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January 6, 2006
Today's sponsor: Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

(Click on company name or banner to learn more.)
Banner ad for Employee Benefits Institute of America Inc. (EBIA)

More information and to register

Do you need to update your group health plan notices and procedures for 2006? Let EBIA help! In this 90-minute web seminar, we will review the changes to notice requirements made by the final COBRA and HIPAA portability regulations, as well as notices for Medicare Part D, health FSA grace periods, and HIPAA privacy. There'll be plenty of practical advice for employers and third-party administrators.

Another great EBIA seminar!


(Please visit our sponsors. We try to make sure their products and services will be of interest to you. Thanks! --Editor)

Retooling Time Off to Prevent Employee Burnout and Reward Performance
Excerpt: "Amid signs that time can be as precious to many workers as money, employers are overhauling their time-off policies. The changes are taking several forms, but all partly reflect the rising value employees, particularly younger workers, place on personal time. Recent storms, floods and transit strikes are inspiring companies to examine how they pay workers during such disruptions, to ensure fairness." (The Wall Street Journal Online via CareerJournal.com)

Americans Return Compensation to Employers via Unused Vacation Days
Excerpt: "'This year alone, the value of the vacation days that Americans are projected to give back is estimated at almost $54 billion,' Kari Swartz, Expedia.com product manager for leisure travel, said in a release on the results of Expedia.com's 'Vacation Deprivation' survey. The survey revealed that Americans are likely to give back more than 421 million vacation days in 2005, and each employed US adult is anticipated to leave an average of three vacation days on the table in 2006 ...." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

Opinion: Accounting for Retirees -- Retiree Health Care Costs, That Is
Excerpt: "Financial documents are often best read starting with the footnotes in the back. Take, for instance, the state comptroller's new Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Massachusetts. On Page 116 there is a brief discussion of the bill the state faces for healthcare for retired state employees: ...." (The Boston Globe)

Employers Tackle Obesity-Related Health and Productivity Challenges
Excerpt: "Employers are paying close attention to obesity as a serious health threat that affects their bottom line and takes an enormous personal toll on the workforce. Since obesity is a highly complex medical condition to manage, a range of strategies and tools is needed to help employees maintain or return to healthy weights." (Employee Benefit News)

Maryland Business Group Says the 'Wal-Mart' Bill Illegal
Excerpt: "In an unusual twist after months of lobbying, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce declared Tuesday that a controversial health insurance measure runs afoul of a 30-year-old federal statute limiting the states' roles in employee benefits." (The Gazette)

Unions Take Health Care Benefits Coverage Battle to States
Excerpt: "Labor unions announced Thursday they would pursue legislation in 31 states this year to require large employers, including Wal-Mart, to spend more on health care benefits or contribute to Medicaid." (AP via The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Ford Retirees Join Battle Against Benefit Cuts Aproved by UAW
Excerpt: "Ford Motor Co. retirees have joined retired General Motors Corp. workers in asking the UAW to reconsider health-care benefit cuts that were approved last year without their vote." (Bloomberg News via Detroit Free Press)


Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

Overview: Proposed Changes to FASB Accounting Standards for Pensions/ Postretirement Benefit Plans
Excerpt: "While it seems plausible that investors in large industrial firms with prominent postretirement obligations are well aware of the plans' current positions, they may be less aware of the complete financial picture for companies whose plans constitute a smaller share of total company obligations and market value. A preliminary strategy for responding to the potential accounting changes is to discuss with analysts and investors the likely impact on reported shareholder's equity." (Watson Wyatt Worldwide)

Enrolled Actuaries Report -- Winter 2005 (PDF)
8 pages. This edition includes articles titled: Convergence: The Future of U.S. Pension Accounting and Circular 230 Applies to You! (American Academy of Actuaries)

Taking Stock of Option Expensing
Excerpt: "Employee Stock Options (ESOs) have always had a value, but until recently the accounting cost for the most commonly issued ESOs was $0. New accounting standards requiring a non-zero expense for ESOs in the profit and loss statement (P&L) have raised the bar for ESO valuation." (Contingencies)

