Two-Thirds of Small Firms Are Boosting Their Benefits Packages: Poll

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Now more than ever, employers need to step up their employee benefits game beyond providing group health insurance. Thanks to the Great Resignation, employees are demanding more from their current and prospective employers. And those that don’t deliver lose employees or have trouble attracting new talent, as long-time colleagues head for the exits. Good pay and a robust health insurance package still win the day, but employers are having to do more to sweeten the pot, according to a new survey by MetLife. One of the biggest factors affecting American employees is stress and burnout and the survey reflects these…
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Cal/OSHA Requires Employers to Protect Workers from Wildfire Smoke

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Cal/OSHA has issued a reminder to employers that they are required to protect their outdoor workers from unhealthy air due to wildfire smoke. Cal/OSHA’s Protection from Wildfire Smoke emergency regulation put in place in August 2019 was made permanent in February 2021. For the safety of your workers and to comply with the regulation, it’s important that you follow the regulations and know when you will need to take action to protect them from outdoor smoke. The regulation applies when the Air Quality Index (AQI) for airborne particulate matter 2.5 microns (PM2.5) is 151 or greater in an area where…
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Commissioner Rejects Proposed Hike in Benchmark Rate

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For the third year in a row, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has rejected the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau’s proposal for a workers’ compensation rate increase, and has ordered instead that benchmark rates remain the same. Lara rejected the WCIRB’s proposal that benchmark rates increase 7.6% for policies incepting on or after Sept. 1, saying that there was not enough data to support such a large increase. That means the average benchmark rate will remain unchanged at $1.45 per $100 of payroll over the next year, compared to the $1.56 per $100 of payroll the Rating Bureau had recommended. The…
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Recent Legal Actions Illustrate Importance of Sexual Harassment Prevention Policies

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A California judge in May 2022 approved an $18 million settlement between video-game giant Activision Blizzard and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after the federal agency accused the company of subjecting employees to severe sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination, and that it engaged in retaliation against employees who complained. A few months earlier Tesla was sued by six women, who described a culture of sexual harassment that included unwanted touching, catcalls and retaliation against those who complained. And recently 15 women interviewed by the Financial Times accused Apple Inc. of giving short shrift to their complaints of sexual harassment. While…
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Employers Tap Technology to Tackle Distracted Driving

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Everyone knows the dangers of distracted driving, but the stakes are much higher when the driver of a commercial vehicle is distracted. As a result of this danger, more companies with fleets and commercial drivers are turning to technology to prevent their workers from using their phones while driving. And lately, insurers have started partnering with tech companies to offer these technologies to their commercial auto clients. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, compared to personal vehicle drivers, commercial truck drivers are: 23 times more likely to cause an accident when texting at the wheel, Seven times more…
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Employers Focus on Cost Containment, Mental Health and Telemedicine

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A new survey has found that managing health care costs and expanding mental health benefits will be a top priority for U.S. employers as they ramp up benefits to compete for talent in the tight job market spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, virtual care is expected to become an essential and long-lasting feature of employers’ health insurance and employee benefits strategies over the next few years, according to the “2022 Emerging Trends in Healthcare Survey” by Wills Towers Watson. The focus on health care and insurance costs, mental health and expanded telehealth comes as employers continue pulling out all…
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Cal/OSHA: Protect Workers Against Heat Illness

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As we get closer to another scorching California summer, Cal/OSHA is reminding employers with outdoor workers to take precautions to protect them against the heat. California employers need to be especially mindful as Cal/OSHA has workplace safety regulations governing the prevention of heat illness and the agency actively enforces its heat illness prevention standard. Employers should also comply for the safety and well-being of their workers, as heat illness can be deadly. Cal/OSHA is urging employers to take the following steps to prevent heat-related illness among their employees who work outdoors: Plan — Develop and implement an effective written heat illness…
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Don’t Forget Remote Workers in Sexual Harassment Prevention Policies

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If you have staff working from home as a result of changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, you still need to stay on top of your obligations to protect your staff from sexual harassment. Not being physically in the office doesn’t seem to have had an effect on employee sexual harassment as employers paid out more than $65 million in sexual harassment settlements and court awards in 2020, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. While most workplace sexual harassment has historically taken place in person at the workplace, a good portion has migrated online in the form of harassment…
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Health Expenses a Major Source of Mental Health Issues for U.S. Workers

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A new study has found that more than one in four U.S. workers say expensive medical bills are having a major impact on their mental health. Mental health issues have come to the fore during the COVID-19 pandemic, spurring employers to expect their group health plans to do more for their workers in this area. The report on the study by the health care consulting company Centivo urges employers to consider new ways to reduce the medical financial burden some of their employees may be experiencing. Mental health is already on the radar of employers: Large businesses reported that addressing…
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Think Like a Risk Manager to Reduce Your Insurance Costs

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All large corporations and national businesses have someone in charge of risk management, if not a whole department. But hiring a risk specialist or dedicating a number of employees to that kind of work is typically too expensive for most small and mid-sized companies. So, this risk mitigation typically is left to the business owner or the duties are spread among senior managers. Also, insurance companies like policyholders that try to manage their risks, and they reward them by reducing their premiums. You can reduce the cost of your insurance if you start thinking like a risk manager. You can…
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