In this issue:

  • PPACA Update: One Year Extension of the Employer Mandate
  • What the DOMA Ruling Means for HR
  • Creating a “Bring Your Own Device” Policy
  • Using Social Media as a Recruiting Tool

PPACA Update: One Year Extension of the Employer Mandate

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was passed on March 23, 2010. The law mandated that on January 1, 2014, employers with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees offer health insurance coverage to employees that meets the minimum standards established by the law or be subject to penalties and fines. HRi has been researching the various provisions of the new law, attending ACA seminars and webinars on a weekly basis, attending panel discussions with individuals involved with the state exchanges, major medical carriers, and the Department of Health and Human Services. HRi has also retained the legal services of a Baltimore-based benefits attorney to assist with deciphering many of the complexities of the new law.

We were prepared to provide you with information regarding the new law and its potential impact to your business and your employees but in a surprising move on July 2, 2013, regulators announced that the effective date of the employer mandate rules of the PPACA will be delayed one year until January 1, 2015. This means that on January 1, 2014, employers with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees WILL NOT be obligated to provide health insurance coverage. This does not imply that employers with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees who currently offer health insurance should discontinue offering this benefit. Employers should keep in mind that the other provisions of the PPACA scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2014, such as the prohibition of pre-existing conditions exclusions for adults and the prohibition of annual dollar limits on essential health benefits, have not had their effective dates modified.

Regulators have indicated that further details and clarification will be forthcoming regarding the delay of the employer mandate and the other provisions of the law that may be affected by this delay. For this reason, HRi is postponing our PPACA communications with you until we receive additional details and clarification so we may provide you with the most accurate and current information available.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Chris Rutzebeck at or by phone at 443-321-7738.

What the DOMA Ruling Means for HR

On June 26, 2013, the US Supreme Court found unconstitutional Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibited the federal government from acknowledging marriages between same-sex couples. This does not mean that same-sex marriage is now legal in the US. The ruling basically states that the federal government will now recognize and treat same-sex marriage in the 12 states (Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington) and the District of Columbia that recognize such marriages as being equal to opposite-sex marriages.

How does this affect HR and employee benefits obligations? There will be changes when it comes to the administration of the following laws:

  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Employees must be permitted to take family and medical leave to care for an ill same-sex spouse.
  • Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). Businesses will have to offer COBRA continuation coverage to same-sex spouses.
  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Employers with pension plans will be required to recognize same-sex spouses for purposes of determining surviving-spouse annuities. Same-sex spouses must also agree to receive payment of their deceased spouse’s pension benefits in a form other than a 50% joint and survivor annuity, with the same-sex spouse as the beneficiary. Employers with a401(k) plan will have to recognize same-sex spouses for purposes of determining death benefits, and same-sex spouses must consent to beneficiary designations.
  • Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). Employers will be required to treat employees’ same-sex and opposite-sex spouses equally for purposes of the benefits extended to spouses. Also, employees will no longer have to pay federal income taxes on the income imputed for an employer’s contribution to a same-sex spouse’s medical, dental or vision coverage. And workers can pay for same-sex spouses’ coverage on a pretax basis under a Section 125 plan.

However, if you live in a state other than the ones that currently recognize same-sex marriages, employee benefits obligations, plan offerings, and federal law administration will not change much – if at all.

Creating a “Bring Your Own Device” Policy

Employers are finding that offering a greater choice in work technologies can:

  • Boost productivity and satisfaction of most employees
  • Reduce capital equipment costs
  • Remove some support burdens from IT
  • Aid in recruiting

While there are many positives to having a BYOD policy, the use of personally owned devices for work also presents threats to data confidentiality, security, and employee privacy. Allowing employees to select and use their own devices can create several issues that should be addressed by employers as part of their employment policies and procedures. These issues include, but are not limited to:

  • Security and privacy
  • What devices will be supported and to what extent
  • Compliance with federal and state laws
  • Employer right to terminate the program
  • Difference between personal and company data
  • Working after-hours on a personal device
  • Who is financially responsible for the device and monthly charges
  • Communication of policy and employee acknowledgement

If you have any questions about developing your own company BYOD policy, please contact Jena Judd, PHR, HR Business Partner.

Using Social Media as a Recruiting Tool

The key to recruiting with social media is to use more than one site, application or platform. Effective talent sourcing is “networking the networks” to recruit across social media. To remain competitive, organizations should explore social media as at least one component of a broader strategy, which can also include posting vacancies on job boards, in newspapers, and attending job fairs.

However, employers should use caution when using social networks for recruiting or when viewing candidates’ personal social media profiles during the recruiting or hiring process. Social media can play a role in the screening process, but employers should consider when and how to use social media this way and weigh potential legal pitfalls including:

  • Access to protected information about candidates
  • Possible violations of fair credit reporting laws
  • Negligent hiring claims

Social media can significantly expand the pool of applicants and shed valuable light on job candidates. But it is important to use a disciplined approach and implement a sound social media policy to remain in compliance with federal and state laws.

Did You Know?

HRi was a sponsor at the CRTC 9th Annual BBQ on the Bay! We had a wonderful time and can’t wait to go back next year! It was held on Thursday, June 27th at The Point at Back Creek (otherwise known as Bembe Beach) in Annapolis.

Rachael Osberger, our Marketing & Communications Coordinator, was also a guest blogger for the BBQ.

Congratulations to our raffle winner Rich Mittleman with Convergence Technologies!

We hope to see you there next year!