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With Employee Benefit Plans, It Pays to Be Proactive
Whether you’re setting up the first required benefits plan for your employees or revisiting and expanding the benefits offered your team, you must be proactive. Determine what business needs are being met by the plan and what your goals are in offering the plan. You’ll also want to pay close attention to federal and state requirements regarding employee benefit plans to make sure the plan you offer complies with all applicable laws. Not taking the time to prepare can mean benefit plans that aren’t well suited to your team, fines for noncompliance, and litigation over poorly chosen or managed employee benefits.

Health Insurance: Your business may choose to offer health insurance plans long before it is required by law, as many employees expect this as a basic benefit. Owners, too, often benefit from the advantages offered by business group policies. Whether your business is required by law to offer insurance or not, you must comply with federal and state requirements. As costs of health insurance rise, quality, affordable health insurance is an attractive benefit to the top talent you’re looking to recruit.

Consider if you want to offer a plan that includes vision and dental benefits and how much the company wants to subsidize the overall costs. Then, look at the options available in your state for employer-provided insurance. There is typically a selection of companies, networks, packages, add-on offerings, and plan administrators who can help you pick a plan for your workforce. Ensuring compliance of the plan and the way it is offered is key.

Life Insurance: Another benefit frequently offered by employers and looked for by employees deciding where they want to work is life insurance. As your workforce matures, offering life insurance also may serve to help retain your best workers and the skills and knowledge they represent. As with health insurance, there are organizations offering policies and sellers who can help you sort through the options and the steps that you must take before offering life insurance policies to your workers.

While life insurance is a relatively low-cost benefit, there are administrative tasks that will fall to your HR department: Setting up plans, collecting and updating employee information, collecting plan premiums, and administering benefits in the event of a death. In some cases, it is possible to offer life insurance only to key employees, so long as you do not discriminate. For example, if your goal is to retain long-term employees, you can offer the benefit to all employees who have been with the company longer than two years.

Disability Benefits: Some states mandate that employers offer disability benefits either as a private plan, offered and administered by the employer, or through a state-run program such as worker’s compensation. The Social Security Administration also provides some disability benefits to disabled workers. Complying with state and federal plans is generally the responsibility of your payroll provider, as is notifying the appropriate agency of hiring and firing decisions. As with any service provider, be sure to confirm these details with your third-party payroll provider before making any assumptions.

Your company may choose to offer additional short-term or long-term disability benefits, especially for certain positions. Even though these plans are being privately offered, they still must be compliant with ERISA and other federal and state laws governing employee benefits. There will likely be disclosure requirements to explain clearly to employees how the policies your business is offering will impact them.

Retirement Plans: Selecting a retirement plan means being clear on what you want to offer your workforce and looking through the various plan options to choose the best plan at the best rates. Depending on your organization, you may offer a 401(k), 403(b), IRA, pension plan, or another option. Each of these types of plans have eligibility requirements to get tax-advantaged treatment, fiduciary requirements for management of the funds both initially and on an annual basis, and constantly evolving regulatory oversight.

The team at Hall Benefits Law can help you with every step of the benefits legal compliance process. We’ve worked with companies in twenty-five states to help them determine benefit policies that meet their needs, comply with federal and state laws, and help them meet business objectives. We can help with plan design, ensure compliance through our Fiduciary Legal Compliance Review paradigm, and establish a relationship with you to ensure ongoing compliance of all your benefit plans. To learn more about our expertise and the services we offer, call 678-439-6236 or visit the Hall Benefits Law website at www.hallbenefitslaw.com .
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