Working Paper Abstract: Executive Pensions
Excerpt: "Because public firms are not required to disclose the monetary value of pension plans in their executive pay disclosures, financial economists have generally analyzed executive pay using figures that do not include the value of such pension plans. This paper presents evidence that omitting the value of pension benefits significantly undermines the accuracy of existing estimates of executive pay, its variability, and its sensitivity to performance companies." (National Bureau of Economic Research; paid subscription or individual purchase required to retrieve full-text)

Bankrup.tcy and Employee Benefit Plans-- ERISA and the Bankrup.tcy Code (PDF)
31 pages. Excerpt: "As you can see, the Bankrup.tcy Court is an arena in which the interests of pension plan participants vie with the interests of creditors--creditors of their own and creditors of their employers. Given the increasing numbers of bankrup.tcy case filings, the combat in this arena can only intensify." (Gardner, Carton & Douglas)

Court Says All Options Proceeds Are Community Property
Excerpt: "A state of Washington appeals court has ruled that an ex-Microsoft worker can't keep any of the sale proceeds from his exercised stock options separate from his divorce case." (PLANSPONSOR.com; one-time registration required)

ERIC's January 3, 2006, Comments on Proposed Regulations under Code Section 409A (PDF)
43 pages. Excerpt: "[T]he proposed regulations do not resolve all of ERIC's concerns, and they raise new concerns as well. In this submission, ERIC recommends specific changes in the proposed regulations to resolve ERIC's concerns. ERIC looks forward to working with the Treasury and the Service on these recommendations." (The ERISA Industry Committee)

Jobs Act Significantly Impacts Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plans
Excerpt: "What would your employees say if they had to pay an additional 20% tax on their non-qualified deferred compensation? The American Jobs Creation Act, signed into law by President Bush on Oct. 22, 2004, has substantial rulings relating to non-qualified deferred compensation plans (IRS Code Section 409A). Noncompliance can result in immediate taxation and substantial penalties." (Employee Benefit News)

Checklist: Tune Up Your Clients' Benefit Programs
Excerpt: "Even the best-oiled machines need a little energy boost sometimes. If your clients are large companies, review the pitfalls that could jeopardize the tax-favored status of their employee benefit plans." (Qualified Pension and Profit Sharing Plans, Warren, Gorham & Lamont via Journal of Accountancy)

Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated as of January 3, 2006
Excerpt: "Hewitt's Federal Legislation Quick Guide provides short updates on federal legislation that is currently under active consideration by Congress or has recently been enacted into law regarding health and welfare benefit plans, retirement plans, and human resources and employment law." (Hewitt Associates)

Prominent ERISA Attorney, Roger Siske, Dies at 61 (PDF)
Excerpt: "It with great sadness and shock that I pass on the message below ... regarding the death of our colleague and friend, Roger Siske, yesterday afternoon. I ... salute him for his tremendous contribution to the employee benefits field." (Phyllis Borzi, Esq.)


Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Arkansas on January 17, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in South Carolina on January 17, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in New Hampshire on January 17, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in North Carolina on January 18, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in New Hampshire on January 18, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Oklahoma on January 18, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in California on January 19, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Virginia on January 19, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Illinois on January 24, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Minnesota on January 24, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in West Virginia on January 24, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Illinois on January 25, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Illinois on January 25, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Ohio on January 25, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Ohio on January 26, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Intermediate IRA Seminar
in Indiana on January 26, 2006
presented by Wolters Kluwer Financial Services

Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation - New Section 409A Legislation & Regulations
in New Jersey on January 10, 2006
presented by Worldwide Employee Benefits Network (WEB) - NJ


Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

IBM Changes U.S. Pension Plans, Effective in 2008, as Part of Ongoing Global Retirement Plan Strategy Shift
(IBM)

Council Comments On So-Called 'Fair Share Health Care' Legislation
(American Benefits Council)


Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Health & Welfare Associate
for Towers Perrin
in CA

Retirement Plan Specialist
for American Funds
in VA

Omniplus Conversion Tester
for Prestige Staffing
in CO

401k Conversion Specialist
for Boston Financial Data Services
in MA

Defined Benefit Team Leader
for Mercer HR Services
in MA, RI

Director, Defined Contributions New Business Large
for MassMutual Financial Group
in MA




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