Leveraging HSAs to Help Your Staff Manage Health Care Costs

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

With the COVID-19 pandemic weighing on employers and employees alike, businesses can help their staff by leveraging health savings accounts to pay for out-of-pocket expenses. With increased flexibility from recent changes, more employees may see benefit from using an HSA. In 2020 congress untethered HSAs and flexible spending accounts by changing the rules that prohibited account holders from using the funds in their accounts for over-the-counter medicines and other non-prescription health products and services. That change, which is permanent, was done through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. HSAs are a great option to help employees save…
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Commissioner Rejects COVID-19 Workers’ Comp Surcharge

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

When California’s insurance commissioner in December ordered that the workers’ compensation benchmark rate for this year be cut 4.6% on average, he also rejected a recommendation that all policies be subject to a COVID-19 workers comp surcharge. When the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau made its rate filing for 2021, it also recommended that all policies in the state be subject to a COVID-19 workers comp surcharge that ranged from 1 cent per $100 of payroll for the least risky professions to 26 cents per $100 of payroll for the riskiest (such as health care workers). The Rating Bureau had…
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COVID-19 Relief Bill Extends Unemployment Benefits, PPP and More

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

The $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill, passed by Congress and signed into law on Dec. 27, includes a number of provisions that affect employers and their workers in terms of paid sick leave and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act provisions. The legislation also boosts unemployment benefits to out-of-work Americans, as well as reopening and expanding the Paycheck Protection Program that was introduced in March as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. What’s Inside the new COVID-19 Relief Bill? Paid sick leave and family medical leave The new law has not extended the obligation for…
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Law Imposes New COVID-19 Reporting Requirements

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

California employers already have a lot to digest after Cal/OSHA issued sweeping new safety regulations in November that include new COVID-19 reporting requirements, among other changes. Now they face additional requirements starting Jan. 1, 2021, thanks to a new law. AB 685 expands Cal/OSHA’s authority to issue stop-work orders to workplaces it deems a COVID-19 “imminent hazard.” It also requires employers to send notices to a number of parties (state agencies, local authorities, employees, contractors, and more) if they have coronavirus infections in any of their facilities. The law, which comes into effect on January 1, covers a lot of…
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California’s COVID-19 Tracking Requirement Challenges Employers

| posted in Blog

SB 1159, signed into law in September, requires that when a California employer “knows or reasonably should know” that an employee has tested positive for coronavirus, it must report that positive case to its workers’ compensation carrier within three business days along with other COVID-19 tracking requirements. There is a lot of ground to cover in these reports and the legislation was passed without much publicity, so many employers may not even know about their obligations. And that could cost them: the fine for non-compliance is $10,000 per incident. The law goes further than merely reporting a positive case: The…
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How Will COVID-19 Change Health Insurance

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

With talks of a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, many are asking about the long term effects of the pandemic, like how will COVID-19 change health insurance. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted businesses and other organizations in multiple ways. Lost revenue and the overnight change to remote workforces, among other things, have caused significant changes to operations and finances. A new report shows that there will be long-term effects on employee benefit programs as well. Health insurers are forecasting continued cost increases that dwarf general inflation rates, according to the report by Mercer Marsh Benefits. Most expect 2021 medical cost inflation…
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Pandemic Telecommuting and the Wage and Hour Dilemma

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

With the coronavirus pandemic forcing so many employees to work remotely, and with mobile technology allowing them to work from anywhere, your employees may be working when they are off the clock. They may feel pressured to do so or maybe they just want to get their work done, but if they are working past normal working hours, it could spell trouble for your organization in the form of wage and hour disputes. The proliferation of smartphones had already led to a rising number of lawsuits by employees claiming they were required to work uncompensated on evenings and weekends when…
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Pandemic Puts Spotlight on Financial Employee Benefits

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

With so many people facing challenging circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are now looking to their employers for value-added voluntary benefits and financial employee benefits that protect their and their families’ health and finances, a new study has found. According to the study conducted by Prudential Life Insurance, 40% of U.S workers are planning to buy life insurance to cover unexpected life events and provide financial protection. The good news is that there are a variety of employee benefit plans designed to help safeguard employees’ finances and health during this unprecedented time. Beyond the traditional retirement and health care…
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COVID-19 Workers’ Comp Claims Grow, While Overall Claims Plummet

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

While the number of COVID-19 workers’ comp cases filed in California continues to grow, total workplace injury and illness claims in the state have fallen nearly 20% so far in 2020 compared to 2019. Through September, the state had recorded 47,412 COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims, accounting for 11.1% of all claims reported since the start of the year. During that same period, California workers filed 425,280 workers’ compensation claims, down 19% from the first nine months of 2019. COVID-19 case numbers The first COVID-19 cases among California workers were filed in March. They peaked in July and started to decline…
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Cal/OSHA Conducts COVID-19 Sweeps, Proposes Huge Fines

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

Cal/OSHA COVID-19 inspections and subsequent fines have caught some employers off guard. The agency has been conducting sweeps of employers in California to root out those who are not protecting their workers from COVID-19 exposure. Cal/OSHA has targeted companies in industries that have a heightened risk of exposure to the coronavirus, which resulted in 11 citations being issued. While Cal/OSHA has been inspecting facilities since April for COVID-19-related infractions, the recent sweeps are part of a new targeted and ongoing enforcement effort that California employers should be aware of. Cal/OSHA COVID-19 inspections & fines issued For an example of what’s at…
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