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CHILD VACCINATIONS: DON’T WAIT TO VACCINATE

Over four million babies are born in the United States every year, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination against 16 vaccine preventable diseases. Unfortunately, not all parents ensure their children are properly immunized.

Keeping Kids Healthy

Before vaccinations became widely available, diseases like measles, mumps and whooping cough were common in childhood, leaving thousands of children blind, deaf, brain-damaged or even dead. Today, vaccines have almost completely wiped out these major diseases.

What Is a Vaccination?

A vaccination (or an immunization) contains an imitation virus, typically a live but weakened virus, or an inactive bacteria virus, that is administered to protect against serious diseases. This virus causes the body to produce antibodies, special agents of the immune system that attack harmful elements inside the body. While fighting the imitation virus, the antibodies learn to recognize the real virus so they can attack it when the body is exposed to it. Researchers have found that live virus vaccinations seem to provide longer immunity than inactive ones.

Vaccinations are usually administered in one of two ways: orally or by injection. Doctors have found that vaccines administered orally tend to have a higher chance of side effects and allergic reactions than injected vaccines.

Possible Side Effects

Overall, vaccines are safe to administer and typically only cause minor side effects. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the risk of effects related to actually contracting a disease is much more dangerous than the risk of having a serious reaction to a vaccination. However, there have been a few cases of major reactions in small children, such as:

  • Extremely high fever—A rectal temperature reading of 105 degrees or more
  • Inconsolable crying—More than three hours of crying without stopping, or an abnormal cry
  • Convulsions—Full-body shaking, twitching or jerking in response to a high fever
  • Severe allergic reactions—Swelling in the mouth and throat, wheezing, breathing difficulties, dizziness, paleness or limpness.

Should your child suffer from any of the above symptoms after receiving his or her vaccinations, call your doctor immediately.

Vaccination Facts

Although today in the United States epidemics of infectious diseases are rare, bacteria and viruses that cause many diseases still exist. These bacteria and viruses may affect people who are not protected by vaccines. Vaccinations are necessary because they can prevent repeated epidemics of infectious diseases.

Do I Need to Vaccinate?

Experts recommend that all children be routinely vaccinated. Most children in the United States are currently vaccinated as recommended, helping control infectious diseases that were common and deadly in the past.

Scientists, doctors and other health care professionals extensively test vaccines to make sure they are safe and effective before putting them on the market. In the United States, the FDA reviews all the test results to decide if it will approve a vaccine for use.

When Should I Vaccinate?

Newborns are immune to many diseases because of antibodies they have acquired from their mothers while in the womb. These antibodies only last from about a month to a year after birth, so it is best to vaccinate children when they are babies. However, you should still have your children vaccinated, even if you do not do it when they are babies or when they are very young—it is better for them to be vaccinated late than not at all.

By vaccinating your children when recommended, you will have to worry less about them becoming infected or infecting others, especially once they begin attending school, which increases their risk.

Health Insurance

Vaccinations are covered by most insurance programs, but because of their importance they are available even to those without insurance. If you are not insured and cannot afford your child’s vaccinations, contact your city, county or state health department. They can help you find a place to have your child immunized where it will be inexpensive or even free.

If you are unsure when you should take your child in for vaccinations, call your health care provider for information and vaccination schedules. More information is also available at: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Immunization Hotline, 800-232-2522 or www.cdc.gov/vaccines.

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Live Well, Work Well: December’s Employee Wellness Newsletter

Pages from LWWW - December 2014_Page_1Pages from LWWW - December 2014_Page_2

Paid Paternity Leave: What Working Mother’s…and Farher’s Should Know

Although the advantages of offering paid maternity leave are frequently recognized, the importance of providing paid paternity leave is often overlooked. Many new fathers would like to take time off when a child is born or adopted, but not all companies offer paternity leave benefits. Paid paternity leave can be an attractive benefit when recruiting and retaining these employees.

Paid Paternity Leave v. FMLA

Paternity leave is the paid or unpaid time that a father takes off work for a child’s birth or adoption. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires covered employers (typically those with 50 or more employees) to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave for eligible employees for certain circumstances, which includes for the birth and care of a child within one year of his or her birth or placement.

Some states have additional leave requirements beyond federally mandated family leave. However, there are no laws requiring that private companies pay employees during paternity leave.

Paid paternity leave goes beyond the FMLA requirements and offers fully or partially paid leave for new fathers. Paid paternity leave typically runs concurrently with FMLA-required leave, but it can be offered in addition to FMLA leave.

