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Family Leave Act

Making the Most of Benefits Integration

Making the Most of Benefits Integration

Businesses are always concerned with the bottom line. It's a part of being in business. The goal is to generate as much profit as possible. While increasing revenues are essential to this aim, one's bottom line can see a huge bump by keeping employees healthy, free of injuries, and at work as much as possible.

One way to encourage employees to continually come to work stems from benefits integration. By combining absence management programs and disability benefits, many companies can find a cost savings advantage.

If the employer adds a wellness program into this mix, the company may see added benefits. Wellness programs have been proven to rapidly improve the health of employees after implementation.

Integrating Benefits For Good

Cost savings isn't the only reason to combine benefits. Many companies have seen compliance risks eliminated due to integration. When programs are segregated, and administration is not properly aligned, a company puts itself at risk of making compliance errors. And these errors can be costly.

If a company does not integrate their benefits, then numerous claims could all be made at different times for the same injury, including:

  •  Workers' compensation
  • Family and Medical Leave Act time
  • Short-term disability

For an example, let's look at someone who had surgery. The first eight weeks they are out stemming from the surgery could be on a workers' comp claim. Once they come back from that claim, they could use an additional 12 weeks by filing for FMLA time.

Instead, an employer can run both of these claims concurrently – limiting the time away from work for the employee to 12 weeks, not 20. This is one of the easiest ways for employers to lower their lost time rates. Implementing a few return-to-work programs has also shown benefit to some companies.

It's important to remember that benefits integration will work differently for every company. Each employer has a variety of factors to consider before implementing any integration programs.

A Focus On Wellness

While limiting lost time rates is vital to improving profitability, some employers are taking a different route. Many companies have begun to focus on keeping employees productive by keeping them healthy.

Many wellness programs promoted by employers are focusing on helping employees with illnesses become healthier. Standard concentrations of employee health programs include diabetes, heart disease, and more.

Employees with diabetes, cost employers 2.3 times more on medical coverage. This hurts profitability. So wellness programs aim to limit the impact of such illness by incorporating recreation centers, trainers, desk exercises, health assessments, and more.

Many employers also offer employees with diabetes free testing supplies, monitoring, and more. Some companies even provide a reduction in employee health care premiums – if the employee takes part in the wellness program.  

How Your Business Can Make the Most Of Integration

When increasing profitability is in the cards, companies will pull out all the stops. From wellness programs to benefits integration, employers have many ways to bump the bottom line without increasing revenues.

From an insurance standpoint, wellness programs offer great benefits to employers and employees alike. Combining benefits like workers' comp and short-term disability eliminates employees taking advantage of the system. Employers also benefit from wellness programs as it covers their compliance when integrating.

New York’s New Budget Deal - Family Leave Act

New York’s New Budget Deal - Family Leave Act

New York's legislature went into overdrive and closed out March with a finalized budget deal that promises $15 an hour to employees and mandated paid-family-leave time for them as well.

The new deal contrasts with other states that offer the paid time off by offering up to twelve weeks paid time off that allows employees to bond with a new child or take care of seriously ill family members.

This new deal will supersede the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which requires some employers to offer unpaid time off for some employees but employers with less than 50 employees are exempt. Other requirements in the newly outdated FMLA, are employment requirements of greater than a year as well as a prescribed minimum number of hours worked for the previous year.

Who's Covered?

This new monster bill eliminates many of the FMLA exclusions and applies to full-time and part-time employees. There are no exemptions for small businesses (less than 50 employees), and employees need only six months of service to qualify. The legislature claims the expense of the program will be paid by a one dollar per week deduction from employees and no cost to the employer. Men and women are entitled to the new paid leave program for both straight and same-sex two-parent households and single-parent households.

When does it Start?

Nothing in government happens quickly. The bill allows for a phased-in period for benefit time and payments. The paid leave benefits will kick in January 1, 2018, when the phase-in period begins. Employees will become eligible for eight weeks of paid leave in 2018, then ten weeks in 2019 and 2020, then up to twelve weeks beginning 2010.

How Much?

Beginning with the 2018 kick-off, the paid leave will cover 50% of an employee's average pay and then rise over the following four years to a maximum of 67% of an employee's average pay. The maximum payment represents two-thirds of the state's average weekly wage of $1,266.44 which translates to $848. If you're a high earner, be prepared to take a huge cut during your paid family leave, but hey, it's $848 higher than before.

Employer Effect

There are costs to consider even though the plan is supposed to be funded by the employee rather than employers. The additional costs of hiring temporary employees or paying overtime to existing employees to cover the responsibilities of the "on leave" employee may become unbearable for small business employers. In states such as California, where six weeks employee family leave has been available for over ten years, many businesses are reporting that the mandate has attributed to basically neutral effects. In fact, in many cases, businesses are reporting a positive effect because of improved employee morale and job security.

Why Now?

Businesses wanting to know why the paid-family-leave program is about to become a reality need to look no further than New York's office of the governor. Governor Cuomo has had recent family tragedies that obviously triggered his need to get this done sooner rather than later. During a February news conference, the governor remarked " There are times in life when you should be with family members because that's what it's all about at the end of the day... When you have a newborn baby, you should enjoy it... If you have a family member who is passing away, God forbid, you should be there."  If you have questions about FMLA contact Skyline Risk Management, Inc. at (718) 267-6600 to discuss your concerns.