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The following articles were posted in 2013.

Why Are Organizations Constructed by Functions?

In the old days before telephones and electric typewriters and certainly before the advent of computers and the internet, people were not only the instrument for delivering organizational processes they often were the process. This framing makes sense for developing a management infrastructure that revolves around the expertise of the processes that one represents. The historical learning curve was so high (think apprenticeships) that there was an efficiency gained by having people accomplish very large volumes of work through their specialized expertise. Historically, these approaches were the only way to create, capture, and pass-on a high level of expertise.

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Posted on November 25, 2013 by David Bowman, COO, Kushner & Company

New Employer Option for Health FSA Carryover Announced

The IRS announced on October 31, 2013 in IRS Notice 2013-71 one of the largest changes yet to Health FSAs– the ability to allow employees to carryover up to $500 of a Health FSA unused balance! The content and timing was a shock to most, and everyone is scrambling to implement these changes for their clients and their employees. But first, what are the details.

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Posted on November 03, 2013 by Ben Cohen, CEBS, Practice Leader, Health and Welfare Benefits

Older Workers and New Assumptions

Consider the following scenarios, and the impact these might have on your organization:

• An older employee is not performing up to standard. He hasn’t been coached because everyone thought he would retire soon.
• A young manager is resisting hiring older workers for IT roles, and refers to them as “old geezers.” Many of the IT positions have been unfilled for six months or more.
• Boomer caregivers experience the challenge that is typical of this “sandwich generation”—having to provide care for children, parents, and often grandchildren and grandparents.
• An organization is losing many qualified, valued employees by offering outdated early retirement packages.

Many of these problematic human resources issues are the result of changing workforce demographic needs that aren’t being met by outmoded, old-fashioned management assumptions. In order for HR professionals to maximize an age-diverse work force, they will need to change their thinking about policies and programs in order to capitalize on this important labor market segment.

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Posted on October 29, 2013 by Cathy Fyock, CSP, SPHR, Senior HR/Business Advisor

Creating Successful Retirement Programs

America has a retirement savings problem: the savings shortage is estimated to be $6 billion. Employers may think that this isn’t their problem, but consider what happens when an employee wants to retire but isn’t able to afford retirement. Unfortunately, the employer pays the price with lowered productivity and morale. There are abundant stories of employees who have “retired in place”—sometimes referred to as RIP employees—those who have retired but remain on the company’s payroll.

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Posted on October 23, 2013 by Tom Voinaroski, Practice Leader, Retirement

What is the Future of HRA Plans Following Health Care Reform?

Many employers in recent years have turned to Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) as a means to lower their overall health expenditures, while taking on a bit more claims risk. Many HRA designs are integrated with an underlying health plan, usually a higher deductible health plan, and utilize the HRA to reimburse employees for some portion of their deductible, coinsurance, or copays. There has been ongoing guidance about the future of HRAs, and Health Care Reform’s impact on them. The latest IRS Notice (Notice 2013-54) confirms and provides additional guidance.

The intent of this article is to focus on the plan designs and pragmatic questions and issues many of our clients face. While there are a number of background and regulatory items behind these answers, we want to focus on the answers themselves rather than the references. In addition, additional guidance may be necessary for plan designs that fall outside of these common descriptions.

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Posted on October 09, 2013 by Ben Cohen, CEBS - Practice Leader, Health & Welfare Benefits

HR Strategy: Going Beyond Operational HR

The HR profession had very ignoble beginnings in the area of personnel. Personnel was a mostly clerical function predominately keeping track of employees. It expanded and became more professionalized, but for many organizations HR functioned in the operational arena.

Today, in order for organizations to not only survive but to succeed, senior leaders have come to realize that in many cases their competitive advantage flows not from internal processes (think manufacturing in the 1960’s), nor from outdoing competitors via technology, but rather by leveraging the strengths of their people. The ability to attract, retain, and engage a workforce is now paramount. Thus, the strategic role of HR has risen to one, if not the most important components of organizational success.

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Posted on October 07, 2013 by Gary Kushner, SPHR, CBP - CEO, Kushner & Company

PPACA Exchange Notice Assistance Available

As you may be aware, an important notice requirement of Health Care Reform (PPACA) is due to be sent out by October 1, 2013, and then to new employees after that.
While certain provisions of PPACA have been postponed for select groups until 2015, the requirement that employers notify ALL employees about the Health Care Exchanges (now called Health Insurance Marketplace) has NOT been postponed. In fact, the Internal Revenue Service recently confirmed (see IRS Notice 2013-45) that this requirement has NOT been postponed.

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Posted on September 03, 2013 by Ben Cohen, CEBS, Practice Leader, Health and Welfare Benefits

Formal Guidance from IRS on Delayed Provisions of PPACA

Initially announced via a Treasury Department blog on July 2, the IRS has issued Notice 2013-45 that officially delay several key elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) due to take effect January 1, 2014. The official announcement delays enforcement until January 1, 2015 for certain ACA provisions regarding information reporting rules and the employer responsibility (“play or pay”) penalty for employers with 50 or more full-time equivalents (FTEs).

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Posted on July 29, 2013 by Ben Cohen, CEBS - Practice Leader, Health and Welfare Benefits

Examine the Trends, Leverage HR Strategies to Transform the Workplace

There are five global trends directly impacting strategic HR and the changing nature of work. They are technological advancement; outsourcing; shifts in demographics and diversity; changes in worker attitudes and values; and globalization. When integrated and examined holistically, these five trends form the basis for HR to construct its strategies specific to the organization’s success.