Advantages of Paternity Leave

Although unpaid leave is mandated by FMLA, paid paternity benefits are an attractive but not universally offered benefit. Only 14 percent of employers provide paid paternity leave, according to the 2014 National Study of Employers by the Families and Work Institute. Paid paternity leave serves as a great recruitment and retention tool, and offering this benefit can set your company apart when recruiting talented job candidates. Studies show that the majority of working fathers think paid paternity leave benefits are important, and more than half of young fathers have considered the availability of paid paternity leave benefits when deciding whether or not to take a job.

An additional benefit of paternity leave is to the employee’s family. Studies have shown that a father taking paternity leave to be with his family for the first weeks after a child’s birth improves both the mother’s wellbeing and the quality of the bond between father and child.

Offering Paternity Leave

If you choose to offer paternity leave, you will need to consider the following:

  • How much time off will you provide for paternity leave?
  • Will paid leave run concurrently or in addition to FMLA leave?
  • Can paid paternity leave be taken incrementally or must it be taken in one chunk of time directly following the birth or adoption of the child?
  • Can paternity leave be taken part time?
  • Will paternity leave include partial or full pay?
  • How will you determine eligibility? For example, does the employee have to be employed for a certain length of time before becoming eligible for paid paternity leave?
  • How will you encourage employees to take advantage of the benefit? Studies show that many of the fathers who are offered paternity leave but don’t use it fear the stigma that may come with taking time off work for a newborn.

Paid paternity leave can be a great addition to your benefits package and can help with both recruitment and retention. Consider how paternity leave fits into your company’s culture and create a policy that works for you.

Affordable Care Act Pay or Play Penalties—Helpful Look-back Measurement Examples

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) imposes a penalty on applicable large employers (ALEs) that do not offer health insurance coverage to substantially all full-time employees and dependents. Penalties may also be imposed if coverage is offered, but is unaffordable or does not provide minimum value. The ACA’s employer penalty rules are often referred to as “employer shared responsibility” or “pay or play” rules.

On Feb. 12, 2014, the IRS published final regulations on the ACA’s employer shared responsibility rules. The final regulations provide an optional safe harbor method that employers can use for determining full-time status, called the look-back measurement method. The look-back measurement method involves a measurement period for counting hours of service, a stability period when coverage may need to be provided, depending on an employee’s average hours of service during the measurement period, and an administrative period that allows time for enrollment and disenrollment.

This Legislative Brief provides examples of potential measurement, administrative and stability periods for plan years beginning in each month throughout the 2015 and 2016 calendar years. These examples assume that the employer will be using a 12-month standard measurement period, a two-month administrative period and a 12-month stability period.

It also provides examples of optional transition measurement periods in 2015, if allowed for the plan year. The final regulations allow employers to use shorter measurement periods for stability periods starting in 2015 under the look-back measurement method. For 2015, employers can determine full-time status by reference to a transition measurement period in 2014 that:
• Is shorter than 12 consecutive months, but not less than six consecutive months long; and
• Begins no later than July 1, 2014, and ends no earlier than 90 days before the first day of the first plan year beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2015.

If permitted under the employer shared responsibility rules with respect to their plan years, employers can choose to use either the standard measurement period or the transition measurement period for stability periods beginning in 2015.

PLAN YEAR SELECTION
The final rules state that the plan year must be 12 consecutive months, unless a short plan year of less than 12 consecutive months is permitted for a valid business purpose. A plan year may begin on any day of a year and must end on the preceding day in the following year (for example, a plan year that begins on Oct. 15, 2015, must end on Oct. 14, 2016).

Once established, a plan year is effective for the first plan year and for all subsequent plan years unless it is changed, provided that such change will only be recognized if made for a valid business purpose. Note that a change in the plan year is not permitted if the principal purpose of the change in plan year is to avoid the employer shared responsibility requirements.

CALENDAR-YEAR PLANS
A calendar-year plan is a health plan that has a plan year running on the calendar year. Thus, the plan year of a calendar-year plan is a period of 12 consecutive months beginning on Jan. 1 and ending on Dec. 31 of the same calendar year.

Plan Year: Jan. 1 — Dec. 31
  Standard Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Transition Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Administrative Period Stability Period
2015 Plan Year Nov. 1, 2013 — Oct. 31, 2014 May 1, 2014 — Oct. 31, 2014 Nov. 1, 2014 — Dec. 31, 2014 Jan. 1, 2015 — Dec. 31, 2015
2016 Plan Year Nov. 1, 2014 — Oct. 31, 2015 N/A Nov. 1, 2015 — Dec. 31, 2015 Jan. 1, 2016 — Dec. 31, 2016

 

NON-CALENDAR-YEAR PLANS
A non-calendar-year plan is a health plan that has a plan year that does not run on the calendar year. Thus, the plan year of a non-calendar-year plan is a period of 12 consecutive months beginning in any month after Jan. 1. As a result, the plan year of a non-calendar-year plan will run during parts of two consecutive calendar years.

