Innovative Benefit Planning Blog

Stress Management Tips

Posted On: April 8, 2020 | Categorized as: Workplace Wellness

Stress Management Tips Maintaining your mental and emotional health is essential, and it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself and embrace activities that will help bring you a sense of calm and well-being. Here’s some practical tips which will help: Sleep. Make sure you are getting enough rest each day. Go to bed at a regular time each night and aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep to help boost your mental well-being. Eat healthy. It’s easy to grab a snack or two more frequently when you’re working in your own home and the kitchen is just steps away. Though it’s difficult to go out to the supermarket as often as you did before, keep fresh fruits and vegetables handy. Prep them early in the week and set up snack-size portions that you can grab whenever you are feeling the need to snack. Exercise. Get up…


CARES Act: Impact on Employee Benefits

Posted On: April 7, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, Employee Benefits

CARES Act: Impact on Employee Benefits On March 27, 2020, Congress passed, and the President signed, an unprecedented 2 trillion-dollar stimulus and relief package into law, named the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the CARES Act. This act provides direct stimulus relief to corporations and individuals. While there are many facets to this act, this brief serves to highlight the changes to employee benefits due to the CARES Act. Expanded COVID-19 Testing The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) required group health plans and insurers to provide coverage of certain diagnostic COVID-19 testing and related services without cost-sharing and without preauthorization. The CARES Act expands on these provisions: All testing for COVID-19 must be covered without cost-sharing for fully insured and self-funded plans. In addition to tests approved by the FDA, this includes tests for which: the developer has requested, or intends to request, an emergency use…


COVID-19 Employer Considerations Regarding Employment Decisions and Plan Coverage Changes

Posted On: April 7, 2020 | Categorized as: Employee Benefits, HR Consulting

Due to the recent national health crisis in our country, many employers are considering the best way to handle a temporary economic turndown to best position themselves for recovery once the pandemic ceases and businesses can begin to return to some sense of normalcy. In addition, many employers are also navigating the benefit coverage changes being made by their insurance carrier(s) or by state and/or federal mandates which may include cost considerations, plan document revisions and employee notifications. Below are some explanations regarding various workplace employment options and health plan considerations. Employer/Employee Relationship One of the decisions employers are faced with is how to handle their workforce. Employers and insurance companies are using many terms to describe employer/employee relationships such as reduction in hours. furlough, temporary layoff, and permanent layoff. Many employers desire to keep employee benefits intact during this period. It is important to understand the differences and how…


CARES Act: Impact on your Retirement Plans

Posted On: April 7, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance, Retirement Plans

CARES Act: Impact on your Retirement Plans The CARES Act is the stimulus package the government recently enacted to support the country and economy during and after the coronavirus pandemic. The 880-page Act has many programs and features that affect a wide range of the economy. The points below are some of the highlights and potentially overlooked aspects of how the Act deals with retirement plans. One item to note at the beginning, is that adding these programs or features will require a plan amendment. The deadline for creating this amendment is not until 2022 as the government does not want paperwork slowing down these changes. For more information on all aspects of the CARES Act or any bills we are watching, please consult Innovative Benefit Planning. This is an evolving situation that we will continue to closing monitoring and keep you updated as events happen. Coronavirus Related Distribution (CRD)…


CARES Act: Loans & Tax Credit Provisions

Posted On: April 7, 2020 | Categorized as: Compliance

CARES Act: Loans & Tax Credit Provisions On March 27, 2020, Congress passed, and the President signed, an unprecedented 2 trillion-dollar stimulus and relief package into law, named the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the CARES Act. This act provides direct stimulus relief to corporations and individuals. A large piece of this Act is its loan provisions (which in some cases are forgivable) and tax credit provisions. Below are the details of these provisions: Paycheck Protection Program Overview The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) authorizes up to $349 Billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. All loan terms will be the same for everyone under this program. What is Available? Small Businesses are eligible for forgivable loans up to the lesser of 10 million dollars or 2.5 times the average total monthly payroll costs incurred in the one-year period prior…


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 6 months. All information can be found at StudentAid.gov. Who Is Affected? All borrowers who have an outstanding federal student loan, including defaulted and non-defaulted Direct Loans, Federal Perkins Loans and defaulted and non-defaulted Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) 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 through September 30, 2020 (relief period). The U.S. Department of Education could extend this period depending on the status of the COVID-19 national emergency. Administrative Forbearance Monthly payments on all applicable loans will be automatically suspended from March 13, 2020 through September 30, 2020. Any automatic payments processed in the…


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, download PDF 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.


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