2022 Open Enrollment Checklist

2022 Open Enrollment Checklist

2022 Open Enrollment Checklist

To download this entire document as a PDF, click here: Open Enrollment eBook

This Compliance Overview is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice.  Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice. 

In preparation for open enrollment, Employers should review their plan documents in light of changes for the plan year beginning Jan 1, 2021. Below is an Employer 2 Open Enrollment Checklist including some administrative items to prepare for in 2020. 

Health plan sponsors should also confirm that their open enrollment materials contain certain required participant notices, when applicable—for example, the summary of benefits and coverage (SBC). There are also some participant notices that must be provided annually or upon initial enrollment. To minimize costs and streamline administration, employers should consider including these notices in their open enrollment materials.


Out-of-pocket Maximum

Effective for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014, non-grandfathered health plans are subject to limits on cost-sharing for essential health benefits (EHB). The ACA’s out-of-pocket maximum applies to all non-grandfathered group health plans, including self-insured health plans and insured plans.

  • $8,700 for self-only coverage and $17,400 for family coverage out-of-pocket maximum.
  •  $7,050 for self-only coverage and $14,100 for family coverage HSA Maximum. For 2021 plan years, the out-of-pocket maximum limit for HDHPs is $7,000 for self-only coverage and $14,000 for family coverage. 

Preventive Care Benefits 

The ACA requires non-grandfathered health plans to cover certain preventive health services without imposing cost-sharing requirements (that is, deductibles, copayments or coinsurance) for the services. Health plans are required to adjust their first-dollar coverage of preventive care services based on the latest preventive care recommendations. If you have a non-grandfathered plan, you should confirm that your plan covers the latest recommended preventive care services without imposing any cost-sharing.  

More information on the recommended preventive care services is available through the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and www.HealthCare.gov.

Health FSA Contributions

The ACA imposes a dollar limit on employees’ salary reduction contributions to a health flexible spending account (FSA) offered under a cafeteria plan. An employer may impose its own dollar limit on employees’ salary reduction contributions to a health FSA, as long as the employer’s limit does not exceed the ACA’s maximum limit in effect for the plan year. 

The ACA set the health FSA contribution limit at $2,500. For years after 2013, the dollar limit is indexed for cost-of-living adjustments. For 2022 plan years, the health FSA limit is $2,850. The DFSA Rollover Maximum is $570. 

  • Communicate the health FSA limit to employees as part of the open enrollment process.

HDHP and HSA Limits for 2022

If you offer an HDHP to your employees that is compatible with an HSA, you should confirm that the HDHP’s minimum deductible and out-of-pocket maximum comply with the 2020 limits. The IRS limits for HSA contributions and HDHP cost-sharing increase for 2022. The HSA contribution limits will increase effective Jan. 1, 2022, while the HDHP limits will increase effective for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2022.

  • Check whether your HDHP’s cost-sharing limits need to be adjusted for the 2022 limits.
  • If you communicate the HSA contribution limits to employees as part of the enrollment process, these enrollment materials should be updated to reflect the increased limits that apply for 2022.

The following table contains the HDHP and HSA limits for 2022 as compared to 2021. It also includes the catch-up contribution limit that applies to HSA-eligible individuals who are age 55 or older, which is not adjusted for inflation and stays the same from year to year.

Type of Limit20212022Change
HSA Contribution LimitSelf-only$3,600$3,650Up $50
Family$7,200$7,300Up $100
HSA Catch-up Contributions (not subject to adjustment for inflation)Age 55 or older$1,000$1,000No change
HDHP Minimum DeductibleSelf-only$1,400$1,400No change
Family$2,800$2,800No change
HDHP Maximum Out-of-pocket Expense Limit (deductibles, copayments and other amounts, but not premiums)Self-only$7,000$7,050Up $50
Family$14,000$14,100Up $100




Applicable Large Employer Status (ALE)

Under the ACA’s employer penalty rules, applicable large employers (ALEs) that do not offer health coverage to their full-time employees (and dependent children) that is affordable and provides minimum value will be subject to penalties if any full-time employee receives a government subsidy for health coverage through an Exchange.

To qualify as an ALE, an employer must employ, on average, at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees (FTEs), on business days during the preceding calendar year. All employers that employ at least 50 full-time employees, including FTEs, are subject to the ACA’s pay or play rules.