Plan year: Feb. 1 — Jan. 31
  Standard Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Transition Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Administrative Period Stability Period
2015 Plan Year Dec. 1, 2013 — Nov. 30, 2014 June 1, 2014 — Nov. 30, 2014 Dec. 1, 2014 — Jan. 31, 2015 Feb. 1, 2015 — Jan. 31, 2016
2016 Plan Year Dec. 1, 2014 — Nov. 30, 2015 N/A Dec. 1, 2015 — Jan. 31, 2016 Feb. 1, 2016 — Jan. 31, 2017
Plan year: March 1 — Feb. 28 (or Feb. 29, during a leap year)
  Standard Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Transition Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Administrative Period Stability Period
2015 Plan Year Jan. 1, 2014 — Dec. 31, 2014 July 1, 2014 — Dec. 31, 2014 Jan. 1, 2015 — Feb. 28, 2015 March 1, 2015 — Feb. 29, 2016
2016 Plan Year Jan. 1, 2015 — Dec. 31, 2015 N/A Jan. 1, 2016 — Feb. 29, 2016 March 1, 2016 — Feb. 28, 2017
Plan year: April 1 — March 31
  Standard Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Transition Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Administrative Period Stability Period
2015 Plan Year Feb. 1, 2014 — Jan. 31, 2015 July 1, 2014 — Jan. 31, 2015 Feb. 1, 2015 — March 31, 2015 April 1, 2015 — March 31, 2016
2016 Plan Year Feb. 1, 2015 — Jan. 31, 2016 N/A Feb. 1, 2016 — March 31, 2016 April 1, 2016 — March 31, 2017
Plan year: May 1 — April 30
  Standard Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Transition Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Administrative Period Stability Period
2015 Plan Year March 1, 2014 — Feb. 28, 2015 July 1, 2014 — Feb. 28, 2015 March 1, 2015 — April 30, 2015 May 1, 2015 — April 30, 2016
2016 Plan Year March 1, 2015 — Feb. 29, 2016 N/A March 1, 2016 — April 30, 2016 May 1, 2016 — April 30, 2017
Plan year: June 1 — May 31
  Standard Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Transition Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Administrative Period Stability Period
2015 Plan Year April 1, 2014 — March 31, 2015 July 1, 2014 — March 31, 2015 April 1, 2015 — May 31, 2015 June 1, 2015 — May 31, 2016
2016 Plan Year April 1, 2015 — March 31, 2016 N/A April 1, 2016 — May 31, 2016 June 1, 2016 — May 31, 2017
Plan year: July 1 — June 30
  Standard Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Transition Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Administrative Period Stability Period
2015 Plan Year May 1, 2014 — April 30, 2015 July 1, 2014 — April 30, 2015 May 1, 2015 — June 30, 2015 July 1, 2015 — June 30, 2016
2016 Plan Year May 1, 2015 — April 30, 2016 N/A May 1, 2016 — June 30, 2016 July 1, 2016 — June 30, 2017
Plan year: Aug. 1 — July 31
  Standard Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Transition Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Administrative Period Stability Period
2015 Plan Year June 1, 2014 — May 31, 2015 July 1, 2014 — May 31, 2015 June 1, 2015 — July 31, 2015 Aug. 1, 2015 — July 31, 2016
2016 Plan Year June 1, 2015 — May 31, 2016 N/A June 1, 2016 — July 31, 2016 Aug. 1, 2016 — July 31, 2017
Plan year: Sept. 1 — Aug. 31
  Standard Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Transition Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Administrative Period Stability Period
2015 Plan Year July 1, 2014 — June 30, 2015 N/A July 1, 2015 — Aug. 31, 2015 Sept. 1, 2015 — Aug. 31, 2016
2016 Plan Year July 1, 2015 — June 30, 2016 N/A July 1, 2016 — Aug. 31, 2016 Sept. 1, 2016 — Aug. 31, 2017
Plan year: Oct. 1 — Sept. 30
  Standard Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Transition Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Administrative Period Stability Period
2015 Plan Year Aug. 1, 2014 — July 31, 2015 N/A Aug. 1, 2015 — Sept. 30, 2015 Oct. 1, 2015 — Sept. 30, 2016
2016 Plan Year Aug. 1, 2015 — July 31, 2016 N/A Aug. 1, 2016 — Sept. 30, 2016 Oct. 1, 2016 — Sept. 30, 2017
Plan year: Nov. 1 — Oct. 31
  Standard Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Transition Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Administrative Period Stability Period
2015 Plan Year Sept. 1, 2014 — Aug. 31, 2015 N/A Sept. 1, 2015 — Oct. 31, 2015 Nov. 1, 2015 — Oct. 31, 2016
2016 Plan Year Sept. 1, 2015 — Aug. 31, 2016 N/A Sept. 1, 2016 — Oct. 31, 2016 Nov. 1, 2016 — Oct. 31, 2017
Plan year: Dec. 1 — Nov. 30
  Standard Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Transition Measurement Period (optional for 2015) Administrative Period Stability Period
2015 Plan Year Oct. 1, 2014 — Sept. 30, 2015 N/A Oct. 1, 2015 — Nov. 30, 2015 Dec. 1, 2015 — Nov. 30, 2016
2016 Plan Year Oct. 1, 2015 — Sept. 30, 2016 N/A Oct. 1, 2016 — Nov. 30, 2016 Dec. 1, 2016 — Nov. 30, 2017

