergency department visits in the United States were not expected to be paid by workers’ compensation. Private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, and workers themselves were expected to pay for 40 percent of the work-related emergency department visits with this percentage increasing annually. Work-related visits by blacks, in the South, to for-profit hospitals and for work-related illnesses were all more likely not to be paid by workers’ compensation.

Conclusions; Emergency department-based surveillance and research that determine work-relatedness on the basis of expected payment by workers’ compensation systematically underestimate the occurrence of occupational illness and injury. This has important methodological and policy implications.