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Posted on July 17, 2013 by Gary Kushner, SPHR, CBP - CEO, Kushner & Company

Wellness Rules

On June 3, 2013, significant changes to the wellness rules were released by applicable responsible agencies. The changes are some of the most sweeping to date, and are effective for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2014 regardless of the plan’s Grandfathered status.

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Posted on July 11, 2013 by Ben Cohen, CEBS - Practice Leader, Health and Welfare Benefits

Employer Mandate (Pay or Play) and Reporting Requirements Delayed until 2015

On July 2, 2013, the Obama Administration via the Treasury Department issued a notice that enforcement of two key provisions of Health Care Reform/PPACA will be delayed from January 1, 2014 to January 1, 2015.

The two components are 1) that certain employer reporting requirements are delayed; and 2) that a delay in the requirement for employers with 50 or more full time equivalent employees offer affordable, essential health coverage to all full time employees working an average of 30 or more hours per week or pay a penalty.

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Posted on July 11, 2013 by Ben Cohen, CEBS - Practice Leader, Health and Welfare Benefits

DOMA Unconstitutional - Impact on Benefit Plans

The Supreme Court, on June 26, 2013, determined that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. DOMA had prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. While the ruling does not force states that don’t currently recognize same-sex marriage to do so, it will allow the federal government to take steps to acknowledge the marriages from the 12 states and the District of Columbia that already allow same-sex marriages.

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Posted on July 02, 2013 by Ben Cohen, CEBS - Practice Leader, Health and Welfare Benefits

Health Care Reform's New Measurement, Administrative and Stability Periods Design

Health Care Reform, or PPACA, requires employers with 50 or more Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) to offer “affordable” “essential health coverage “to full time employees regularly scheduled to work 30 or more hours per week. For employees who are “regularly scheduled” to work 30 or more hours per week, the determination to offer coverage is pretty straightforward. For current employees who work “variable hours”, or new employees whose expected hours per week are unknown or variable, the calculation becomes a bit more complicated.

Here we will examine the process by which an employer will determine who needs to be offered coverage, or in other words, who is a full time employee.

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Posted on July 02, 2013 by Ben Cohen, CEBS - Practice Leader, Health and Welfare Benefits

90 Day Eligibility Period

The federal agencies responsible for guidance on PPACA published proposed regulations in the March 21, 2013 Federal Register on a requirement under PPACA that prohibits group health plans and health insurance companies from utilizing any waiting period that exceeds 90 days. This largely mirrors and expands the August 30, 2012 IRS and DOL temporary guidance issued in IRS Notice 2012-59.

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Posted on July 01, 2013 by Ben Cohen, CEBS - Practice Leader, Health and Welfare Benefits

Health Care Reform's New Employer Exchange Notice

Originally, employers were to be required to provide a notice about the new Health Care Exchanges (now called Marketplaces) to all active employees by March 1, 2013. However, the deadline was delayed until October 1, 2013. This was meant to allow the Marketplaces in each state to become operational prior to the notice delivery (which was not the case in most states on March 1, 2013). With this new guidance, employers must begin preparations to notify employees about the availability of alternative private health insurance through their state’s Exchanges.

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Posted on July 01, 2013 by Ben Cohen, CEBS - Practice Leader, Health and Welfare Benefits

Developing Empowered Learners

Learning has developed a bad rap. This poor reputation may be grounded in those painfully boring lectures you endured in school, in taking grueling exams or pop quizzes, or perhaps in long hours of study to memorize data you have never once had a reason to reference.

But think about your role as a learner when you were learning to tie your shoes, drive a car, or learn about your new hobby. Didn’t you have an insatiable curiosity about that skill that would serve you well, take you to new places, or provide hours of entertainment?

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Posted on May 28, 2013 by Cathy Fyock, CSP, SPHR - Senior HR/Business Advisor

Moving to the Adults' Table: Nine Strategies to Claim Your "Seat at the Table"

Are you now in the position of wanting to move to that “seat at the table” in the corporate world, and want to be regarded less like an administrator and more like the strategic visionary you want to be? In order to be invited, you will need to be perceived as an executive leader, having mastered the protocols of that role. But what does that mean, and how can you better make that move?

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Posted on May 28, 2013 by Cathy Fyock, CSP, SPHR - Senior HR/Business Advisor

New Guidance on 90-Day Eligibility Periods and Certificates of Creditable Coverage

Recent guidance has been announced regarding the application of the requirement under PPACA that an eligibility period is no longer than 90 calendar days, and it makes a significant change to a common employer practice.

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Posted on May 23, 2013 by Ben Cohen, CEBS - Practice Leader, Health and Welfare Benefits

Model Employee Notice on Availability of the Exchange

State Exchanges become effective for individuals on January 1, 2014, providing employees an alternative to employer-based health insurance coverage. As part of Healthcare Reform, all employers subject to the FLSA (which are virtually all employers of one or more) are required to provide current employees and new hires with written notice of the availability of a Health Insurance Marketplace (also called an Exchange).

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Posted on May 22, 2013 by Ben Cohen, CEBS - Practice Leader, Health and Welfare Benefits

Diagnosing Organizational Growing Pains: Plan to Transform or Plan to Fail?

Why do nine out of 10 small businesses routinely fail? Why do only 4% of new businesses still exist after ten
years? Why are almost half of the 25 companies profiled in Peters’ and Waterman’s “In Search of Excellence” no longer in existence, bankrupt, or performing poorly? Why are only 15% of the 1957 original S&P 500 still on the list today?

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Posted on March 01, 2013 by Cathy Fyock, CSP, SPHR - Senior HR/Business Advisor

2013 IRS Limits Announced

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Posted on January 22, 2013 by GARY B. KUSHNER, SPHR, CBP, PRESIDENT AND CEO

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