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P.O. Box 1750, Cockysville, MD, 21030
Employee Matters Bulletin
Essential Facts About The 2019 Open Enrollment For Health Insurance
You can purchase individual and family health insurance for 2019 during the open enrollment period. Here are several essential facts you should know first.
Know Where to Buy Health Insurance
You can purchase individual health insurance from several sources.
Health insurance agent.
Health insurance company.
Your state’s health insurance marketplace.
Purchase Health Insurance on Time
Between November 1 and December 15, you can purchase individual and family health insurance for 2019. Some states extend the open enrollment through January. View details about your state’s healthcare marketplace at Healthcare.gov.
Remember that you will have to wait an entire year to purchase coverage if you miss the open enrollment period. The only exceptions are if you experience a qualifying event, including:
Divorce or marriage.
Child's birth or adoption.
Loss of health insurance through your employer.
Death or job loss of your spouse or partner who provided your health insurance.
Move outside your HMO’s coverage area.
Verify When Coverage Starts
Purchase health insurance by December 15, and your coverage starts January 1, 2019. Your coverage may not start immediately in the new year if you postpone your insurance purchase.
Compare Four Plan Options
The health insurance marketplace offers four plan options - Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Consider a Bronze plan with a low premium and high out-of-pocket limits if you’re relatively healthy. A Platinum plan includes a high premium with low out-of-pocket expenses and might save you money if you require ongoing treatment.
Review Your Current Plan
You can keep your current insurance plan if you wish since it automatically renews. However, carefully review the plan and any coverage changes. Your premium, provider network, copays, or prescription drug coverage may be different for 2019. You’ll want to switch plans if the changes don’t meet your healthcare needs.
Choose a Short-Term Plan
New for 2019, short-term or catastrophic plans give you another healthcare option. They feature a low premium but are not insurance and are not required to cover the Affordable Care Act’s 10 essential health benefits, which include prescription drugs and pregnancy. While you save money with a short-term plan, your protection decreases, too.
Marketplace Open Enrollment Applies Only to Health Insurance
Open enrollment only applies to individual and family health insurance policies. You can purchase auto, life and other insurance products any time.
You Don’t Have to Purchase Health Insurance
In 2017, Congress eliminated the individual mandate penalty. That means you will not owe a fine if you choose not to purchase insurance for 2019. However, health insurance is important, so carefully consider your specific needs before you drop your coverage. For more information, discuss your open enrollment options with your health insurance agent.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
How to Conduct Employee Evaluations
Employee evaluations are a way for your company to ensure employees performing their jobs properly. They also help your business succeed. Use several tips as you conduct these evaluations thoroughly and fairly.
Gather Relevant Data
Prepare an accurate picture of the employee's performance across the board and for the entire year when you gather relevant data and statistics. This data can include productivity reports, behavior logs and supervisor's reports.
Be Specific if Improvement is Needed
It's not enough to tell an employee that they need to sell more widgets, cooperate better with co-workers or take on a bigger leadership role. You also need to provide measurable suggestions and clear deadlines to help them meet their goals. Consider saying, "You need to sell 20 percent more widgets this quarter" or "I want you to lead the next monthly team meeting."
Sharing negative feedback can be challenging. However, it will help your employee and company grow, so strive for honesty in your evaluations, even if it's tough.
Always include praise in your employee evaluation. Employees who receive positive feedback are more positive, engaged and productive as they do their job.
Ask for Employee Feedback
Use your employee evaluations to build reciprocal relationships. Ask each of your employees to share feedback on your business's performance. They may see issues you don't and will feel valued when their opinions are heard.
Consider Evaluation Manners
Because an evaluation can be stressful for you and your employees, use your manners when scheduling and conducting the evaluations.
Give your employee plenty of notice so they can prepare.
Avoid meeting at high-stress times like Monday morning or during the busy season.
Choose a quiet location.
Allow plenty of time to discuss positive and negative issues.
Prepare to Disagree
Despite clear evidence, your employees may not agree that they are falling short of expectations. Have a policy in place to handle disagreements.
Give the employee an opportunity to prove their side with facts.
Ask the employee to write down why they disagree.
Include this written report in the official written evaluation.
Plan to meet again in a few weeks if necessary to resolve the issue.
After the evaluation, schedule a follow up meeting. It gives you a chance to ensure the employee fixes any problems.
Write a Complete Evaluation
All employee evaluations become part of your employee's file. Be sure it's complete, detailed and easy for an outsider to read in case you must share the evaluation for legal or other reasons.
