Employee Benefit Guidance & Compliance Solutions

Monthly Newsletter June 2019

Posted by on June 1, 2019 in Newsletters

Dear Valued Clients and Associates,

With so many hot topics to choose from, I’ve decided to use June to introduce a way for you to potentially put money back into your business with little efforts. “How is this possible?” you ask… Work Opportunity Tax Credits! To learn more, read the article below “How much did you overpay your taxes last year”.

To all the Fathers, Grandfathers, Uncles, Brothers and Friends who nurture and love the children in their lives, I hope you have a wonderful FATHER’S DAY!

Is your broker only around at renewal? Would you rather have service year-round? Give me a call or email me now to schedule a time to discuss your employee benefit goals and how we will work hard to ensure you and your employees are satisfied all year long.

Here is your June 2019 Newsletter with a combination of HR and Health related news. I hope you enjoy!



Medical Marijuana In The Workplace – Update for New Jersey Employers

by Maggie Johnson

Recreational marijuana use is not yet legalized in New Jersey or New York despite recent attempts by each state’s legislators to do so. However, recreational marijuana use, if legalized, would not necessarily present a problem for employers. As a comparison, alcohol is legal, but employers have the right to prohibit its consumption during working hours and in the workplace. Surely, the same rule would apply to recreational marijuana. But what about medical marijuana?

To read more, visit the PF Compass Blog Here.

NYC Employers Also Take Note: New York City Bans Pre-Employment Marijuana Screening

The law contains additional exceptions for certain federal contracts and federal, state and local drug-testing requirements in the areas of transportation and safety and security.

Click Here for more.



New Jersey’s Minimum Wage Increase Begins July 1, 2019

On February 4, 2019, Gov. Phil Murphy signed A-15, which sets New Jersey on the path to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2024. The new law raises the minimum wage in increments, increasing the wage to $10 per hour on July 1, 2019 and to $11 on January 1, 2020.

To read more, click here.



Final Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2020

Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its final Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2020. This proposed rule describes benefit and payment parameters under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that would be applicable for the 2020 benefit year. Standards included in the rule relate to:

  • Annual limitations on cost sharing
  • The individual mandate’s affordability exemption
  • Direct enrollment in the Exchanges
  • Special enrollment periods (SEP) in the Exchanges

HHS also sought comments on issues to address in the future, such as the practice of “silver loading,” the automatic re-enrollment process through the Exchanges and any additional measures that would reduce eligibility errors and potential government misspending. HHS noted that it intends to take the comments received in response to the proposed rule into consideration in future rulemaking.

Notable Changes for 2020

The out-of-pocket maximum (OOPM) will increase, and the ACA’s affordability exemption threshold will decrease for 2020.

  • OOPM: $8,150 for self-only coverage and $16,300 for family coverage
  • Affordability threshold: 8.24% of household income

The final rule also enhances direct enrollment through the Exchanges and establishes a new SEP for the Exchanges.



A Drug Prolonged Life in Younger Women With Advanced Breast Cancer

by Denise Grady; The New York Times – June 1, 2019

Adding a newer medicine to the standard hormonal treatment helped women who had not reached menopause or were still going through it.
In patients who took the drug along with a standard treatment, 70 percent were still alive three and a half years later, compared with only 46 percent of those given the standard treatment alone.

To read more, click here.



Lowest Unemployment in Decades

Job figures continued to rise in April, officially bringing unemployment to its lowest in 50 years—3.6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Primary job gains occurred in the health and business services sectors, with respectable growth in construction as well. With over 150,000 jobs being added each month, on average, employment growth shows no signs of slowing down. However, despite this upward trend, experts caution to expect more modest job creation over the next few months.

Growth by the Numbers

Unemployment fell across all categories tracked by the BLS. Notably, unemployment rates for women and Hispanics dropped to record lows for the first time since 1953 and 1973, respectively. But not all workers are feeling the economic gains. Long-term unemployment is still high, and the number of part-time workers looking to work full-time remains steady, according to experts.

Employer Takeaway

The labor market is tightening up, but it’s not tapped out. This means now is the time to attract talent and retain your current workforce.



Your (500) Physician(s) Will See You Now

Forbes by Peter Ubel

The day of solo practitioners is coming to an end. In its place will be gaggles of gastroenterologists and flocks of physicians. Mega practices are becoming the norm in American medical care.

To read more click here.



DOL Issues Opinion Letter on Gig Worker Classification

In the growing “gig economy,” individuals perform jobs on a one-off or short-term basis, typically through an online application or job marketplace. On April 29, 2019, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued an opinion letter addressing whether individuals working for a virtual marketplace company (VMC) are employees or independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

According to the DOL, the VMC described in the opinion letter provides a referral service—it does not receive services from the workers itself. As a result, the DOL clarifies that workers who use the VMC to provide services are independent contractors.

