Employee Benefit Guidance & Compliance Solutions

Monthly Newsletter May 2018

Posted by on May 1, 2018 in Newsletters

Dear Valued Clients and Associates,

I am excited to announce that I have joined PF Compass as a Licensed Benefits Consultant. With a track record of satisfied clients for over 35 years, I am thrilled to be part of this dynamic team. We provide the same services and expertise as larger broker agencies, but with higher attention to your satisfaction.

To carry on the tradition of helping to keep you informed, here is your May 2018 Newsletter with a combination of HR and Health related news.



FAQs on Paid Family and Medical Leave Tax Credit

Internal Revenue Service has released FAQs on the Paid Family and Medical Leave Tax Credit, which certain employers can soon claim based on wages paid to employees on family and medical leave. The tax credit is effective for tax years 2018 and 2019.
Among other questions, the FAQs answer:

  • Which employers can claim the credit;
  • How the credit is calculated; and
  • How the credit impacts an employer’s tax deduction for wages paid.

Click here to read the FAQs

Check out our Employer Tax Laws section for more information regarding an employer’s tax responsibilities.



The Wall Street Journal: Opioid Shipments To Small Towns Come Under Spotlight At Hearing

Most company executives told a House hearing that their companies’ actions didn’t fan the opioid epidemic in the state. But some acknowledged the industry shipped too many pills and failed to identify major abuses in overprescribing. “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish we had moved faster and asked a different set of questions. I am deeply sorry we did not,” said George Barrett, executive board chairman of Cardinal Health Inc. Only one executive, Joseph Mastandrea, chairman of Miami-Luken Inc. said that his company had a “shared responsibility” for the opioid crisis.The testimony marked a pivotal juncture in a year-long bipartisan investigation by a House Energy and Commerce oversight panel into alleged pill dumping in West Virginia. (Armour and Burton, 5/8)



DOL Clarifies Federal Law on Tip Pooling

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released guidance clarifying federal law on tip pooling. The guidance was issued in response to a federal law that amended the federal Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) tip pooling rules. The DOL guidance states that:

  1. Employers are prohibited from keeping tips received by their employees, regardless of whether the employer takes a tip credit against the minimum wage for its employees.
  2. Federal regulations no longer prohibit tip pooling when employers pay tipped employees at least the full federal minimum wage and do not claim a tip credit.
  3. Employers who pay at least the full federal minimum wage are no longer prohibited from allowing employees who are not customarily and regularly tipped—such as cooks and dishwashers—to participate in tip pools. However, managers and supervisors are prohibited from participating in tip pools.

Employers should remember that some states have different rules concerning tip pools and tip credits. When there are differences between state and federal laws in this area, the law more favorable to the employee generally applies.

Click here to read the DOL guidance.



Obamacare Premiums to Surge Next Year, Early Requests Show

The first glimpse of what health-insurance companies plan to charge for Obamacare plans next year suggests there’s no relief ahead for consumers saddled with high premiums. Several insurers in Maryland and Virginia are seeking double-digit percentage increases in monthly costs for individual medical plans in 2019. The largest increases are being sought by CareFirst, which wants to nearly double the amount it charges on average for one coverage option in Maryland, and raise the cost of another in Virginia by 64 percent. (Tozzi, 5/7)



Are Summer Interns Subject to Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay Laws?

While the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires for-profit employers to pay “employees” for their work, interns and students may not be employees under the FLSA. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and many courts use the “primary beneficiary” test to determine whether an intern or student is, in fact, an employee under the FLSA. This test examines the “economic reality” of the intern-employer relationship to determine which party is the “primary beneficiary” of the relationship.

The primary beneficiary test is flexible, and no single factor is determinative. Instead, whether an intern or student is an employee under the FLSA depends on the unique circumstances of each case. If analysis of these circumstances reveals that an intern or student is actually an employee, then he or she is entitled to both minimum wage and overtime pay under the FLSA.

Click here for more information from the DOL.

Check out our Employee Pay Rules section to learn more about federal rules regulating employee pay.



The Associated Press: UMaine Brings Goats to Campus to Help Stressed Students

I had to include this article since UMaine is my alma mater!

The University of Maine has deployed a herd of goats to help students get through a stressful finals season at the end of the semester. There was a line of students waiting this week to get close to the goats. WABI-TV reports the goal of the goats is to cheer students up who may be dealing with stress. (5/9)



Small Businesses May Be Able to Keep Existing Health Coverage Through 2019

A previously extended transitional policy that permits health insurance issuers to continue group coverage that would otherwise be terminated or cancelled due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been further extended to policy years beginning on or before October 1, 2019, provided that all policies end by December 31, 2019. Health insurance issuers that renew coverage under the extended transitional policy are required to provide standard notices to affected small businesses for each policy year.

Policies subject to the transitional relief will not be considered to be out of compliance with key ACA provisions, including:

  • The requirement to cover a core package of items and services known as essential health benefits;
  • The requirement that any variations in premiums be limited with regard to a particular plan or coverage to age, tobacco use, family size, and geography; and
  • The requirements regarding guaranteed availability and renewability of coverage.

Click here to review the extended transitional policy.

Visit our ACA by Year & Company Size section for an overview of other ACA requirements.



Kaiser Health News: Hoping To See Your Doctor Via Telemedicine? Here’s A Quick Guide.

Tucked into the federal budget law Congress passed in February was a provision that significantly expands the use of telemedicine — long a hyped health care reform, and now poised to go mainstream within five to 10 years. “There’s much broader recognition of the benefits,” said Mei Wa Kwong, executive director of the Center for Connected Health Policy, a research group that promotes telemedicine in Sacramento, Calif. “The law is the latest to make telemedicine more accessible. But we still have a ways to go before most consumers are aware of the option.” (Findlay, 5/9)



Tips for Hiring New Graduates

At colleges across the country, the Class of 2018 is graduating. Thinking of staffing up your business by hiring a new college graduate? Learn some tips on how to prepare these hires for your workplace by watching the video below.

For more hiring best practices, visit our Recruitment & Hiring section.



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


All the best to your success,

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

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



Source Credits: HR 360, Inc., Keiser Health News

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