  • Determine your ALE status for 2022
  • Calculate the number of full-time employees for all 12 calendar months of 2020. A full-time employee is an employee who is employed on average for at least 30 hours of service per week.
  • Calculate the number of FTEs for all 12 calendar months of 2021 by calculating the aggregate number of hours of service (but not more than 120 hours of service for any employee) for all employees who were not full-time employees for that month and dividing the total hours of service by 120.
  • Add the number of full-time employees and FTEs (including fractions) calculated above for all 12 calendar months of 2021.
  • Add up the monthly numbers from the preceding step and divide the sum by 12. Disregard fractions.
  • If your result is 50 or more, you are likely an ALE for 2022.

Identify Full-time Employees

All full-time employees must be offered affordable minimum value coverage.  A full-time employee is an employee who was employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week. The final regulations generally treat 130 hours of service in a calendar month as the monthly equivalent of 30 hours of service per week. The IRS has provided two methods for determining full-time employee status—the monthly measurement method and the look-back measurement method.

  • Determine which method you are going to use to determine full-time status
  • The monthly measurement method involves a month-to-month analysis where full-time employees are identified based on their hours of service for each month. This method is not based on averaging hours of service over a prior measurement method. Month-to-month measuring may cause practical difficulties for employers, particularly if there are employees with varying hours or employment schedules, and could result in employees moving in and out of employer coverage on a monthly
  • The look-back measurement method allows an employer to determine full-time status based on average hours worked by an employee in a prior period. This method involves a measurement period for counting/averaging hours of service, an administrative period that allows time for enrollment and disenrollment, and a stability period when coverage may need to be provided, depending on an employee’s average hours of service during the measurement 

Audit FTEs for FMLA Compliance

Audit your FTEs to determine if you have reached or exceeded 50 employees and are required to comply with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in 2022. Employers covered by the FMLA are obligated to provide their employees with certain important FMLA notices, so both employees and the employer have a shared understanding of the terms of the FMLA leave. Note that FMLA compliance requirements are different from ACA compliance. 

Offer of Coverage 

An ALE may be liable for a penalty under the pay or play rules if it does not offer coverage to “substantially all” (95%) full-time employees (and dependents) and any one of its full-time employees receives a premium tax credit or cost-sharing reduction for coverage purchased through an Exchange. For employees who are offered health coverage that is affordable and provides minimum value are generally not eligible for these Exchange subsidies.  The IRS lowered the 2022 employer health plan affordability threshold, or cost-sharing limit, to 9.61% of an employee’s income. The threshold in 2021 was 9.83%. 

  • Offer minimum essential coverage to all full-time employees
  • Ensure that at least one of those plans provides minimum value (60% actuarial value)
  • Ensure that the minimum value plan offered is affordable to all full-time employees by ensuring that the employee contribution for the lowest cost single minimum value plan does not exceed 78% of an employee’s earnings based on the employee’s W-2 wages, the employee’s rate of pay, or the federal poverty level for a single individual.

Reporting of Coverage

The ACA requires ALEs to report information to the IRS and to employees regarding the employer-sponsored health coverage on Form 1095-C. The IRS will use the information that ALEs report to verify employer-sponsored coverage and to administer the employer shared responsibility provisions (Code Section 6056).

In addition, the ACA requires every health insurance issuer, sponsor of a self-insured health plan, a government agency that administers government-sponsored health insurance programs and any other entity that provides minimum essential coverage (MEC) to file an annual return with the IRS and individuals reporting information for each individual who is provided with this coverage (Code Section 6055). 

  • Determine which reporting requirements apply to you and your health plans
  • Determine the information you will need for reporting and coordinate internal and external resources to help compile the required data for the   1094-C and 1095-C
  • Complete the appropriate forms for the 2020 reporting year. Furnish statements to individuals on or before January 31, 2021 has been extended to March 2, 2021 IRS Notice 2020-76., and file returns with the IRS on or before February 28, 2020 (March 31, 2020, if filing electronically).
ACA RequirementDeadline
1095 forms delivered to employeesJan. 31 (extended to March 2)
Paper filing with IRS*Feb. 28
Electronic filing with IRSMarch 31

Comparative Effectiveness Research Fee (PCORI)

Sponsors of self-funded plans and health insurance issuers of fully insured plans are required to pay a fee each year, by July 31st, to fund comparative effectiveness research. Fees will increase to $2.45 per covered life in 2020 and are next due July 31, 2021.