MORE INFORMATION
Please contact CIBC of Illinois, Inc. for more information on the employer shared responsibility rules.

CIBC Benefit Consultants Earn Affordable Care Act Certifications

(Kankakee, IL) – Colette Rinehart and Monica Uribe with CIBC of Illinois, Inc. became certified through The National Association of Health Underwriters’ (NAHU) new professional development course on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). This continuing education course for agents has been approved in all 50 states, and Rinehart will receive continuing education credits from the Illinois Department of Insurance.

 

Rinehart and Uribe completed this 10-hour course to receive the most up-to-date information on the key technical components of PPACA and are prepared to counsel their clients on upcoming required healthcare changes and new options for health plans.

 

“By taking this course, Colette and Monica have joined an elite group who is uniquely qualified to assist clients in complying with the new law,” said NAHU CEO Janet Trautwein. “They understand how the market is likely to change over the next few years, and is in the perfect position to advise families and businesses in planning for the future.”

 

Topics of study include:

  • Implementing healthcare reform—overview and politics
  • Grandfathered plans and the small-business tax credit
  • Medicare Part D and non-discrimination rules
  • Patient protection and changes to consumer-directed health plans
  • Medical loss ratio requirements and tax implications
  • W-2 reporting, summary of benefits, waiting periods, essential benefits and community rating
  • Individual mandate, pre-existing conditions and rating reform
  • Health insurance exchanges for individuals and small employers
  • Employer pay or play
  • Self-insured plans

 

“Colette is an incredibly versatile and knowledgeable member of the CIBC team,” said CIBC President and CEO William Johnson. “Her certifications in senior products (Medicare), individual and family health plans, group benefits, and now this unique certification in the Affordable Care Act make her a valuable member of our, as well as our client’s teams.  She is able to provide client-centered solutions across virtually all areas of benefits, which is extremely rare in our industry.”

 

“Monica brings a strong base of knowledge to our medium and large group clients,” added Johnson. “This certification is another example of her dedication to remaining on the cutting edge of our industry.”

 

The National Association of Health Underwriters represents 100,000 professional health insurance agents and brokers who provide insurance for millions of Americans.

 

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Kicking the Can Down the Road: Transition Policy for Canceled Health Plans Extended

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes key reforms that create new coverage standards for health insurance policies, beginning in 2014. For example, effective for 2014 plan years, the ACA imposes modified community rating standards and requires individual and small group policies to cover a comprehensive set of benefits.

Millions of Americans received notices in late 2013 informing them that their health insurance plans were being canceled because they did not comply with the ACA’s reforms. President Obama was criticized that these cancelations went against his assurances that if consumers had a plan that they liked, they could keep it.

Responding to pressure from consumers and Congress, on Nov. 14, 2013, President Obama announced a transition relief policy for 2014 for non-grandfathered coverage in the small group and individual health insurance markets. If permitted by their states, the transition policy gives health insurance issuers the option of renewing current policies for current enrollees without adopting all of the ACA’s market reforms for 2014.

On March 5, 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) extended the transition relief policy for two years to policy years beginning on or before Oct. 1, 2016.  Thus, individuals and small businesses may be able to keep their non-ACA compliant coverage into 2017, depending on the plan or policy year.

Transition Relief Policy

HHS outlined the original transition relief policy in a letter to state insurance commissioners. Under the original transitional policy, health insurance coverage in the individual or small group market that is renewed for a policy year starting between Jan. 1, 2014, and Oct. 1, 2014 (and associated group health plans of small businesses), will not be considered to be out of compliance with specified ACA reforms.

