Innovative Benefit Planning Blog

Student Loan Relief Due to COVID-19

Posted On: April 2, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, Retirement Plans

Overview On March 13, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it would waive interest charges, allow for suspended payments and provide assistance to borrowers of defaulted loans for a 60-day period. All information can be found at StudentAid.gov. Who Is Affected? All borrowers who have an outstanding federal student loan, including Direct Loans, Federal Perkins Loans and Federal Family Education Loans owned by the U.S. Department of Education can receive relief. What Type of Relief is Available? Interest Waiver • All interest charges on loans are automatically waived starting on March 13, 2020 for a 60-day period. The U.S. Department of Education could extend this period depending on the status of the COVID-19 national emergency. Administrative Forbearance • Borrowers will have the option to go into administrative forbearance. This means borrowers can stop making payments on the loan without risking default for a 60-day period starting on March…


Telemedicine Wait Times

Posted On: April 2, 2020 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits

In light of the recent COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. The CDC recommends leveraging telemedicine for your unique medical needs to help limit the spread of the virus by eliminating the risk of exposure to the ER, urgent care, and primary care offices. They are recommending members schedule their virtual visits rather than remain in the virtual waiting room for an unknown period of time. For more information, visit here.  Please contact the Innovative Benefit Planning team if you have any further questions.


Market Performance: Tips for Addressing Employee Concerns and Prudent Plan Management

Posted On: March 31, 2020 | Categorized as: Retirement Plans

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and recent market volatility have undoubtedly presented you with new challenges as you care for your employees, families and community. We encourage you to lean on Innovative Investment Fiduciaries as a source for stability during these times. Below is our recent plan sponsor brief with some best practices for addressing the current market situation. This piece includes information on how to handle employee concerns and plan provisions to consider for review. Download PDF here To review your options, feel free to contact Innovative Investment Fiduciaries. We have extensive experience guiding plan sponsors through these decisions. As a CEFEX certified advisor, our fiduciary processes have been vetted and confirmed as following the best industry practices.


CARES Act Provisions

Posted On: March 27, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

On March 27, 2020, Congress passed, and the President signed, an unprecedented 2 trillion dollar stimulus and relief package into law. The law’s nearly 900 pages provide relief for specific industries, including hospitals, airlines, and railroads, as well as cash payments to individuals of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. The bill also contains a number of provisions of direct interest to employers. Small Employers Small businesses (including all businesses under 500 employees and other businesses as defined in section 3 of the Small Business Act and implementing regulations) can qualify for up to $10 million in forgivable loans to be used to cover: Payroll costs (including payments made to independent contractors) during the coronavirus crisis (if employers maintain pre-crisis levels of payroll); Group health benefits, including group health premiums Mortgage interest payments or rent payments Utilities Interest on qualifying debt obligations incurred before the covered period…


DOL Issues Families First Coronavirus Response Act Model Notice

Posted On: March 26, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

DOL Issues Families First Coronavirus Response Act Model Notice As required by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Department of Labor has issued a model notice to be posted by employers. The notice is attached here, and should be posted or distributed to employees in its entirety. To assist employers in complying with their posting obligations, the Department of Labor has issued the following FAQs regarding the posting requirement: Where do I post this notice? Since most of my workforce is teleworking, where do I electronically “post” this notice? Each covered employer must post a notice of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requirements in a conspicuous place on its premises. An employer may satisfy this requirement by emailing or direct mailing this notice to employees, or posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website. Do I have to post this notice in other languages…


COVID-19: Leave Donation Program

Posted On: March 19, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, HR Consulting

Leave donation programs have been considered and implemented by employers for years to allow employees to donate accrued paid time (PTO), vacation or sick leave to a general pool. The time available in this pool serves to be used by fellow employees who have medical emergencies or who are affected by major disasters and have exhausted all paid leave available to them. These programs can provide good-will for employees while serving to fill a need due to unfortunate circumstances. With the advent of the COVID-19 crisis, many employers are considering a Leave Donation Program to lessen the burden of limited Paid Time Off (PTO) available to employees who become ill and to increase camaraderie amongst their employees in the time of a crisis. The rules surrounding a program like this are onerous and can have major tax and compliance implications if not implemented correctly. Here is a summary of rules…


Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Posted On: March 19, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

On March 18, 2020, the President signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. While largely the same as the House bill passed on March 13, the final version of the legislation differs in several material respects from the original legislation, including permitting exemptions for employers with fewer than 50 employees, and providing some limits on the expansion of paid FMLA benefits. In its final form, the act goes into effect starting 4/1/20 and applies to leave taken between 4/1/20 and 12/31/20. See all provisions here. Please contact us with any questions.