This opinion letter indicates that the DOL generally classifies gig workers as independent contractors. Opinion letters are specific to the situations presented, but employers can look to them for guidance on the DOL’s interpretation of the law.

The interpretation in this opinion letter may not apply to all gig workers if their circumstances are substantially different from the situation addressed in the letter.



Your Wake-Up Call On Data-Collecting Smart Beds And Sleep Apps

KHN By Julie Appleby

An array of products — from mattresses and sensors to sleep trackers and apps — are catching consumers’ attention. But privacy experts are concerned about what becomes of all the personal information these products collect.

To read more, click here .



The Unexpected Perk Of My Group Pregnancy Care: New Friends

By: Jenny Gold (posted on KHN and published on NPR)

CenteringPregnancy is group prenatal care offered by more than 600 practices across the country. Rather than the standard 15-minute individual visits in an exam room, women who are due around the same time and their partners meet as a group for two hours with a clinician, usually a midwife.

To read one woman’s great experience, click here.



Reminder: PCORI Fees Due July 31

Fees Apply to Employers Sponsoring Certain Self-Insured Plans

As a reminder, employers that sponsor certain self-insured health plans responsible for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fees. Fees for plan years that ended in 2018 are due July 31, 2019.

Employers must report and pay the required PCORI fees annually via IRS Form 720. For plan years that ended between January 1, 2018 and September 30, 2018, the fee is $2.39 multiplied by the average number of lives covered under the plan. For plan years that ended between October 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018, the fee is $2.45 multiplied by the average number of lives covered under the plan.

For more information on filing due dates and applicable rates, click here.



How Much Did You Overpay Your Taxes Last Year?

By: Kevin Brice at Employer Incentives

If you didn’t take advantage of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (“WOTC”), the answer is $180 times the number of hires you had in 2018.

The program rewards companies for hiring from 10 targeted groups, mostly individuals who have been on public assistance in the recent past. Categories include long-term unemployed, unemployed veterans, ex-felons, people who live in a rural county or whose family has been on welfare or food stamps (over 300,000 people go on food stamps each year according to the Dept of Labor statistics). Businesses are required to have their new hires fill out two additional forms prior to hire date, and then send in the forms of those who qualify. It is then up to the individual States to confirm or deny the person’s eligibility for tax credits, which can be as little as $200 (someone who worked the 120-hour minimum and were paid minimum wage) but up to $9600 for an unemployed vet with a service-connected disability.

The WOTC program has been around for over 20 years, but not many companies take advantage of it because of certain misconceptions (and a few truths) about the program that make business owners unwilling to go through the effort. The feedback we receive on a consistent basis is that the program is labor intensive and difficult to manage. Dealing with the state agencies that are responsible for the program can be time consuming. Many business owners decide that the program is not worth the effort because keeping track of every employees’ eligibility, responding to State government RFIs, and following up with terminated employees is a lot of work. If the volume of hiring is very high, administering the program is enough work for a full-time employee, but hiring someone to be responsible for it dilutes the benefit. The reason EmployerIncentives.com has a business in the first place is because business owners want the benefit of WOTC without all the hassle.

We discovered these credits back in 1996 and went “all in” on helping companies administer this federal income tax credit and today, we save our clients over $5,000,000 in taxes each year. The hospitality industry is right in the sweet spot for these credits – many new hires are paid a low entry level wage and there is significant turnover. On average, 12-15% of new hires will qualify for the program and the average credit that we secure per new hire is $1,500.

This is truly found money as tax credits remain in the owner’s bank account, improving profitability, cash flow and stakeholders’ equity. The program is difficult to administer but the reward is worth it. To find out more about this program, visit our website at www.EmployerIncetives.com



Hiring and Managing Seasonal Employees

With the summer hiring season underway, employers should begin thinking about how best to hire and manage seasonal employees. Employers who do not dedicate time to these critical steps risk having to face disgruntled employees, unhappy customers, and even legal violations. To learn some best practices for hiring and managing seasonal employees, please watch the video below.

To learn how to attract top talent to your company, visit our Recruitment & Hiring section.



I am constantly looking for ways to improve this newsletter and suggestions are welcome. Thank you!


Brandi Bowers | Benefits Consultant
PF Compass Employer Guidance & Benefit Solutions

461 Somerset St. North Plainfield NJ 07060
Tel (732) 258-1032


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Source Credits: Copyright © HR 360, Inc. All rights reserved., Forbes.com, Keiser Health News, Mercer US Health, NPR, Kevin Brice, New York Times

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