Also, to qualify for the transition relief, issuers must send a notice to all individuals and small businesses that received a cancelation or termination notice with respect to the coverage (or to all individuals and small businesses that would otherwise receive a cancelation or termination notice with respect to the coverage).

 

The transition relief only applies with respect to individuals and small businesses with coverage that was in effect on Oct. 1, 2013. It does not apply with respect to individuals and small businesses that obtain new coverage after Oct. 1, 2013. All new plans must comply with the full set of ACA reforms.

Two-year Extension

Under the transition relief extension, at the option of the states, issuers that have issued or will issue a policy under the transitional relief in 2014 may renew these policies at any time through Oct. 1, 2016, and affected individuals and small businesses may choose to re-enroll in the coverage through Oct. 1, 2016. Policies that are renewed under the extended transition relief will not be considered to be out of compliance with specified ACA reforms.

According to HHS, the extension will ensure that consumers have multiple health insurance coverage options, and that states continue to have flexibility in their markets. Also, some commentators have suggested that the extension was issued to avoid a new round of policy cancellations that would occur shortly before the November 2014 elections.

Transition relief also applies to large employers that currently purchase insurance in the large group market but that, as of Jan. 1, 2016, will be redefined by the ACA as small employers purchasing insurance in the small group market. At the option of the states and health insurance issuers, these large employers will have the option of renewing their current policies through policy years beginning on or before Oct. 1, 2016, without their policies being considered to be out of compliance with the specified ACA reforms that apply to the small group market but not to the large group market.

Also, like the original transition relief, issuers that renew coverage under the extended transition relief must, for each policy year, provide a notice to affected individuals and small businesses.

HHS will consider the impact of the two-year extension and assess whether an additional one-year extension is appropriate.

Specified ACA Reforms

The specified ACA reforms subject to the transition relief are the following reforms that take effect for plan years starting on or after Jan. 1, 2014:

  • Modified community premium rating standards;
  • Guaranteed availability and renewability of coverage;
  • Prohibition of pre-existing condition exclusions or other discrimination based on health status, except with respect to group coverage;
  • Nondiscrimination in health care;
  • Coverage for clinical trial participants; and
  • Coverage of the essential health benefits package.

Notice Requirement

The notice to individuals and small businesses must inform consumers of their options and the protections that are available in other plans. HHS’ guidance from March 5, 2014, includes standard notices that issuers are required to use in order to satisfy the notice requirement.

State Decisions

Because the insurance market is primarily regulated at the state level, state governors or insurance commissioners have to allow for the transition relief in their state.

A number of states decided against permitting insurers to use the original transition policy, including California, Connecticut, Washington, Minnesota, New York, Indiana, Vermont and Rhode Island. Some states, such as Maryland, are allowing renewals with specific provisions.

HHS’s guidance on the transition relief extension outlines the following different options for how states may adopt the transition relief.

  • States that did not adopt the original transition relief and that regulate issuers whose 2013 policies renew anytime between March 5, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2014, including any policies that they allowed to be renewed early in late 2013, may choose to implement the transitional policy for any remaining portion of the 2014 policy year (that is, the transition policy could apply to early renewals from late 2013).
  • States can elect to extend the transitional policy for a shorter period than through Oct. 1, 2016, but may not extend it to policy years beginning after Oct. 1, 2016.
  • States may choose to adopt both the original transitional policy as well as the extended transitional policy through Oct. 1, 2016, or adopt one but not the other, in the following manner:
    • For both the individual and the small group markets;
      • For the individual market only; or
      • For the small group market only.
      • States may choose to adopt the transitional relief policy only for large employers that currently purchase insurance in the large group market but that, for policy years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2016, will be redefined as small employers purchasing insurance in the small group market.

As always, contact us with any questions!

Telecommuting: A Driver or a Drain on Productivity

Telecommuting is the term for working from a remote location, usually an employee’s residence. Workers are connected to employers and company servers via the Internet and are able to communicate regularly in real time using email, instant messaging, webcams and conference calls. Telecommuting can range from working exclusively from a home office to only working at home a few hours every week.

History and Prevalence

The term “telecommuting” was coined in the early 1970s by a University of Southern California professor researching communication and transportation. Companies and government offices began seriously promoting the idea later that decade during the energy crisis.

Technological innovation allowed telecommuting to increase over the next three decades. By 2011, data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics showed that 24 percent of employed Americans work from home on a weekly basis. Another survey by Global Workplace Analytics showed that the rate of telecommuting had increased 73 percent since 2005, and that 2.5 percent of the non-self-employed workforce (roughly 3 million people) primarily works from home.

