Recent Successful Benefit Claim Against Employer Highlights Importance of Prudent Service Provider Selection and Document Review

A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is a reminder to employers that fiduciary responsibility under ERISA is nontransferable, even when a third-party administrator (TPA) commits an error that leads to litigation. Background Kathleen Sullivan was employed by the New York Telephone Company, a predecessor to Verizon, from 1970 to 1978 with an annual income of $18,600. She received Read More

3 Tips to Avoid Holiday Liability Traps

With the holidays right around the corner, employers and HR professionals are shifting their focus to meet the demands of employee, client, and customer expectations. As should be expected, perhaps, the holiday rush presents unique liability traps for the unwary employer. As your employment risk management partner, HBL offers you the following three strategies for managing risk during the holiday Read More

Employee Handbook Series Part 3 of 3: Three Tips to Avoid Hidden Areas of Risk for Multi-State Employers

Legally defensible, consistently followed employment policies can be a crucial risk management tool. On the other hand, however, non-compliant or impractical policies can do more harm than good. For multi-state employers, full legal compliance can be a challenge considering the multiple sources of employment law. Of equal importance, multi-state employers often face the practical challenge of maintaining a consistent Read More

Avoiding Costly ACA Reporting Errors: Key Employer Considerations

Under IRS Code Section 4980H, employers are required to offer health insurance coverage to employees if their business is an Applicable Large Employer (ALE), which is generally any business with 50 full-time or full-time equivalent employees as defined under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Pursuant to Code Section 6056, these employers must report the offering of health insurance coverage.  Form 1095-B is used for Read More

Employee Handbook Series Part 2 of 3: Three Tips to Manage Legal Risk Through a Telework Policy

Considering the increased reliance on remote work (also known as “telework”), a telework policy can serve as a valuable risk management tool.  If you, as an employer, depend on any degree of telework, a legally defensible telework policy will establish your compliance with high-risk areas of employment law and communicate a message of due diligence to employees, agencies, and courts. In response to the increasing Read More

3 Tips to Manage Pay Equity Risk in Hiring and Onboarding

Anticipating new leadership in our administrative agencies, 2021 will likely bring an increased focus on pay equity enforcement. Notwithstanding performance and qualification-based pay differences, starting salary discrepancies often drive pay inequity. As your risk management partner, we offer you the following three strategies to avoid pay equity concerns at the level of hiring and onboarding... Tip #1: Read More

Employee Handbook Series Part 1 of 3: Three Tips to Manage Legal Risk Through a Safe Harbor Policy

Many employers understand that only salaried employees are exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirements. There is, however, understandable confusion (not to mention operational difficulties) surrounding the permissible deductions from exempt employees’ pay. As one example among many, employers generally cannot deduct exempt employees’ pay for absences due to illness or disability, except where the deduction is Read More

Methods for Sheltering Nonqualified Plan Accounts in the Event of Employer Bankruptcy

From iconic retail brands like Neiman Marcus to popular entertainment venues like Chuck E. Cheese, business bankruptcies have escalated in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Company executives invested in Non-Qualified (NQ) plans risk losing a substantial amount in retirement savings due to guidelines set under Section 409A. These guidelines protect NQ plan assets from a change in corporate control but not from a Read More

3 Tips for Avoiding Legal Pitfalls in Addressing Employee Opioid Use

In response to concerns about the opioid epidemic and the employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), on August 5, 2020, released technical assistance documents as guidance on opioid addiction and employment. Although directed at employees and healthcare providers, the EEOC’s guidance reminds employers of the basic parameters of the ADA Read More

3 Tips for Avoiding Liability Traps in Employee Leave Policies

As many businesses across the country are updating their leave policies, we offer the following three (3) tips to avoid employers’ liability traps in employee leave policies. Tip #1 – Review your leave policies for compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act. Unless your organization has a “bona fide benefits plan,” exempt employees’ salaries may not be reduced for absences due to illness or disability without Read More