W-2 Reporting

Healthcare Reform requires employers to report the aggregate cost of employer-sponsored group health plan coverage on their employees’ Forms W-2. This reporting requirement was originally effective for the 2011 tax year. However, the IRS later made reporting optional for 2011 for all employers.

The IRS further delayed the reporting requirement for small employers (those that file fewer than 250 Forms W-2) by making it optional for these employers until further guidance is issued. For the larger employers, the reporting requirement was mandatory for the 2012 Forms W-2 and continues.


Summary of Benefits and Coverage 

The ACA requires health plans and health insurance issuers to provide an SBC to applicants and enrollees to help them understand their coverage and make coverage decisions. Plans and issuers must provide the SBC to participants and beneficiaries who enroll or re-enroll during an open enrollment period. The SBC also must be provided to participants and beneficiaries who enroll other than through an open enrollment period (including those who are newly eligible for coverage and special enrollees).

The SBC template and related materials are available from the Department of Labor (DOL).

  • In connection with a plan’s 2020 open enrollment period, the SBC should be included with the plan’s application materials. If coverage automatically renews for current participants, the SBC must generally be provided no later than 30 days before the beginning of the new plan year.
  • For self-funded plans, the plan administrator is responsible for providing the SBC. For insured plans, both the plan and the issuer are obligated to provide the SBC, although this obligation is satisfied for both parties if either one provides the SBC. Thus, if you have an insured plan, you should confirm that your health insurance issuer will assume responsibility for providing the SBCs.

Grandfathered Plan Notice

If you have a grandfathered plan, make sure to include information about the plan’s grandfathered status in plan materials describing the coverage under the plan, such as SPDs and open enrollment materials. Model language is available from the DOL. 

Notice of Patient Protections

Under the ACA, non-grandfathered group health plans and issuers that require designation of a participating primary care provider must permit each participant, beneficiary and enrollee to designate any available participating primary care provider (including a pediatrician for children). Also, plans and issuers that provide obstetrical/gynecological care and require a designation of a participating primary care provider may not require preauthorization or referral for obstetrical/gynecological care.

If a non-grandfathered plan requires participants to designate a participating primary care provider, the plan or issuer must provide a notice of these patient protections whenever the SPD or similar description of benefits is provided to a participant. If your plan is subject to this notice requirement, you should confirm that it is included in the plan’s open enrollment materials. Model language is available from the DOL.



Group health plan sponsors should consider including the following enrollment and annual notices with the plan’s open enrollment materials. 

  • Initial COBRA Notice 

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) applies to employers with 20 or more employees that sponsor group health plans.  Plan administrators must provide an initial COBRA notice to new participants and certain dependents within 90 days after plan coverage begins. The initial COBRA notice may be incorporated into the plan’s SPD.  A model initial COBRA notice is available from the DOL.

  • Notice of HIPAA Special Enrollment Rights

At or prior to the time of enrollment, a group health plan must provide each eligible employee with a notice of his or her special enrollment rights under HIPAA.  This notice may be included in the plan’s SPD.   Model language for this disclosure is available on the DOL’s website.

  • Annual CHIPRA Notice

Group health plans covering residents in a state that provides a premium subsidy to low-income children and their families to help pay for employer-sponsored coverage must send an annual  notice about the available assistance to all employees residing in that state. The DOL has provided a model notice.

  • WHCRA Notice

Plans and issuers must provide notice of participants’ rights to mastectomy-related benefits under the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) at the time of enrollment and on an annual basis.  Model language for this disclosure is available on the DOL’s website.

  • NMHPA Notice

Plan administrators must include a statement within the Summary Plan Description (SPD) timeframe describing requirements relating to any hospital length of stay in connection with childbirth for a mother or newborn child under the Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protections Act. Model language for this disclosure is available on the DOL’s website.

