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Ask the Experts: FMLA Eligibility

Question: If an employee goes out on FMLA for 12 weeks, when is he eligible for another 12 weeks of FMLA? Answer: The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees eligible employees the ability to take unpaid family or medical leave for up to 12 weeks every 12 months. THE KEY IS IN HOW THE EMPLOYER DESIGNATES …

IRS Clarification of Health FSA “Carryover” and HSA Eligibility

The Chief Counsel Office of the IRS recently released copy of an internal memo discussing how a Health Care Flexible Spending Account (HFSA) plan’s “carryover” provision affects the employee’s eligibility to contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA). The IRS memo is not a regulation, and cannot be relied upon for official guidance, but it …

Repeal of “Small Group” Deductible Caps

On April 1, 2014, H.R. 4302 was signed into law repealing the Affordable Care Act’s caps on “small group” plan deductibles.  The new law, “Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014,” pertains almost exclusively to Medicare payments and operations.  The clause regarding “small group” deductibles is the only item in this law that affects employer-sponsored …

New IRS Guidance Relating to the Treatment of Retirement Plans for Same-Sex Married Couples Since the DOMA Decision

On April 4th, the IRS issued guidance stating that sponsors of qualified retirement plans must recognize same-sex spouses of legally married participants as of the U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding section 3 of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on June 26, 2013. However, the IRS will not require retirement plans to recognize same-sex marriage prior …

From the Hotline: Expired Work Visas and COBRA

Question: Can an employee whose work visa has expired and can no longer be employed in the country be entitled to COBRA coverage? Answer: Please contact your carrier for information relating to your specific plan provisions.  If the individual is remaining in the US but not working, then s/he could be eligible for continuation coverage.  However, the …

From the Hotline: Terminations via Conference Call

Question: What is the protocol for terminations done in any other way rather than face-to-face, if the employee is out of the office and the supervisor is on vacation? Answer: Most HR professionals agree that in-person terminations are the best practice and the preferred method. However, in-person terminations are not always the feasible option. When immediate action …

From the Hotline: Compensation Cut and Paid Vacation

Question: Our company recently cut an employee’s compensation by 20%. Prior to the cut the employee had received 3 weeks’ vacation time and had carried over 2 weeks from the prior year. The employee will now receive compensation when on vacation at the 20% cut in pay. Is this permissible or should the vacation time be …

From the Hotline: Relocation Assistance for New Hires

Question: What are the types of issues an employer should consider when determining relocation assistance for new hires? Answer: When offering a relocation package to an employee, there are many things that employers may consider to determine the appropriate level of benefits and coverage.  While some employers will develop a flat amount that they provide to …

From the Hotline: Counting Missed Work Time for FMLA

Question: How would an employer count missed time for an employee on FMLA when they have a non-traditional work schedule: 7 days on/7 days off. Would it be 12 weeks worked, or 60 work days? Answer: FMLA leave designation and availability is based on the employee’s actual work week (see below): “An employee is entitled to …

From the Hotline: Enrollment in FSA and HSA Accounts

Question: Can an employee enroll in FSA and still have an HSA account, just not contribute to it? Answer: Once an employee is eligible for and establishes an HSA, the funds remain his/her property and s/he can use those funds tax free as long as they are used only for qualified medical expenses. According to IRS …

From the Hotline: Missed COBRA Packets

Question: What are the penalties associated with missed COBRA packets? How far should a company go back to correct deficiencies with COBRA eligible beneficiaries? Answer: COBRA regulations state the legal requirements for compliance and the potential penalties for noncompliance, but do not specifically state how far employers must go back if they failed to be in …

From the Hotline: New FLSA Guidelines on Overtime

Question: What are the new FLSA guidelines on overtime pay? Answer: On March 13, 2014, President Obama directed the Secretary of Labor to begin the process of addressing overtime pay protections, specifically regarding overtime for some exempt workers and simplifying the exempt/non-exempt classification process. There have been no changes made as of this date, but the …

Ask the Experts: Stability Periods and Variable Hour Employees

Question: Does California allow for the use of a standard measurement period and stability period for variable hour employees? I.e. Can an employer require that these employees wait 12 months during the measurement period “safe harbor” available under the Federal ACA regulations, or not because the California AB 1083 doesn’t address this? Answer: Please keep in mind …

West Virginia Employment Law Alert – April 2014

Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act On March 21, 2014, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed into law the Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act (H.B. 4284).  The law makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to: Not make reasonable accommodations to the known limitations related to the pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of a …

South Dakota Employment Law Alert – April 2014

Use of Hand-Held Mobile Devices On March 24, 2014, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard signed legislation (S.B. 13) which makes the use of hand-held mobile telephones while driving a commercial motor vehicle a serious traffic violation.  The law also updates certain references to federal regulations regarding the issuance of commercial driver licenses. The law goes …

 
 
 
 
 
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