Ask the Experts: Ollis/Akers/Arney

Posted online
Sept 14, 2020
Karen Shannon
VP Business Consulting/CHRO
 
Question: Am I eligible for EFMLEA if my child cannot attend daycare due to COVID exposure?  

Answer: An employee would be eligible for Emergency Family and Medical Leave if the daycare or school is open, but the institution has asked the child to stay at home due to a COVID-19 exposure in the household and a family member is quarantined or awaiting test results.

Aug 10, 2020
Karen Shannon
VP Business Consulting/CHRO
 
Question: Can I receive pay under the FFCRA if I choose to voluntarily self-quarantine?  

Answer: Generally, no. If you become ill with COVID-19 symptoms, you may take paid sick leave under the FFCRA to seek a medical diagnosis or if a health care provider otherwise advises you to self-quarantine. You would not be eligible if you unilaterally decide to self-quarantine for an illness without seeking a medical diagnosis or medical advice, even if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

July 13, 2020
Karen Shannon
VP Business Consulting/CHRO
 
Question: Are sexual orientation or gender identify protected from adverse employment actions?  

Answer: The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision regarding rights of LGBT individuals in the workplace. Title VII forbids employment decisions which take into account an individual’s sex. An adverse employment action based on sexual orientation or gender identity is a decision based in part on an individual’s sex and violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

June 8, 2020
Karen Shannon
VP Business Consulting/CHRO
 
Question: My child’s school moved to online instruction. Is it closed?  

Answer: Yes. If the physical location where your child received instruction or care is now closed, the school or place of care is “closed” for purposes of Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave. This is true even if some or all instruction is being provided online or your child is expected to complete assignments through another format such as “distance learning.”

May 11, 2020
Karen Shannon
VP Business Consulting/CHRO
 
Question: Can my employee qualify for unemployment if they refuse to work due to fear of exposure?  

Answer: Generally, no. Under the CARES Act, an individual may be eligible for benefits if they meet circumstances listed in the Act. There are circumstances under the CARES Act in which specific, credible health concerns could require an individual to quit their job and thereby make them eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Generally, they may be eligible for PUA due to exposure only if they have been dvised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine.

April 11, 2020
Karen Shannon
VP Business Consulting/CHRO
 
Question: What if I’ve already provided paid sick leave for a COVID-related illness?  

Answer: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provides Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Emergency Family and Medical Leave effective on April 1, 2020 and apply to leave taken between April 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020. An employer may not deny an employee paid sick leave even if they provided paid leave for a reason identified in the FFCRA prior to the Act going into effect.

March 8, 2020
Karen Shannon
VP Business Consulting/CHRO
 
Question: How do I help my team work more effectively together?  

Answer: DiSC® behavioral assessments provide a common language that people can use to better understand themselves and the styles of others. Participants learn the characteristics of each DiSC® style and with their customized assessment results, use tailored strategies to better communicate and engage with others. Join our seminar on March 26 to improve sales and working relationships.

February 10, 2020
Karen Shannon
VP Business Consulting/CHRO
 
Question: May employers use genetic information about an applicant or employee to make decisions concerning health benefits?  

Answer: No. Health benefits are part of compensation, terms, conditions and privileges of employment. For example, an employer that fires an employee because of anticipated high health claims based on genetic information or that uses this information as the basis of a hiring decision, would violate Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

Derek Richardson
Advisor
 
Question: Why would I insure a building for more than I paid for it?  

Answer: Most insurance policies are designed to cover the cost of replacement, not fair market value. Most policies contain a penalty if it’s determined that limits are insufficient. According to a recent study, only 25% of commercial buildings were insured using correct values. If an unfortunate event were to occur, would you have enough funds available to replace your building if your insurance company didn’t cover all of the loss?

January 13, 2020
Karen Shannon
VP Business Consulting/CHRO
 
Question: Have you ever been convicted of a crime?  

Answer: Do you have reliable transportation? What would you do if your spouse is transferred? Are these legally defensible interview questions? Join our Navigating the HR Jungle seminar on January 23 to learn about lawful interviewing, federal and state regulations, employment discrimination, taking corrective action, workplace harassment, employee privacy, seven principles of management and more.

Erica Gaynor
Employee Benefits Advisor
 
Question: How do I determine if a self-funded medical plan is right for my business?

Answer: Many factors come in to play, but most importantly is knowing the overall health of your group and the amount of risk you’re willing to take. Fortunately, there have been many changes in the industry over the past few years bringing about level funding designs. With these types of plans, the insurance company takes on the risk, but as the employer, you can reap the benefit if your plan performs better than projected.

December 9, 2019
Karen Shannon
VP Business Consulting/CHRO
 
Question: What are the new options in Health Reimbursement Accounts?  

Answer: Employers may offer two new HRAs to employees effective January 1, 2020. With an Individual Coverage HRA (ICHRA), HRA funds may be used to purchase individual health insurance or Medicare. Under an Excepted Benefit HRA (EBHRA), HRA funds may be used to purchase excepted benefits such as dental and vision benefits. This provides greater flexibility to employers without requiring the HRA be aligned with an employer-sponsored group health plan.