  • Medicare Part D Notices

Group health plan sponsors must provide a notice of creditable or non-creditable prescription drug coverage to Medicare Part D eligible individuals who are covered by, or who apply for, prescription drug coverage under the health plan. This creditable coverage notice alerts the individuals as to whether or not their prescription drug coverage is at least as good as the Medicare Part D coverage. The notice generally must be provided at various times, including when an individual enrolls in the plan and each year before Oct. 15th (when the Medicare annual open enrollment period begins).  Model notices are available on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ website.

  • HIPAA Privacy Notice

The HIPAA Privacy Rule requires covered entities (including group health plans and issuers) to provide a Notice of Privacy Practices (or Privacy Notice) to each individual who is the subject of protected health information (PHI). Health plans are required to send the Privacy Notice at certain times, including to new enrollees at the time of enrollment. Also, at least once every three years, health plans must either redistribute the Privacy Notice or notify participants that the Privacy Notice is available and explain how to obtain a copy.

Self-insured health plans are required to maintain and provide their own Privacy Notices. Special rules, however, apply for fully insured plans. Under these rules, the health insurance issuer, and not the health plan itself, is primarily responsible for the Privacy Notice.

Model Privacy Notices are available through the Department of Health and Human Services

  • Summary Plan Description (SPD)

Plan administrators must provide an SPD to new participants within 90 days after plan coverage begins. Any changes that are made to the plan should be reflected in an updated SPD booklet or described to participants through a summary of material modifications (SMM).

Also, an updated SPD must be furnished every five years if changes are made to SPD information or the plan is amended. Otherwise, a new SPD must be provided every 10 years. 

Summary Annual Report

Plan administrators that are required to file a Form 5500 (> 100 participants in plan) must provide participants with a narrative summary of the information in the Form 5500, called a summary annual report (SAR). The plan administrator generally must provide the SAR within nine months of the close of the plan year. If an extension of time to file the Form 5500 is obtained, the plan administrator must furnish the SAR within two months after the close of the extension period.

Wellness Program Notices 

Group health plans that include wellness programs may be required to provide certain notices regarding the program’s design. As a general rule, these notices should be provided when the wellness program is communicated to employees and before employees provide any health-related information or undergo medical examinations.

  • HIPAA Wellness Program Notice—HIPAA imposes a notice requirement on health-contingent wellness programs that are offered under group health plans. Health-contingent wellness plans require individuals to satisfy standards related to health factors (for example, not smoking) in order to obtain rewards. The notice must disclose the availability of a reasonable alternative standard to qualify for the reward (and, if applicable, the possibility of waiver of the otherwise applicable standard) in all plan materials describing the terms of a health-contingent wellness program. Final regulations provide sample language that can be used to satisfy this requirement.
  • ADA Wellness Program Notice—Employers with 15 or more employees are subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Wellness programs that include health-related questions or medical examinations must comply with the ADA’s requirements, including an employee notice requirement. Employers must give participating employees a notice that tells them what information will be collected as part of the wellness program, with whom it will be shared and for what purpose, the limits on disclosure and the way information will be kept confidential. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has provided a sample notice to help employers comply with this ADA requirement.




Enhance Your Employee Benefits Package.  A competitive benefits package is key to keeping and attracting top talent.  Assess your current benefits package and consider making necessary adjustments to include options, such as expanded mental health support, for example. 


Review Employee Records.  The fourth quarter is a good time to review your employee records and check record retention guidelines. Don’t forget to dispose of outdated termination and outdated job applications properly. With W2s around the corner, make sure all addresses and information are updated.

Develop and Distribute Your 2022 Calendar.  Create and distribute a calendar outlining important dates, vacation time, pay dates, and company-observed holidays for 2022. 

Review and Update Employee Handbook. Review your employee handbook to make sure it is up-to-date and addresses areas, such as employment law mandates, new COVID-related policies, guidelines for remote working, privacy policies, compensation and performance reviews, social media policies, attendance, and time-off, break periods, benefits, and procedures for termination, discipline, workplace safety, and emergency procedures.

