Final Regulations for Wellness Plans Limit Incentives at 30%

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has released final regulations for employer-sponsored wellness programs under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. The final rules take effect at the start of 2017 and affect all wellness plans for employees and their family members, even those plans that don’t also require enrollment in a health plan. The final rules cover: • The amount and type of incentives employers can offer. • Notice requirements. • The definition of voluntary. • Protection of medical information that the plans collect. Here we look at the new rules: Incentives Under…
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Why Your Company Needs a Total Ban on Cell-phone Use

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Distracted driving from smart phone use while driving is becoming one of the leading causes of accidents in the U.S., and for the first time overall roadway deaths and injuries have started rising again despite regular advancements in car safety – a change that experts attribute to the scourge. And as if that news is not bad enough, if one of your employees while driving for you on the job injures or kills someone while using a mobile phone, your organization could face serious liabilities. This is especially true if they were either talking on the phone without a hands-free…
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If You’re Leasing a Vehicle, Put It in Your Company’s Name

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YOU’RE SUCCESSFUL at running your business and you decide it’s time for a new car. You want to take advantage of the great leasing deals many carmakers have on offer, so one weekend you enter into a lease for that vehicle. On Monday you tell your bookkeeper to add the car to your company’s business auto policy, but he tells you that the insurer can’t add the vehicle since it’s in your name. Knowing you’re going to be using this car primarily for business, you realize you’re suddenly in a bind. As a business owner or company director wanting to…
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OSHA Sets Limits on Drug Testing Injured Workers

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Employers are not allowed to have a blanket policy of requiring drug and alcohol tests after a workplace injury as it may discourage injury reporting, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has said in an interpretation letter. It issued the letter in response to a company’s blanket policy after some intoxicated workers had been injured on the job, and it comes as a new OSHA regulation on post-injury testing is slated to take effect at the start of 2017. These recent actions should spur any employer with a policy of testing its workers post-accident to revisit its rules so…
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Despite Cyber Threat, Few Firms Train Staff in Security

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Even the most up-to-date firewall and virus protection will not protect you against the biggest threat to your organization’s cyber security – your employees themselves. Despite this only 45% of companies train their workers in how to prevent breaches, according to a new report released by the Ponemon Institute, even though 55% of organizations surveyed said they believe they had had a security breach caused by a malicious or negligent employee. And, 66% of respondents said employees are the weakest link in their efforts to create a strong security environment. The report says also even when there is training, there…
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Crackdown on Employers Who Shunt Employees onto Medicare

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is stepping up efforts to root out employers who have improperly put workers who were eligible for the company’s group health plan into Medicare. Under the law, employers are prohibited from offering incentives of any kind to a Medicare-eligible individual to enroll in Medicare instead of the employer’s health plan. Companies with 20 or more employees may not encourage covered employees and/or dependents to make this change in coverage. The fine for encouraging an employee or dependent to take Medicare is $5,000 per situation, but that’s not the largest potential penalty. The…
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OSHA Gets Tough on Audits and Penalties, May Affect Employers Earlier than Expected

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Those higher fines that federal OSHA plans on implementing Aug. 1, can actually start applying to any workplace safety violations that were cited in inspections as early as February of this year. That’s because OSHA can take as long as six months after an inspection to issue citations and the penalties it proposes for the employer. This sobering news comes as OSHA finalizes new regulations regarding electronic reporting of injuries and has started conducting more probing investigations than it has in the past. Under the federal budget for 2016, fines for the most common violations – serious and other-than-serious –…
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A Guide to The DOL’s New Overtime Regulations

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The Department of Labor has more than doubled the salary threshold for exempt employees to $47,476, which means anyone earning less than that must be eligible for overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week. The increase equates to a minimum salary of $913 per week, compared to the current $455 per week – or $23,660 a year. This means if you employ someone who is currently an exempt manager and they earn less than $47,476, they will be non-exempt starting Dec. 1, unless you give them a raise. If they work more than 40 hours a week,…
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