COVID-19: Carrier Enhancements

Posted On: March 17, 2020 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits

COVID-19: Carrier Enhancements March 17th, 2020 Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, the CEO’s of major US health insurance companies met at the White House on March 10, 2020 and agreed to waive costs for certain services such as the COVID-19 test, telemedicine services and prescription refill limitations. Whether you are an employer sponsoring a fully-insured or self-funded plan, it is important to understand the insurance companies response to how certain benefits are being enhanced to address this global pandemic.  For the fully-insured health plans these changes are happening automatically.  Self-funded plans thus far have the option to adopt these enhancements. On March 11th, The Internal Revenue Service advised that high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) can pay for COVID-19 related testing and treatment, without jeopardizing their status. This also means that an individual with an HDHP that covers these costs may continue to contribute to a health…


ACA Filings for Employers with NJ Resident Employees Due 3/31

Posted On: March 16, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

ACA Filings for Employers with NJ Resident Employees Due 3/31 March 16th, 2020 As you may be aware, as of January 1, 2019 the State of New Jersey enacted a mandate requiring New Jersey residents to maintain Minimum Essential Health Coverage, mirroring the requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act. As a result, New Jersey’s Health Insurance Market Preservation Act (HIMPA) has added new cumbersome reporting requirements for employers that have New Jersey residents. These applicable employers are now required to provide the state of New Jersey with the federal 1095 health coverage form for each primary enrollee in 2019, by March 31, 2020. While employers who sponsor a fully-insured health plan are ultimately responsible, we’ve been advised that the medical insurance carriers are fulfilling this requirement on your behalf. For self-insured (which includes level-funded plans), employers should contact their payroll company or ACA reporting vendor to determine if they are providing…


Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Posted On: March 16, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

Families First Coronavirus Response Act On March 18, 2020, the President signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. While largely the same as the House bill passed on March 13, the final version of the legislation differs in several material respects from the original legislation, including permitting exemptions for employers with fewer than 50 employees, and providing some limits on the expansion of paid FMLA benefits. In its final form, the law has several provisions that will take effect in 15 days from signing.  Please see provisions here. The bill provides a series of refundable tax credits for employers who are required to provide the Emergency Paid Sick Leave and the Emergency Paid Family and Medical Leave described above. Subject to certain caps, employers may be able to recover 100 percent of qualified sick leave wages and 100 percent of qualified family leave wages. Innovative is tracking the…


COVID-19: Tips and Prevention

Posted On: March 16, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

COVID-19: Tips and Prevention Employees may have questions about what they can do to help manage the situation, and as an employer, you want to be proactive in communicating how to prevent the spread of the virus in the workplace. Innovative has created an easy to download infographic that can be shared with employees to assist with stemming the spread of COVID-19 through helpful tips and what signs and symptoms they need to be aware of.


COVID-19: 7 Important Employer Considerations

Posted On: March 16, 2020 | Categorized as: HR Consulting, Workplace Wellness

COVID-19: 7 Important Employer Considerations As employers prepare for COVID-19 accommodations, Innovative has developed a checklist that offers specific considerations for employers in planning for emergencies like COVD-19. Examples include policies to review, communication strategies to consider and benefits that may be impacted. The Innovative team is here to support any organizational policy needs to ensure you and your team are prepared and protected.


COVID-19 Communicating With Employees

Posted On: March 12, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, HR Consulting, Workplace Wellness

COVID-19 Communicating with Employees March 12th, 2020 As part of their efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, employers should implement an employee communication plan about the illness to employees. The CDC, WHO and OSHA have all created informational material on the virus and its symptoms, prevention and treatment that can be helpful for employees. Please see table below for key resources.     World Health Organization (WHO) Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public   U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Get Your Workplace Ready for a Pandemic (flu-specific but can be adapted to Coronavirus) Pandemic Planning Checklists and Guidance (can be adapted to Coronavirus)   U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Safety and Health Topics: COVID-19 How to Protect Yourself in the Workplace During a Pandemic   U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division (WHD)   Pandemic Flu and the Fair Labor Standards…


Coronavirus And The Workplace

Posted On: March 12, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, HR Consulting

Coronavirus And The Workplace  March 12th, 2020 Dealing with Epidemics and Communicable or Infectious Diseases As the number of reported cases of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to rise, employers are increasingly confronted with the possibility of an outbreak in the workplace. Employers are obligated to maintain a safe and healthy work environment for their employees, but they are also subject to several legal requirements protecting workers. Compliance issues to consider include: The general duty to provide employees with safe workplace conditions imposed by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act. Protection against disability discrimination (including disability-related inquiries and medical examinations) under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Requirements set by federal and state employee leave laws; and The compensation of individuals who miss work due to COVID-19. Employers can utilize resources to become educated and to educate employees: What is the Coronavirus? How is the virus spread? Disease Prevention in…


The “Best” Green Smoothie Recipe

Posted On: March 11, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

green smoothie

The "Best" Green Smoothie Recipe March 11th, 2020 This beginner-friendly green smoothie recipe is full of iron, potassium and vitamins galore AND tastes like a tropical treat! Ingredients I cup of fresh spinach 1 cup water (or unsweetened almond milk) ½ cup of frozen pineapple chunks ½ cup of frozen mango chucks 1 frozen banana* Directions Tightly pack spinach in a measuring cup. Add spinach to blender with water or almond milk.  Blend together until all chunks are gone (Should resemble green liquid when well blended). Add frozen pineapple, mango and banana.  Blend together until smooth and creamy. Pour into a glass and serve immediately. *Not a fan of bananas?  Swap it for ¼ avocado or add another ½ cup of mango.