PLEASE NOTE: This information is for general reference purposes only. Because laws, regulations, and filing deadlines are likely to change, please check with the appropriate organizations or government agencies for the latest information and consult your employment attorney and/or benefits advisor regarding your responsibilities. In addition, your business may be exempt from certain requirements and/or be subject to different requirements under the laws of your state. (Updated Oct. 3, 2021)

Contact us at (855) 667-4621 or email us at info@medicalsolutionscorp.com


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7 Ways Small Businesses Benefit from a PEO

7 Ways Small Businesses Benefit from a PEO

The number of small and medium-sized employers using professional employer organizations (PEO) continues to increase each year. Often, it is thought that the growth of the PEO industry is due mainly to the benefits business owners see from this partnership. However, owners aren’t the only ones who gain from working with a PEO. 

Small business employees, too, stand to benefit from the services and solutions offered by PEOs today. Let’s take a look at a few examples of the positive outcomes that small business workers see when their employer works with a PEO.

1. Better Benefits 

One of the most well-known advantages to using a PEO is gaining improved, modern benefits and perks. And while better benefits help employers retain and recruit talent, these enhanced perks often provide even greater for employees.

When working with a PEO, employees are given access to a wide-variety of personalized benefits, including:

  • Health insurance
  • Retirement benefits
  • Voluntary benefits (pet insurance, identity theft protection, financial and legal programs, telehealth programs, etc.)
  • Complimentary benefits (discount programs, employee assistance programs, etc.)

By having solid HR policies, a comprehensive benefit package, and employee perks, you are able to create a safe and happy workplace that helps you attract quality employees and retain them to reduce the cost of turnover.

2. Workers’ Compensation Savings

Over the last few years, the workers’ compensation market has gotten a lot tougher for business owners. PEOs help businesses secure competitive rates for workers’ compensation insurance. That can sometimes be challenging for start-up companies, companies with past losses or those with high-risk jobs. PEOs have flexible workers’ compensation programs with more affordable rates than stand-alone policies and staff who help manage the cost of claims, coordinate return-to-work programs and recommend safety training

In most cases, it will be a more cost effective option than the traditional market can offer. We can also include Employment Practices Liability insurance which covers lawsuits arising from wrongful termination, discrimination, and sexual harassment. Issues that are becoming more common in today’s workplace. 

3. Solve HR Issues  

Federal, state and local regulations related to HR are more voluminous and complex than ever. Most businesses don’t have the staff for the in-depth subject matter expertise needed to adequately navigate wage and hour regulations and ensure compliance with the full range of employment and tax laws. When small and mid-sized businesses work with a PEO, they get a team of compliance experts who stay current with all the rules and regulations that apply to employers. 

A PEO also helps manage HR risk by helping clients:

  • Create an employee handbook to include anti-discrimination and harassment policies
  • Familiarize themselves with wage and hour laws
  • Pay employees in accordance with the law
  • Pay employees in a timely manner 

4. Compliance Relief 

PEOs are responsible for staying up-to-date on the latest federal and state labor laws and  regulations. This not only saves you time, but also the frustration that comes with trying to make sense of and implement many of these changes. 

By staying up-to-date on these changes, you can avoid hefty fines and disgruntled employees.

5. Modern HR Tech

 This desire for modern technology has also become an expectation for HR tasks that employees are asked to perform, such as requesting PTO, going through benefit enrollment, and submitted their hours.

The majority of PEOs offer their clients the kind of HR tech that employees want and need. Some even have mobile apps that make tasks as simple as possible for employees!

And most PEOs, through their HR technology, can offer small business employees learning and development programs and software that much larger organizations use.

A great HRIS System is fundamental today. By meeting employee expectations, employers help boost the happiness and ultimately retention of their workforce.

6. Employee Happiness

 Enhanced benefits, robust learning and development programs, and easy-to-use, modern technology all help to boost the employee experience.

 For employees, increased happiness makes their connection to their work and employer greater. And for employers, happy employees mean improved productivity and lesser chance of turnover – studies from the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO) have shown that PEOs help their clients reduce turnover by 10% to 14%.

 A happier workplace and workforce are good outcomes for everyone and working with a PEO can help achieve these goals!

7. Competitive Business and Personal PEO Insurance Quotes 

360PEO can also provide competitive quotes on all of your personal insurance needs. We work with several industry partners to help clients find coverage for many commercial lines of insurance, such as Group Long Term Care Insurance, Executive Benefits, General Liability, Property, and Commercial Auto.

 We also offer personal lines insurance such as renter’s policies, home insurance, and life insurance.  


