August 2014 Newsletter
In this issue:
- 3 Benefits of Fantasy Football
- 40% of Employees Would Quit Current Job for Comparable Insurance
- EEOC Issues New Pregnancy Discrimination Guidelines
- Most Account Holders Fail Basic HSA Quiz
- Did You Know?
It's that time of year again. And while it's hard to think of the office fantasy football league as a benefit – it could be a big one.
There's no denying several studies have been conducted that devalue the impact fantasy football has on the workplace. However, the reality is – companies will have to try to figure out for themselves how much of an effect the game has on employee productivity.
If you are deciding whether to encourage league participation or ban it from the office, consider these three ways fantasy football can benefit an organization:
- Improved Employee Morale. People love the game. And if you haven't established specific policies about other social activities during work hours – Facebook, Twitter, etc. – then it's probably in your best interest to let your employees spend time on Fantasy Football. Additionally, when employees feel their employers trust them to do the right thing, they tend to do it.
- Increased Interdepartmental Communication. Fantasy Football gives employees a reason to talk to other workers they may not ordinarily talk to. For example, a sales rep may be able to talk to the CEO because their teams are playing each other, or an accountant may approach the Director of Marketing with a trade offer. The game can serve as a catalyst for a level of communication some employees wouldn't ordinarily have with each other.
- Better Customer Relations. It's not out of the ordinary to see salespeople contact customers with whom they've had a long and prosperous business relationship, and invite them to join their league. Most die-hard fantasy players are in multiple leagues and are always looking for new entrants – and invites often are not limited to close family and friends.
Even if you outlaw the game, chances are employees will find a way to play it behind management's back and isn't there more of an upside in letting your workforce play and converse freely about it while potentially unlocking the benefits above?
According to a survey by the Securian Financial Group, four in ten employees would leave their jobs if they could purchase health insurance on the open market that is comparable to their existing coverage and out-of-pocket expenses.
These results align with a Congressional Budget Office estimate that, because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employees may "choose to supply less labor" – equal to two million jobs – between 2017 and 2024.
Most respondents (91%) said they like the work they do in their current jobs, and 83% are satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their existing health insurance. Even so, many of them would consider trying something different.
More than half (56%) say they have considered leaving their jobs to do something more personal or meaningful but haven't because they need the health insurance they currently purchase in the workplace. Another 43% said they have turned down job offers because the health insurance benefits didn't meet their needs and nearly one-half of married respondents (46%) refused job offers because of unacceptable health insurance coverage, compared to about one-third (34%) of single people.
The survey summary cites key indicators for employers and HR professionals to monitor moving forward:
- How will employers modify their benefit packages, and how will that affect workers' decision to quit or stay on the job?
- Where will the average price points for health insurance for various households emerge on the cost scale under the ACA?
- Will workers pursue their dreams of self-employment, creating new jobs to offset some of the estimated two-million full-time employees who may leave the workforce by 2024?
In July 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new enforcement guidelines on pregnancy discrimination. This guidance, which was not published for public comment prior to its release, updates and replaces the commission's 1983 guidance. The guidance focuses on one of the priorities outlined in the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan – addressing the interaction between the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended in 2008. The biggest change in the guidance is an interpretation of the PDA that would require employers to provide reasonable accommodation to employees who have work restrictions because of pregnancy even if the employee does not qualify as disabled or is not regarded as disabled under the ADA.
Although HRi continues to monitor and review the guidance, we wanted to provide you with initial information on what is included in the updated guidance:
- Coverage under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act including current pregnancy, past pregnancy, potential or intended pregnancy, medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth, and how to interpret "persons similar in their ability or inability to work."
- Equal access to benefits including light duty, leave, healthcare, and various other benefits. The EEOC included a statement that "Employers can violate Title VII by providing health insurance that excludes coverage of prescription contraceptives, whether the contraceptives are prescribed for birth control or for medical purposes." This provision may need to be clarified in light of the Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby case.
- Requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), reasonable break time for nursing mothers under the ACA, and other requirements affecting pregnant workers.
- EEOC's recommended best practices for avoiding unlawful discrimination against pregnant workers.
High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) have been in the market for over a decade now – yet consumers, including current account holders, do not fully understand them. Only 30% of current HSA holders aced a basic HSA proficiency quiz by answering all nine questions correctly. According to the 2014 Consumer and Employer Healthcare Benefits Survey, the results point to a significant consumer education gap and a need for enhanced decision-support resources to help consumers better manage their ever-growing responsibility for healthcare purchases and funding.
Particularly for HSAs, a lack of understanding of the full account value proposition may be hindering adoption, as more than 40% exhibited a lack of understanding of the ability to save beyond the plan year or invest their HSA funds.
Survey findings also revealed that:
- 65% of employers communicate about health benefit enrollment only during the open enrollment period.
- Nearly 60% rely only on plan summary documents and enrollment forms to communicate benefit plan/account options.
- Only a third offer interactive tools such as plan comparison calculators.
Curious to know what the questions and correct answers were? They are listed below.
- Contributions that I make to an HSA are tax-free. A: Correct
- I can leverage my HSA savings to cover future healthcare expenses in retirement. A: Correct
- I gain access to my full annual HSA election amount on the first day of the plan year. A: False (only the amount contributed to date is available for reimbursement)
- If my balance reaches a certain amount, I can invest my HSA contributions. A: Correct
- I can contribute to an HSA regardless of which health plan type I'm enrolled in. A: False (an HSA must be linked to a high-deductible health plan)
- I can change my annual election amount at any time that I want: true
- I can have a healthcare FSA and an HSA at the same time. A: False (participants may not contribute to an HSA if they also have a medical FSA; however, a limited-scope FSA covering dental and vision care is allowed)
- If I don't use my funds by the end of the year, I lose them. A: False (participants do not forfeit or lose any unused funds)
- My employer owns my HSA. A: False (unlike a health reimbursement arrangement, an HSA is owned by the participant)
HRi recently donated monitor calendars and hand sanitizers for gift bags in support of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County (TAAAC) "Celebrate Educators" event at Sandy Point State Park.
The main purposes for this picnic were to thank our county educators for their efforts throughout the year to educate county students and to provide our educators a positive start to the new 2014-2015 school year.
The TAAAC is an advocacy organization which exists to further the professional concerns, economic interest, human and civil rights of its members, and to promote equitable, quality education in Anne Arundel County Public Schools.