February 2020 Compliance Recap

Posted On: March 6, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

February was a busy month in the employee benefits world. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released an updated Premium Assistance Under Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) model notice. CMS also issued frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding its recently issued summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) template for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2021. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a bulletin that allows grandmothered plans to be extended through 2021. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released an opinion letter stating that collection of employer shared responsibility penalties under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is not subject to a statute of limitations. The IRS also released an information letter confirming that a cafeteria plan is not required to recognize the permitted election change events under the cafeteria plan regulations. The Department of Labor (DOL) issued an…


Terriann Procida Invited to Join Philadelphia Business Journal Leadership Trust

Posted On: March 5, 2020 | Categorized as: Company News

Terriann Procida invited to join Philadelphia Business Journal Leadership Trust Terriann Procida, CEO, has been invited to join Philadelphia Business Journal Leadership Trust, ​an exclusive community for influential business leaders, executives and entrepreneurs in Greater Philadelphia. Terriann was chosen for membership by the Philadelphia Business Journal Leadership Trust Selection Committee due to her experience, leadership and influence in the local business landscape and beyond. “Philadelphia’s thriving business community is powered by leaders like Terriann,” said Sandy Smith, market president and publisher of the Philadelphia Business Journal. “We’re honored to be creating a space where the region’s business influencers come together to increase their impact on the community, build their businesses and connect with and strengthen one another.” As an invited member, Terriann will contribute articles to the Philadelphia Business Journal website and participate alongside fellow members in Expert Panels. “I am honored to join the Philadelphia Business Journal Leadership Trust…


Proposed Mandatory Anti-Harassment Policy Development and Training Delivery in the State of New Jersey

Posted On: March 4, 2020 | Categorized as: HR Consulting

Proposed Mandatory Anti-Harassment Policy Development and Training Delivery in the State of New Jersey March 4th 2020 On February 18, 2020 New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy presented a new bill to the State Legislature that would require all public and private employers in the state to develop anti-harassment policies and training. The establishment of the proposed bill would, as Governor Murphy and other anti-harassment advocates in the state office asserted, make compliance easier and would also require that employers with more than 50 employees collect and report data on harassment complaints to the state. Currently, New Jersey is one of twelve states that require executive/state government employees receive training but have nothing in place that extends that requirement to private employers. New Jersey would join the nine current states that require anti-harassment training. As your organization considers how it might begin to develop or improve upon existing anti-harassment policies and…


Eat Right, Bite By Bite

Posted On: March 3, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

eat right by bringing your lunch to work

Eat Right, Bite By Bite March 3rd, 2020 The key to achieving optimal health cannot be found in any one food, drink or pill, but rather through your personal commitment to healthy lifestyle behaviors.  Focusing on maintaining and enjoying good nutrition and daily physical activity is the key to success. March is National Nutrition Month, a monthly observance that is supported by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Each March, the Academy focuses attention on healthful eating and this year’s theme Eat Right, Bite by Bite, promotes eating a variety of nutritious foods every day and planning and creating healthful meals each week. Good nutrition doesn’t have to be restrictive or overwhelming.  Small goals and changes can have a cumulative health effect, and every little bit (or bite!) of nutrition is a step in the right direction. EATING ON THE RUN You probably eat out a lot – most of…


Ways Employers Can Deal With Employee Student Loan Debt

Posted On: February 25, 2020 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits, Retirement Plans

Ways Employers Can Deal With Employee Student Loan Debt February 25th, 2020 Student debt has increased dramatically in recent years, creating a financial burden on employees’ ability to save for retirement. Many employers have begun implementing programs to help employees manage student loan debt. Millennials (and their families) are often burdened with significant student loan debt. More than 70 million millennials make up 50% of today’s workforce, and that number is growing. Also, many older workers in the “sandwich generation” are saving for their children’s college. Both of these scenarios provide opportunities for employers to design programs that help employees reduce their financial stress (which often affects productivity), as well as make the company more attractive to talented candidates. To review your options, feel free to contact Innovative Benefit Planning. We have extensive experience guiding clients through these decisions, and would be more than happy to help.


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