Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

March 15, 2019

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Shipman & Goodwin LLP
in Hartford CT

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Nicholas Pension Consultants
in Rancho Cordova CA / Corona CA

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RPA
in VA / Telecommute

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[Guidance Overview]

DOL Clarifies That Employee Cannot Decline FMLA Leave When Absence Is Covered by the FMLA

"[T]he employer community has long considered this issue to be a gray area in FMLA administration. Now they have an answer: an employee doesn't get to choose whether or not an absence is covered by the FMLA.... It's not uncommon for collective bargaining provisions or public sector personnel policies to allow employees first to use paid leave, followed by FMLA leave. This opinion letter gives these employers the leverage they need to negotiate CBA provisions and establish policies designating FMLA leave at the earliest opportunity whenever FMLA applies."
FMLA Insights

[Advert.]

Wellness Programs: EEOC Enforcement Actions and Complying with Federal and State Laws

Sponsored by Lorman and BenefitsLink

Apr. 11 webinar. Review design and taxation of incentives, laws that prohibit discrimination based on health factors, and exceptions for certain wellness and supplemental plans. BenefitsLink discount.


[Guidance Overview]

Michigan Paid Sick Leave Effective Date is March 29

"In advance of the upcoming March 29, 2019 effective date of the Michigan statewide paid sick leave mandate, the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs launched a website for the law featuring a paid sick leave model poster and FAQs. These developments come as the state Legislature seeks constitutional clarity on the procedure that led to the amended paid sick leave law and calls into question whether the law, as amended, will in fact be the one to take effect."
Seyfarth Shaw LLP

IRS Information Letter Addresses Return of HSA Contributions to an Employer

"If there is clear evidence of an administrative or process error, an employer may request that the contributions it made to an employee's HSA be returned. This correction should put the employer and employee in the same position that they would have been in if the error had not occurred."
United Benefit Advisors

Sixth Circuit: CBA's General Durational Clause Controls Retiree Health Benefit Vesting Absent Express Contrary Language

"This case reiterates the importance of ensuring that [collective bargaining agreements (CBAs)] clearly and unambiguously reflect the parties' intent with respect to the duration of retiree health benefits. But, as the dissent points out, that will be of little help to retirees or prospective retirees subject to CBAs already in effect." [Zino v. Whirlpool Corp., Nos. 17-3851, 17-3860 (6th Cir. Feb. 15, 2019, unpub.)]
Thomson Reuters / EBIA

Family Leave Proposal Would Require Delay in Social Security Benefits

"Two Republican senators are proposing a policy that would let new parents take up to three months of paid leave, provided they agree to delay their Social Security retirement benefits. The proposal comes as paid family leave is gaining traction with politicians on both sides of the aisle ... Tying Social Security in with a paid leave policy could have pros and cons for American families[.]"
CNBC

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Estimates of the Financial Effects on Social Security of the Child Rearing and Development Leave Empowerment Act (CRADLE Act) (PDF)

"This proposal would allow eligible parents to receive parental leave benefits based on births and adoptions in years 2021 through 2025. The basic monthly parental leave benefit would be equal to the primary insurance amount (PIA) ... as if the parent had become disabled on that date.... Those who elect to receive parental leave benefits for a specified number of months ... would have their normal retirement age (NRA) and their earliest eligibility ages (EEA) increased by twice the specified number of months of parental leave benefit received.... We estimate that, if enacted, this proposal would have a negligible effect on the long -range OASDI actuarial balance (that is, less than 0.005 percent of taxable payroll)."
U.S. Social Security Administration [SSA]

What Does the Future Hold for Employer-Sponsored Health Plans?

"The employment-based health benefits system has a number of advantages over various alternatives.... One of the shortcomings is that it does not guarantee universal coverage, which a Medicare-for-all system could do.... While employment-based coverage is the largest tax expenditure in the U.S. budget, it is also the least per person when compared to other health-coverage-related subsidies.... Capping, reducing, or eliminating the tax preference could generate additional tax revenue to reduce the budget deficit and/or pay down the federal debt."
Employee Benefit Research Institute [EBRI]

Revised IRS Publication 521 Explains Limited Moving Expense Deduction and Exclusion for 2018

"[The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act] suspended the deduction and exclusion for an eight-year period beginning in 2018... [D]uring the suspension there is no tax reason for affected employers to limit moving expense reimbursements to moves that pass the time and distance tests and satisfy the start-of-work requirement. All employer reimbursements will be taxable whether or not those tests are met. This gives employers greater freedom to customize reimbursement policies, but some employers may decline the opportunity because the pre-2018 limitations serve as convenient boundaries[.]"
Thomson Reuters / EBIA

Press Releases

Most Popular Items in the Previous Issue

How Employers Are Fixing Health Care
Harvard Business Review

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David Rhett Baker, J.D., Editor and Publisher  davebaker@benefitslink.com
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BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2019 BenefitsLink.com, Inc. All materials contained in this newsletter are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of BenefitsLink.com, Inc., or in the case of third party materials, the owner of those materials. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notices from copies of the content.

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