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November 17, 2008

Here are the Web's best new links about compliance and cost aspects of plan operation, design and policy.

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[Official Guidance] Text of Final Regulations Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (PDF)
Very large file (12 megabytes); 201 pages. The final regulations are effective January 16, 2009. (Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor)

[Guidance Overview] DOL Press Release Summarizes Key Changes in Final FMLA Regulations
Excerpt: "Provisions in the final rule call for increased notice obligations for employers so that employees will better understand their FMLA rights, while revising the employee notice rules to minimize workplace disruptions due to unscheduled FMLA absences. . . . The final rule modifies the current provision that had been interpreted to allow some employees to notify their employers of their need for FMLA leave up to two full business days after an absence, even if they could provide notice sooner. Under the final rule, the employee must follow the employer's normal and customary call-in procedures, unless there are unusual circumstances." (U.S. Department of Labor)

[Guidance Overview] Final Massachusetts Minimum Creditable Coverage Regulations (PDF)
Excerpt: "Although group health plan sponsors are not required to offer coverage that meets the [Minimum Creditable Coverage] requirements, plan participants and beneficiaries need to know whether their group health coverage meets these standards; or whether they should obtain other coverage in order to avoid a tax penalty. Consequently, plan sponsors that offer coverage for Massachusetts residents, whether insured, self-insured or both, should review their plans to determine whether they meet the [Minimum Creditable Coverage] standards." (Segal)

[Guidance Overview] Milwaukee Becomes Third City to Mandate Paid Sick Leave for Employees
Excerpt: "These recent municipal paid sick leave laws reflect a trend at both the state and municipal level toward heightened obligations on the part of employers to provide paid time off to employees, whether in the form of sick leave or paid family leave. Three states, California, New Jersey and Maryland, currently have laws requiring that employers provide paid family leave. A fourth, Washington, passed a similar law but has delayed implementation due to budget constraints." (Littler)

[Guidance Overview] IRS Releases 2008 Version of Form 3903 for Use by Individuals Reporting Deductible Moving Expenses
Excerpt: "The 2008 Form 3903 is virtually unchanged from the 2007 version. However, the standard mileage rate for individuals who use their own vehicles to move to a new home has changed from 20 cents per mile (for 2007) to 19 cents per mile for January 1-June 30, 2008 and 27 cents per mile after June 30, 2008. . . ." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)

[Guidance Overview] OPM Issues Final Regulations on Emergency Leave-Transfer Program for Federal Employees
Excerpt: "Although these regulations apply only to federal agencies, other employers can establish major disaster or medical emergency leave-sharing programs. The IRS has issued guidance on the tax consequences of major disaster leave-sharing programs . . . ." (Employee Benefits Institute of America)

[Guidance Overview] ERISA Claim Denial Sustained in Accidental Death Case Despite Lack of Causal Proof
Excerpt: "Nally is another in the line of cases wherein an apparent accident is disputed as an excluded sickness under the terms of an accidental death policy. As is often the case, the deferential standard of review played an important role in this decision for the insurance carrier." (Health Plan Law blog by Attorney Roy F. Harmon III)

Study Examines Chronic Disease Management Programs
Excerpt: "The study finds that targeted and well-designed care management programs can improve health outcomes for people with chronic diseases and save money on a predictable basis." (

Obama, Democrats Framing Healthcare Changes as Job-Creation Program
Excerpt: "President-elect Barack Obama and congressional Democrats have begun to frame their proposals for health care and other issues as 'job-creation measures' in response to the current economic downturn, the Washington Post reports." (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

Senate Finance Chairman Fires First Congressional Salvo On Health Care Reform
Excerpt: "The Baucus proposal bears some similarity to Mr. Obama's own reform proposals during the presidential campaign, and has three major elements: increased access, healthy system reform, and financing. This proposal is the first installment of the Baucus plan, and concentrates on the increased access elements." (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business)

Small Firms Shiver as Health Premiums Rise
Excerpt: "[A]s small businesses begin to receive their annual renewal notices, employers and health-insurance brokers in the South, Midwest and California report noticeably steeper rises. Some premium increases being quoted to employers are double those quoted just a few months ago." (Wall Street Journal)

Will Consumer-Directed Health Plans Survive Obama Administration and Democratic Legislature Control?
Excerpt: "Some industry observers . . . suggest that CDH will be in the crosshairs of the new Congress. But others contend it has gained far too much momentum to be derailed." (Inside Consumer-Directed Care)

Employer's Guide to Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses and Domestic Partners (PDF)
38 pages. (Lockton Benefit Group)

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Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview] 2008 Year-End Checkup for Pension and Welfare Benefit Plans (PDF)
17 pages. Excerpt: "This Alert will help identify general year-end administrative and planning issues that could lead to compliance or employee relations problems if not addressed before, or early in, 2009. In addition, we have highlighted recent legislative or regulatory developments that may require plan design or documentation changes." (Aon)

Is the Bailout Package a Template for Future Executive Compensation Regulation?
Excerpt: "[D]espite the possibility of new restrictions, we do not believe compensation committees need to overhaul their core pay-for-performance incentive programs for the coming year. Rather, we advise our clients to take a good look at their existing severance and change-in-control provisions and reconsider their necessity in light of other compensation elements." (Watson Wyatt)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Providing Domestic Partner Health Benefits: Practical Advice for Employers and Service Providers
Nationwide on November 13, 2008
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters

Webcast on COBRA and Texas Specific Continuation of Coverage
Nationwide on November 20, 2008
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

WorldatWork Comments on Legislative Proposal Requiring W-2 Reporting of Employer-Provided Health-Care Costs

Disclosure Of Termination Information - Final Rule
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)

Pensions Experience Record Asset Loss in October
Milliman USA

Chairman Miller Unveils Principles to Preserve and Strengthen 401(k)s in the 111th Congress
U.S. House Education and Labor Committee

Benefit Informatics Offering Personal Health and Cost Management
Benefit Informatics

AIG Will Terminate Voluntary Deferred Compensation Plans
American International Group, Inc. (AIG)

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Retirement Services District Manager
for ADP Retirement Services
in CA, FL, KS, MA, NY, OH, OK, OR, TX

401(k) Plan Administrator
for Retirement Horizons Inc.
in TX

Defined Contribution Administrator
for Pension Strategies, LLC
in AZ

Retirement Consultant
for The Bostonian Group
in MA

Compensation and Benefits Manager
for Grant Thornton LLP
in CA

Pension Actuary
for Westchester Consulting Firm
in NY

Vice President, Health & Welfare Advisory Services
for Sapers & Wallack, Inc.
in MA

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