 But while the overall usage of telecommuting has steadily increased, many companies have chosen not to adopt it, and some have chosen to push back. In 2013, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer prohibited telecommuting in her offices, where it had been established company policy. Yahoo’s shift in policy highlighted some of the downfalls of this way of conducting business.

 Pro and Cons

Telecommuting brings advantages and disadvantages to the way companies do business. Here’s a look at some of them. 

Pro: Increased productivity. While it’s easy to imagine workers shirking their duties at home more readily than in the office, numerous studies show that workers who telecommute are 15 to 55 percent more productive. Two-thirds of employers report increased productivity among their telecommuters.

 Additionally, AT&T reports that employees work an extra five hours per week when telecommuting versus when they are at the office, and Sun Microsystems data shows that employees spend 60 percent of the time they would have used commuting working for the company.

 Pro: Fewer costs. Over half of all employers reported cost savings as a significant benefit to telecommuting. By allowing workers to telecommute, companies reported big savings on real estate, absenteeism and relocation costs. In many areas there are also grants and other financial incentives for companies that offer telecommuting.

Pro: Increased employer flexibility. Telecommuting gives employers the option to hire from across the country without worrying about relocating workers to a central location. Employers can also more readily hire part-time, semi-retired, disabled or homebound workers.

Pro: Healthier employees. Telecommuting relieves the stress caused by commuting and other issues related to the workplace or being away from home. Telecommuters eat healthier and exercise more than their office-bound counterparts, and are less likely to get sick from contagious germs.

Con: Disengagement. Many employers say that telecommuting interferes negatively with the relationship between workers and management, and can foster jealousy and rivalries between telecommuters and non-telecommuters.  Staying connected and supervising employees who work from home can also be a challenge for managers.

 Con: Lack of collaboration. Innovation can be stifled when workers are not physically interacting with each other. This is the main reason cited by Mayer for the discontinuation of Yahoo’s telecommuting policy.

 Con: Technology and security concerns. Not all employees are tech-savvy, and there can be problems trying to remotely access an office network or set up remote meetings. Sensitive company information carries the potential for greater risk of being compromised through unsecure home computers. Additionally, 59 percent of telecommuters do not use their company’s data backup system, risking the loss of hard work and valuable information.

Con: Wasted downtime. Capitalizing on lulls in job tasks between big projects is more difficult to manage when an employee is working from home than when he or she is in the office.

 Legal Issues

In addition to the strengths and weaknesses of telecommuting, employers must recognize legal issues associated with it before deciding it is right for them. The following are legal issues that may need to be addressed.

Property. Make sure you have a clearly stated company policy for employees who are issued company electronics that addresses what to do in the event they are lost, damaged or stolen. Consider insuring more expensive items.

One way to handle company property issues is to have a written policy in place. If you are issuing electronics to your employees, have them sign something that acknowledges their receipt of the equipment, and indicates who is responsible for maintenance and damages.

Privacy. Employees should be made aware of their privacy rights when working from home. Just because work is being performed on a home computer doesn’t mean that it’s exempt from being monitored or inspected by the employer. Though the location may be personal, employees are still acting under the scope of employment.

Security and confidentially. Security concerns arise with workers accessing company information from their home computers. One way to guard against intentional leaking is to require that telecommuters sign a nondisclosure agreement. Have your company outline security measures employees should follow to protect information on their computer from exposure to external forces.

Payroll records and compensation.

Telecommuting presents difficulties for employers in complying with hourly recordkeeping regulations. Employers with telecommuters should set up a way to track those hours and ensure their accuracy.

Similarly, federal rules on overtime and rest and meal breaks apply to telecommuters as much as they do to employees in the workplace. This makes an employer’s obligation to track employee hours especially important.

Employer liability. What happens if an employee slips and falls at home, while on the clock? Or what if an employee commits a crime in the scope of his or her employment while telecommuting? What about workers’ compensation?

Employer liability remains a considerable concern for telecommuting employees. For starters, you should have a specific policy in place to address work-related injuries or torts that occur at a telecommuting employee’s home office.

Telecommuting is not the right fit for every company, but it has a decades-old record of being positive for many organizations. As the business world becomes more ensconced online than ever before, and a younger, more Internet-connected generation moves up the ranks of the workforce, telecommuting may become far more common than it is today. At the same time, there may never be a proper substitute for a centrally located office and face-to-face meetings.

Before your company decides to embrace telecommuting in the future, you must carefully weigh the risks and benefits of instituting a telecommuting policy to ensure it will be an asset to your organization.

 

Affordable Anxiety and Controlled Groups: You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide

Part 1: Parent/Subsidiary Groups

William Johnson, CEO

CIBC of Illinois, Inc.

 

The Affordable Care Act.