Mindy Pippin
Benefits Risk Advisor
 
Question: What are employers doing to attract and retain quality employees?  

Answer: Core benefits like health insurance and PTO aren’t going anywhere. In fact, many companies will increase their investment to add more value. Yet a greater emphasis will likely shift to perks that impact employees’ day-to-day lives. Student debt, childcare, flexible work and remote work arrangements, pet health care, retirement planning, wellness plans – these are issues that challenge employees on a daily basis that progressive-minded employers have stepped in to help alleviate.

November 11, 2019

Karen Shannon

VP Business Consulting/CHRO
 
Question: How do I help my team deal with changes
in our business?  

Answer: Seventy percent of workplace change initiatives fail. To help your team, describe what’s changing and why. Draw out reactions and feelings; don’t try to push past or overcome them. Talk about what the team can control, elements they cannot control and factors that they can influence. This helps people gain a sense of control again. 

John Akers
VP - Benefits
 
Question: Does your Employee Benefits Program offer options?

Answer: Some employees have high health costs, and therefore they value and will contribute towards richer benefits. Others want the best plan the employer can afford but don’t want to pay for more. A third group of employees, often older but healthy individuals as well as younger families, value health savings accounts with lower-cost, high-deductible health plans. Consider offering multiple plans which address the diverse needs of your workforce. 

October 14, 2019
Karen Shannon
VP Business Consulting/CHRO

Question: When does the new overtime rule take effect? 

Answer: To be exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees must be paid at least $35,568 and meet certain job duties tests. If they are paid less or do not meet the duties test, they must be paid 1 ½ times their regular hourly rate for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. The new rate takes effect January 1, 2020. 

 John Akers

VP Benefits

Question: I’ve made my benefits renewal decisions for 2020. Is there anything else I should do?

Answer: Yes. Now is the time to work with your trusted benefits advisor to finalize and implement your plan for the coming year.  Your plan should address Five Key Areas of focus: Data/Benchmarking | Communication | Enrollment | Compliance | Technology. It should be written with specific timelines and clarity on who is responsible to help accomplish your goals. Now is the time to engage on your next renewal. Do you have a plan?

September 9, 2019 

Cameron Black   Wellness Director/Strategic Advisor

Question: Is employee health the key to a healthy bottom line?

Answer: Most employers feel hopeless as they receive their benefits renewal. Many factors contribute to the renewal, but only one that employers can impact. A strategic wellness program that engages and motivates employees will increase productivity, reduce both absenteeism and presenteeism. Empowering employees to improve their health is a win/win scenario for any organization!

Karen Shannon
VP Business Consulting/CHRO

Question:Have the contribution limits for an HSA increased for 2020?  

Answer: The IRS limits for Health Spending Account (HSA) contributions increase for 2020. Eligible individuals with self-only high deductible health plan (HDHP) coverage will be able to contribute up to $3,550 for 2020, while eligible individuals with family HDHP coverage will be able to contribute up to $7,100 for 2020. The $1,000 catch-up contribution limit that applies to HSA-eligible individuals who are age 55 or older will remain unchanged.

August 12, 2019
Karen Shannon
VP Business Consulting/CHRO

Question: How can we retain our talented staff?

Answer: When people are empowered and excited about their work their productivity, morale, and ultimately, business performance increase significantly. As a leader, you can increase employee engagement and encourage people to stay with your organization by addressing three areas that get to the heart of what really matters to them and that drive their job satisfaction. Join our seminar, Engaging & Retaining Talent, on October 19.

Jeff Eiserman
Senior Risk Advisor

Question: What are the best ways to prevent Cyber Crime in my business?

Answer: According to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, 96% of all financial and phishing crimes are attributed to an employee falling victim to an email scheme.  Take advantage of the resources available and educate your employees on Cyber Crime prevention; it could have a huge impact in reducing this risk to your business.

July 8, 2019
Karen Shannon
VP Business Consulting/CHRO

Question: How can I detect and avoid a gender pay gap in my business?

 Answer: Nationwide women are paid approximately 80% of what men are paid; 78% in Missouri. Employers can take steps to avoid perpetuating this gap. First, establish a compensation structure including salary ranges for positions; remove inquiries about prior salary from your employment application; avoid asking candidates and prior employers about their salary history; and focus your hiring conversation on the predefined salary range. Lastly, conduct a thorough compensation analysis of your current staff to identify issues. 

Erica Gaynor
Employee Benefits Advisor
 
Question: How do I know if the benefits package I offer my employees is competitive in the marketplace?

 Answer: It is extremely important to know how your business performs against others in the industry.  Benchmarking is a process by which your organization can measure and compare data with other similar organizations. This can include, but is not limited to: medical, dental, vision, and life insurance, 401K, paid time off, and sick leave policy. At Ollis/Akers/Arney, we have several tools available to help. Do you want to know how you compare?