Learn how our PEO Partnership can help your group please contact us at info@360peo.com or (855)667-4621.

Put You & Your Employees in Good Hands

Get In Touch

For more information on PEOs or a customized quote please submit your contact. We will be in touch ASAP.

IRS Extends ACA Reporting Deadline for Forms 1095 to Individuals

IRS Extends ACA Reporting Deadline for Forms 1095 to Individuals

Breaking:  IRS released Notice extending the due dates for the 2018 inf2018 1095-B Extensionormation reporting requirements for employers to furnish information on returns and statements regarding minimum essential coverage provided to individuals.

Specifically, the notice extends the due date for furnishing the following to individuals: the 2018 Form 1095-B, Health Coverage, and the 2018 Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage, from January 31, 2019 to March 4, 2019.

Lastly, IRS extends the good-faith relief in Notice 2016-70 that applied to filings in 2015 to 2016 and 2017 and now to 2018. This relief applies to missing and inaccurate taxpayer identification numbers and dates of birth, as well as other information required on the return or statement.
To show good faith efforts to qualify for this relief, filers must meet applicable deadlines. However, IRS recognizes that late filers may still be able avoid penalties by showing reasonable cause for missing the due dates.

Contact Us Now   Sign up for compliance alerts.  Learn how our Agency is helping businesses thrive in today’s economy. Please contact us at info@360PEO.com or (855)667-4621. 

The information provided herein is not written or intended as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Entities or persons distributing this information are not authorized to give tax or legal advice. Individuals are encouraged to seek specific advice from their personal tax or legal counsel.

Time Savers Using HR and Benefits Technologies

Time Savers Using HR and Benefits Technologies

Time Savers Using HR and Benefits Technologies

Almost every HR administrator I’ve talked to says that managing benefits and HR can be time-consuming and error-prone. We believe this can be solved with the combined power of the broker and technology. Together, they provide a flexible, customizable HR and benefits technology solution that helps employers save time, reduce errors, and increase employee engagement.

Take on-boarding as an example. Employee Onboarding is an important HR function that directly impacts the engagement levels of new employees in the first few days. That’s why it is no longer treated as just another administration input. At the employer end, it makes sense to invest in an extended and intensive employee onboarding program. This is because, hiring a person involves a lot of contingent costs, and it is best that an employee once hired is retained for the long term. Research shows that employees have a higher chance of leaving the organization within the first 18 months. An effective new employee onboarding program can prevent just that, saving your company time, cost, and other expensive resources. An onboarding program can thus go a long way in improving the efficiency of hiring.

An Introduction to EaseCentral 

Our clients are benefiting of going paperless with SF-based tech partner, Easecentral. As a leading provider of HR and benefits software, EaseCentral understands that the thought of changing your benefits enrollment process can be overwhelming. But if working with more than 1,000 insurance agencies and 40,000 businesses has taught us anything, it’s that switching to online enrollment is worth it. 

“We believe that an electronic trail is better than a paper trail”

In the words of our cleinst  “We believe that an electronic trail is better than a paper trail”. For most clinets under 50 employees a full HRIS system can get punishingly expensive.A leading payroll company charges all incluisve package for $45/month. This pricey journey of HR and benefits technolog can be a turn-off. When we asked our clients if they were interested in an affordable online enrollment that that works with underlying insurance managed by us and payroll the answer is invariably “thats a no brainer”.

After we introduced EaseCentral, it did not take very long to acclimate to using the system. Our Agency help clients with the initial setup. With inutitive system clients hit the ground running. Employees do not need a lot of help either.  In 2016, the first year we used EaseCentral had been successful. We walked employees through how to use EaseCentral. Soon after, they experienced their first open enrollment with technology and without paper.

HR and Benefits Technology in Action

Joe, our long time client and partner of a successful NYC Law Firm  told me that he benefited the most from EaseCentral during open enrollment.  “I have saved a significant amount of time managing documents, filing forms and no longer have to worry about where it all is”. 

Before online enrollment, Joe used a manual checklist to keep track of all of the documentation and paperwork. “With EaseCentral’s HR and benefits technology, I save about 20 hours of work during open enrollment due to online submission of insurance forms. Additionally, each employee at Cyber Advisor saves at least one hour,” said Joe.