It sounds nice on the surface, doesn’t it? Care will be affordable. What’s scary about that? It sounds kind of comforting, actually.

So why it is that business owners and managers are experiencing so much anxiety over something that should be so assuring and transcendently empowering?

Just say it aloud. That may help.

Maybe chant it like a Tibetan Monk.

Oooohmmmmm-bamacare.

Doesn’t that feel better? 

No?

Maybe the anxiety is due to all of the unknowns.

Is your plan compliant? Is it affordable? Does it offer minimum essential benefits?

So how do you plan on finding out? Maybe look under the donuts your broker dropped off today. Is there a map to compliance under the long johns?

No?

Is the benefits fairy going to visit your business one magical night and sprinkle compliance dust all over your health plan?

It would be funny if it wasn’t so critical to your businesses profitability. I hear a lot of business owners profess knee-jerk, semi-political reactions like “I am just going to pay the fines….That’ll teach them”, or “I will just lower the hours to 29 for my part-timers and then I am safe.”

The one I have heard more and more lately is that businesses will split into separate divisions to dodge the 50+ employee threshold for the Shared Responsibility part of the ACA.

While that sounds viable on the surface, you had to know that the IRS is not going to allow a loophole that large to exist…and now we know the final regulations relating to that course of action. The regs are confusing, and like anything relating to the ACA, ever evolving. This article will be the first of three scenarios that speak to how businesses will be classified by the IRS in relation to a Controlled Group and Affiliated Service Group. If you thought you were going to split op your company, or figured that since you had several tax ID numbers for all of your commonly owned subsidiaries you could avoid penalties….think again. There’s a lot more to it than that.

 

What is a controlled group?

To determine their compliance with employee benefit laws, it is important for employers to know whether they are sufficiently linked with one or more businesses to form a controlled group or an affiliated service group.

Under the health care reform law, all employees of a controlled group or an affiliated service group must be counted when determining if an employer is a large employer and tied to the “pay or play mandate.”

A controlled group exists if two or more corporations, trades or businesses (including partnerships and proprietorships) have one of the following relationships:

  • Parent-subsidiary;
  • Brother-sister; or
  • Combination of parent-subsidiary and brother-sister.

Also, constructive ownership….or “attribution rules” apply when determining if a group of organizations is a controlled group. These rules view a person as owning an interest in an organization that is not actually owned by that person.

 

Parent-Subsidiary Controlled Group

A parent-subsidiary controlled group exists when one or more chains of organizations are connected through ownership of a controlling interest with a common parent organization if:

  • A controlling interest in each of the organizations (except the common parent) is owned by one or more of the other organizations in the group; and
  • The common parent organization holds a controlling interest in at least one of the other organizations.

 A controlling interest is ownership of stock having at least 80 percent of total combined voting power of all classes of stock entitled to vote or at least 80 percent of the total value of shares of all classes of stock. For a partnership (LTD), it refers to ownership of at least 80 percent of the profits interest or capital interest of the partnership.

 Here’s an example.  Billy Bob Corporation owns 90 percent of the stock of Ajax Corporation and 80 percent of the stock of Canary Corporation. Ajax Corporation owns 85 percent of the profits of TarHeel LTD. Billy Bob Corporation is the common parent of a parent-subsidiary controlled group consisting of Billy Bob Corporation, Ajax Corporation, Canary Corporation and TarHeel LTD. Image

(The result would be the same if Billy Bob Corporation, rather than Ajax Corporation, owned the 85 percent interest in TarHeel LTD.)

In next week’s article, we will look at the Brother-Sister Controlled Group scenario.

 

 

 

Healthcare Reform and Preventative Services: Just What the Doctor Ordered

By William Johnson

President and CEO of CIBC of Illinois, Inc.

www.cibcinc.com

Most of my time with clients these days is spent on analyzing the impact of Healthcare Reform on their business. The already offer benefits to their employees, and they are making sure that their benefit packages are compliant with the law. ImageThey have had three years of me whispering in their ear (or yelling, as the case may be) about the ins and outs of Healthcare Reform up to this point. Now, plan administrators with over 50 full-time equivalent employees (FTE’s) who do NOT offer affordable health insurance to ALL of their employees are starting to look into their exposure to the law. Even those companies with fewer than 50 FTE’s realize that employees who did not take the insurance at work before now have to look into buying insurance or face penalties themselves. Everybody has to “pay or play”, and we have never been more busy….and that’s just how we like it.