Employee evaluations help your employees and company grow. Consider implementing these tips for your next employee evaluations
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
What Happens When You Take FMLA During The Holidays?
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives you time off work to care for family concerns. You may need to take FMLA during a holiday, though. What happens then?
Is the Holiday Counted as one of your FMLA Days?
You are entitled to receive a total of 12 workweeks of FMLA leave per year, according to FMLA regulations. Most employers calculate the time in days or hours as they comply with the workweek regulation.
To understand if holidays count toward your FMLA total time, consider these scenarios.
- You take off a full workweek of FMLA and a holiday you are not scheduled to work occurs during that week. Your entire leave is counted against FMLA.
- You take a partial workweek off for intermittent FMLA leave, including a holiday you normally would receive off. The holiday will not count as FMLA.
- You take partial workweek of FMLA, including a holiday that you are normally scheduled to work. Your holiday is counted towards FMLA.
- You take an FMLA day during a holiday week. The FMLA day carries a heavier-than-normal weight and counts as one-fourth of the week rather than one-fifth because you would only work four days rather than five that week.
- You take one or a few FMLA days off during a holiday week, but your work schedule varies each week. Your employer will average your weekly work hours over 12 months to determine how much FMLA you officially used.
- You take a continuous FMLA leave that occurs when your office or company is closed for an extended break around the holidays and you are not expected to report to work. The days of the extended break do not count toward your FMLA total.
Can you Receive Regular Holiday Pay While on FMLA?
FMLA regulations and your employer’s policy determine if you can receive holiday pay while on FMLA leave. The biggest factor is whether or not you would have received holiday pay if you were not on FMLA leave. For example, your employer requires you to meet one of two conditions before they administer holiday pay.
Work the days before and after a holiday.
Use paid time off for the day before and/or after the holiday, such as a vacation or PTO day but not unpaid time off.
In both of these cases, you will receive holiday pay during your FMLA if the FMLA leave is paid. However, you will not receive holiday pay if your FMLA leave is unpaid.
FMLA allows you to care for your family. Talk to your FMLA contact at work to ensure you get the time off you need and the holiday time off and pay to which you’re entitled.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
How to Classify Employees as Exempt or Nonexempt
Employees can be classified as exempt or nonexempt. This classification affects their paychecks, and a misclassification could cost your business thousands of dollars, so understand how to classify employees properly.
Who Determines Classification
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) oversees equal pay, overtime pay, child labor and record keeping standards for employees. This federal law establishes minimum wage and standard work week hours. It also determines an employee's classification as exempt or nonexempt.
Exempt employees are exempt from minimum wage and overtime provisions of the FLSA law. They are not required to receive overtime pay when they work more than eight hours a day or on weekends or holidays.
The FLSA requires that employers pay nonexempt employees 1-1/2 times their normal pay rate for any overtime hour they work. This rate is based on a 40-hour workweek.
The Difference Between Exempt and Nonexempt Employees
According to the FLSA, there are several key differences between an exempt and nonexempt employee.
Exempt employees often work in white-collar jobs often as professionals, executives and administrators. Certain employees in sales, computer and retail industries also exempt. These employees meet certain FLSA tests regarding job responsibilities and duties. They're also paid a certain minimum salary.
Nonexempt employees typically work in blue-collar careers. Examples include clerical, construction, maintenance and semiskilled workers such as laborers and technicians. Nonexempt employees are paid by the hour.
How to Determine Exempt Versus Nonexempt Status
The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division has placed regulations on employee classification. They are based on an employee's salary and duties, so use these guidelines as you properly classify your employees.
Exempt employees are typically paid a salary of at least $455 per week. Its total is not based on the employee's performance or the number of days worked.
An employee's duties rather than job title affect classification. Administrators, executives and professional employees are generally classified as exempt.
Consequences of an Employee Misclassification
Deciding if an employee is exempt or nonexempt can be tricky. You'll want to classify your employees correctly, however, to comply with FLSA and avoid consequences.
As many as 280,000 employees were misclassified in 2016, resulting in the U.S. Department of Labor collecting back wages of over $266 million or an average of $950 per misclassified employee. The common violators worked in construction, food services and retail.
You, too, could face financial implications if you misclassify employees. You would have to pay back wages, fines, penalties and legal fees.
Classifying employees as exempt or nonexempt is important. It's your legal obligation, and you owe it to your employees. For assistance, talk to your financial advisor.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.