Employee Benefits

News & Analysis as of

Global HR Hot Topic—August 2014: How to Launch an International HR Policy, Code of Conduct or Benefits Plan

In this era of internationally aligned business operations, multinationals roll out cross-border human resources policies, global codes of conduct and international benefits offerings. But launching these cross-border...more

Insurance Industry Sweeps Retained Asset Account Doubleheader

On August 26, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held in Vander Luitgaren v. Sun Life Ass. Co. of Canada, No. 13–2090, 2014 WL 4197947 (1st Cir. Aug. 26, 2014), that an insurer, acting as a claims administrator,...more

Healthcare Reform in the U.S. Territories; Prepayment of Taxes for Puerto Rico Retirement Plans

The summer of 2014 has brought further guidance for health plan coverage in the U.S. territories and for retirement plan coverage in Puerto Rico. Issuers and employer sponsors of Puerto Rico group health plans and employer...more

Developments Impacting Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses

As federal and state agencies and courts further examine the implications of the Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling on same-sex marriage in U.S. v. Windsor, the laws and regulations governing employee benefits for...more

ERISA: Plaintiff’s Attorney Fees Denied — Filing Of Lawsuit Was Not Reason Why Benefits Were Granted

You already know that in ERISA cases a court may, in its discretion, award attorney fees if a party achieved “some degree of success on the merits.”...more

Is The EEOC Off The Rails With This New “Wellness” Lawsuit? Don’t Think So.

Last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit against Wisconsin-based Orion Energy Systems, Inc., over its wellness program and its treatment of ex-employee Wendy Schobert, who was not a fan of the...more

District Courts Reviewing ERISA Cases Under the Arbitrary and Capricious Review Standard Serve Only in an Appellate Role

In McCorkle v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 13-30745, 2014 WL 2983360 (5th Cir. 2014), the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court’s holding that MetLife’s adverse determination regarding the plaintiff’s claim for benefits due to...more

Employers Should Monitor Closely Group Term Life Insurance Enrollments

Many employers offer group term life insurance, including supplemental life. Often an employee who wants to buy coverage above a particular level after an initial open enrollment period must show evidence of insurability....more

Department of Labor Opens the Door to Questioning Brokerage Windows Under 401(k) Plans

A request for information ("RFI") by the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") was published on August 21, 2014 regarding the use of so-called "brokerage windows" under retirement plans, such as many Section 401(k) plans, that...more

Two Important Deadlines Approaching for Self-Insured Group Health Plans

If you sponsor a self-insured group health plan, then November includes two important deadlines: (1) you must obtain a health plan identifier for your plan, and (2) you must report the number of participants for whom a...more

PBGC Publishes Final Regulations on the Phase-In Period for Guarantee of Benefits for an Unpredictable Contingent Event

The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (“PBGC”) recently published final regulations related to the phase-in period for its guarantee of benefits that are contingent upon the occurrence of an “unpredictable contingent...more

Can Unlimited Vacation Policies be Awesome for California Employers and Employees?

High tech companies continue to change our world and how we work. Netflix, Ask.com, Best Buy, Zynga, Evernote, Hubspot and others recently have re-imagined vacation benefits for their own employees by shifting from...more

Fourth Circuit Adds Even More Complexity to Benefit Plan Fiduciaries' Role

The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Dudenhoeffer decision demonstrated that benefit plan fiduciaries are definitely in the litigation spotlight, and that they should exercise caution to avoid fiduciary liability in garden-variety...more

Final Rules Adopted Clarifying Employers’ Obligations under the New York City Earned Sick Time Act

The New York City Earned Sick Time Act (ESTA or the Act) went into effect on April 1, 2014, giving many New York City employees up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year. Since March, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA)...more

Governments May Be Exempt From ERISA, But They Are Not Exempt From Securities Laws

ERISA lawyers know that employee benefit plans offered by state and local governments to their employees are not subject to ERISA, the federal law that generally governs benefit plans of private employers. However, other...more

New Guidance on Locating Missing Participants for Terminated Defined Contribution Plans

On August 14, 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) provided new guidance to plan fiduciaries of terminated defined contribution plans for locating missing and unresponsive participants in order to distribute their...more

District Court in Fourth Circuit Rejects Extension of Amara-like Remedies to Benefit Cases

The Honorable Martin Reidinger, sitting in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, declined Plaintiff’s invitation to extend the applicability of Cigna v. Amara, 131 S. Ct. 1866 (2011), to...more

The Affordable Care Act—Countdown to Compliance for Employers, Week 19: Changes in Employment Status under the Look-Back...

An earlier post explained the two principle methods—the “monthly measurement method” and the “look-back measurement method”—available to applicable large employers to identify full-time employees for purposes of determining...more

Federal Contractors See Hike in SCA Health & Welfare Rates

On July 22, 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued its annual memorandum announcing that, pursuant to 29 C.F.R. Section 4.52, the prevailing hourly health and welfare fringe benefit rates under the McNamara-O'Hara...more

EEOC Sues Employer for Requiring Medical Details as Part of Sick Leave Approval

Employers that provide paid sick leave benefits often require doctors’ notes confirming the employee’s need to be out of work. Last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit against a Pennsylvania employer...more

Prune those 401(k) Plan Investment Lineups

We are a nation of over abundance and we should be grateful for that. The problem is that over abundance can lead to a life of excess. We are often told that more is more and the problem is that there are many times where...more

Are Your Beneficiary Designations Heir Tight?

An often-neglected area in the world of benefit plan administration is the beneficiary designation form. Many participants complete their beneficiary designations incorrectly because they don’t read the instructions carefully...more

Health Care Reform 2.0 Part 1

In this issue: - Health Care Reform – Overview - 2014 Federal Poverty Level Guidelines – 48 Contiguous States* - Health Care Reform – Affected Benefits - Health Care Reform – Excepted...more

The Small Things that Create the Biggest Problems for 401(k) Plan Sponsors

“For Want of a Nail” is a proverbial rhyme that shows that the smallest of action can have huge consequences later down the line, just like a snowball effect “For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse...more

San Francisco Bay Area Commuter Benefits Program Debuts

Beginning September 30, 2014, employers in the San Francisco Bay Area that have a minimum of 50 full-time employees must offer commuter benefits, such as payments for commuter passes, to any employee who works 20 or more...more

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