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Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

October 25, 2010

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[Guidance Overview]
Election Notice Sent to Employee's Last-Known Address, New Address, and Counsel Was Adequate Despite Return to Employer
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: According to DOL regulations, the COBRA election notice should be sent to the last-known address of the qualified beneficiary, based on the most recent information available to the plan. To this end, employers should have a policy of obtaining up-to-date mailing addresses from departing employees and forwarding them to the plan administrator for COBRA purposes."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

Michigan Federal Court Ruling Backing Health Care Reform Headed for Appellate Court
Excerpt: "A federal judge in Michigan has cleared the way for a Christian public interest law firm to appeal an earlier order upholding the constitutionality of the health care reform law."

Employers Seek U.S. Health Law Exemption to Switch Plans Without Penalty
Excerpt: "Employers may be allowed to switch their health insurers and still be shielded from costly coverage changes mandated in President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul, a White House official said."
(Bloomberg L.P. via San Francisco Chronicle)

Early Retiree Reimbursement Program to Start Accepting Claims
Excerpt: "Government officials who spoke Thursday during a webinar sponsored by the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program said the program would be ready to accept claims as soon as Monday."
(Business Insurance)

Government Employees in Brevard County, Florida, Stockpile Unused Leave Time
Excerpt: "Comprehensive figures are difficult to come by because every government agency's rules and payroll data are different, but a FLORIDA TODAY analysis of records from Brevard County and three of its biggest cities show they owe at least $28 mil.lion worth of unpaid leave time -- and counting."

Companies Examine Health Care Law's Effect on Employee Coverage
Excerpt: "While it's too early to proclaim the demise of job-based coverage, corporate number crunchers are looking at options that could lead to major changes. 'The economics of dropping existing coverage is about to become very attractive to many employers, both public and private,' said Gov. Phil Bredesen, D-Tenn."
(FOX News Network, LLC)

Value of Tax-Dependent Domestic Partner's Health Coverage Isn't FUTA Wages
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: The CCA's conclusion is consistent with earlier private letter rulings in which the IRS addressed this issue . . . ."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

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Benefits in General; Executive Compensation

[Guidance Overview]
Federal Appeals Court Rules Employers Need Not Reimburse H-2B Workers' Immigration-Related Expenses
Excerpt: "Although this decision is binding precedent in the Fifth Circuit (which has jurisdiction over Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas), insofar as the decision may conflict with both the Eleventh Circuit (having jurisdiction over Alabama, Florida, and Georgia) and the DOL's recent interpretation, employers outside the Fifth Circuit should tread carefully with respect to reimbursing H-2B workers for visa, travel, and recruitment expenses where their failure to do so would effectively bring employees' wage below the federal minimum."
(Jackson Lewis LLP)

[Guidance Overview]
New Form 5500 FAQs Address Reportable Compensation for Schedule C Purposes
Excerpt: "EBIA Comment: Very few ERISA plans have plan employees or individual trustees (of the sort apparently envisioned by Q28). However, for those multiemployer plans or large single employer plans that do, these new FAQs clarify Schedule C's broad definition of 'compensation,' under which even reimbursements for properly incurred expenses must be included (provided the otherwise applicable thresholds for reporting trustee or employee compensation are met)."
(Employee Benefits Institute of America)

2010 Information Reporting Program Advisory Committee Public Report
Excerpt: "The purpose of IRPAC is to provide recommendations to the IRS for the continued improvement of the tax information reporting program. IRPAC provides a public forum for the IRS to meet on a regular basis with tax professionals engaged in both the production and use of tax information returns to discuss issues and to work in partnership to develop solutions."
(U.S. Internal Revenue Service)

How to Keep Your Star Employees
Excerpt: "Even if money isn't the best motivator, it still talks. To make a smaller bonus pool go further, fine-tune your timing. Rewards handed out at tough times can have a major impact. It's also smart to rethink your selection process. More companies are paying bonuses to those with hard-to-replace skills instead of just top performers, says Hay Group comp expert Tom McMullen."

As Work Force Changes, Many Misclassified Workers Miss Out on Benefits
Excerpt: "Hiring independent contractors instead of employees can save a company about 35 percent in benefits and taxes . . . . But those savings can evaporate if the company is found to have misclassified those workers because of penalties and lawsuits, among other actions."
(Chicago Tribune)

Webcasts and Conferences

2011 Business Management Conference (2011BMC)
in Arizona on January 15, 2011
presented by National Institute of Pension Administrators

HITECH Compliance Check: What Plan Sponsors and TPAs Should Be Doing Now
Nationwide on October 21, 2010
presented by EBIA / Thomson Reuters

Seven Simple Steps You Can Take To Improve Plan Compliance
Nationwide on November 10, 2010
presented by Pension Pundits, LLC

Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program and Abandoned Plan Program Workshops
in California on December 14, 2010
presented by U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Press Releases

Statement of Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis on Reported Decline in Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

Prescription Drug Abuse in the Workplace on the Rise
Florida Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (FSIPP)

Newly Posted Employee Benefits Jobs

Secretary/Administrative Assistant
for Jennings Law Firm, Ltd. / Dana Consulting Group, Ltd.
in IL

Pension Plan Services Manager
for Sentry Insurance
in WI

Pension Plan Administrator
for Central New Jersey
in NJ

Sr. Manager- Plan Conversions
for Charles Schwab
in TX

Pension Consultant/Administrator
for PenServ, Inc.
in NY

Retirement Plan Supervisor
for SVA Retirement Plan Services, LLC
in WI

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