As I talk to prospects who either have a grandfathered plan (a pre-March 2010 plan that has not undergone any substantial changes), or businesses who do not have a group health plan, I have found that some do not know about the free preventative care aspect of the law. If they do, they may not know about all of the updates to the scope of free preventative services that has increased since 2010. Whichever way you fall politically on Healthcare Reform, this aspect has been almost universally accepted as a great thing for employers and employees. Here is a complete list of Covered Preventative services, and as always, give us a call if you need help with this or any other aspect of employee benefits, group health insurance, or Healthcare reform.

Preventive Services for Kids

 

  • Influenza (Flu Shot)
  • Autism screening for children at 18 and 24 months
  • Congenital Hypothyroidism screening for newborns
  • Depression screening for adolescents
  • Dyslipidemia screening for children at higher risk of lipid disorders
    Fluoride Chemoprevention supplements for children without fluoride in their water source
  • Alcohol and Drug Use assessments for adolescents
  • Gonorrhea preventive medication for the eyes of all newborns
  • Hearing screening for all newborns
  • Height, Weight and Body Mass Index measurements for children
  • Hematocrit or Hemoglobin screening for children
  • Hemoglobinopathies or sickle cell screening for newborns
  • HIV screening for adolescents at higher risk
  • Immunization vaccines for children from birth to age 18 —doses, recommended ages, and recommended populations vary:
  • Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Behavioral assessments for children of all ages
    Blood Pressure screening for children
    Cervical Dysplasia screening for sexually active females
  • Human Papillomavirus
  • Inactivated Poliovirus
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella
  • Meningococcal
  • Pneumococcal
  • Rotavirus
  • Varicella
  • Iron supplements for children ages 6 to 12 months at risk for anemia
  • Lead screening for children at risk of exposure
  • Medical History for all children throughout development
  • Obesity screening and counseling
  • Oral Health risk assessment for young children
    Phenylketonuria (PKU) screening for this genetic disorder in newborns
  • Developmental screening for children under age 3, and surveillance throughout childhood
  • Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) prevention counseling and screening for adolescents at higher risk
  • Tuberculin testing for children at higher risk of tuberculosis

 

 

Preventive Services for Women

  • Well-woman visits to obtain recommended preventive services
  • Rh Incompatibility screening for all pregnant women and follow-up testing for women at higher risk
  • Breast Cancer Mammography screenings every 1 to 2 years for women over 40
  • Anemia screening on a routine basis for pregnant women
  • Bacteriuria urinary tract or other infection screening for pregnant women
  • Tobacco Use screening and interventions for all women, and expanded counseling for pregnant tobacco users
  • BRCA counseling about genetic testing for women at higher risk
  • Breast Cancer Chemoprevention counseling for women at higher risk
  • Breastfeeding comprehensive support and counseling from trained providers, as well as access to breastfeeding supplies, for pregnant and nursing women
  • Cervical Cancer screening for sexually active women
  • Gonorrhea screening for all women at higher risk
  • Contraception: Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling, not including abortifacient drugs
  • Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling for all women
  • Folic Acid supplements for women who may become pregnant
  • Gestational diabetes screening for women 24 to 28 weeks pregnant and those at high risk of developing gestational diabetes
  • Hepatitis B screening for pregnant women at their first prenatal visit
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) screening and counseling for sexually active women*
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) DNA Test: high risk HPV DNA testing every three years for women with normal cytology results who are 30 or older
  • Osteoporosis screening for women over age 60 depending on risk factors
  • Chlamydia Infection screening for younger women and other women at higher risk
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) counseling for sexually active women
  • Syphilis screening for all pregnant women or other women at increased risk

Preventive Services for Adults

  • Tobacco Use screening for all adults and cessation interventions for tobacco users
  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (one-time screening for men of specified ages who have ever smoked)
  • Alcohol Misuse screening and counseling
  • Aspirin use for men and women
  • Blood Pressure screening
  • Cholesterol screening
  • Colorectal Cancer screening for adults over 50
  • Depression screening
  • Type 2 Diabetes screening for adults with high blood pressure
  • Diet counseling for adults at higher risk for chronic disease
  • HIV screening for all adults at higher risk
  • Immunization vaccines for adults–doses, recommended ages, and recommended populations vary:
    • Hepatitis A
    • Hepatitis B
    • Herpes Zoster
    • Human Papillomavirus
    • Influenza (Flu Shot)
    • Measles, Mumps, Rubella
    • Meningococcal
    • Pneumococcal
    • Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis
    • Varicella
  • Obesity screening and counseling
  • Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) prevention counseling for adults at higher risk
  • Syphilis screening for all adults at higher risk

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Please consult with a legal professional for legal opinions.

 To get more information on CIBC of Illinois, visit us at www.CIBCINC.Com or call toll free 877-936-3580.

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