Joe also touched on the value of using EaseCentral for new hires’ benefits enrollment. “Not only does the system save me two hours of work per new employee, but my employees appreciate the flexibility the system gives them when choosing their benefits,” he said. This flexibility includes being able to determine what the plan is and what it will cost and viewing and enrolling in benefits at home with dependents.

How Employees Use It







1.First, employees are presented with only the benefit plans they are eligible for.

2.Employees can enroll in all benefit types, including short-term and long-termdisability, HSAs, and telemedicine.

3.Each benefit plan includes in-depth summaries that provide deductible amounts and co-pays. If carriers have educational content like videos, employees can view those inside EaseCentral too.

4.Employees can view side-by-side plan comparisons with the cost per pay period to help them determine which plan brings them and their family the most value. 

5.EaseCentral also provides the accurate cost to the employee of each benefit plan they’re eligible for, and takes into account factors like dependents. Because this process is completed entirely online, employees can share these details with their dependents at home if they choose to.


The benefits of online enrollment continue to make waves for businesses across the nation. Research shows that nearly 8 million businesses will be moving their benefits and HR processes online by 2024.Businesses across the country are increasingly adopting online enrollment software. These are some of the ways, using both technology and a personal touch, you can create a whole world of difference for the new employee. It is about engaging them during their initial time in order to create a sense of belonging and loyalty to the organization so that they remain in the company for a long time to come.

Are you interested in more information on expereincing 21st century HR, Payroll and Benefits Tech integrations? Please join us for Weekly Demo on Thursdays 4PM EST.  

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2018 Top Employee Benefits and Perks

2018 Top Employee Benefits and Perks

2018 Top Employee Benefits and Perks

This article was originally published on the BambooHR blog.At BambooHR, we believe in people.

We believe that the most valuable resources an organization has are its human resources. And we believe in showing employees how valuable they are to the organization. That’s why we encourage offering valuable benefits and perks to employees, and it’s why we have created a culture of appreciation within our own company.

Learn More About Our Compensation Software

It’s a philosophy that’s not necessarily new—the idea that employees who are treated better perform better—but it’s starting to gain momentum in the professional world. Around the world, companies are beginning to realize that offering major benefits like flexible work schedules, unlimited PTO, and unique perks like a vacation reimbursement program can do wonders for morale and productivity.

Unfortunately, despite the growing body of evidence in favor of this philosophy, many employers are still skeptical and reluctant to offer much beyond a steady paycheck. To help convince naysayers that pampering employees promotes productivity, we asked industry professionals about their experiences with offering benefits and perks. The response was overwhelming, and each CEO, COO, and HR professional that responded was in favor of them.

Here, we share with you their insights, experiences and advice. We hope it will inspire you to go and do likewise. It’s our firm belief that as you use benefits and perks to show your workforce that their contributions are appreciated and that they are valued as individuals, you will see engagement levels increase, retention rates improve, and your organization will become more attractive to prospective employees.

The Impact of Benefits and Perks on Employee Engagement and Retention

It’s been a decade since the 2008 economic recession, and as the economy continues to recover, it’s increasingly an employee’s market. This is a fact that’s not lost on those in charge of hiring and retaining employees. Patrick Colvin, Strategic HR Business Partner at the USA Today Network, put it this way:

“Due to the improved economic and job market conditions, the advantage has shifted from the employer to the job seeker, and organizations need to recognize the correlation between benefits and employee retention. In today’s hiring market, a generous benefits package is essential for engaging and retaining your talent.”

It’s becoming harder and harder for employers to ignore: the healthier the job market, the easier it is for employees to jump ship when they find something better. Attracting and keeping employees takes offering them a position at a company where their work is seen as a valuable contribution.

“Benefits and perks are a huge part of employee engagement and retention,” says Mary Pharris of Fairygodboss. “For companies to attract top talent and retain them, competitive benefit packages are essential. Employees rely on a variety of benefits from employers, so making sure you’re offering competitive and desired benefits will help you in attracting talent.”

While not everyone agrees that attracting talent is the goal of perks and benefits, the belief in its power to boost engagement and retention is both ubiquitous and unanimous. “While benefits are not a large driver of talent acquisition,” says Jody Ordioni, Founder of Brandemix, “they have a tremendous positive impact on engagement and retention, especially now that millennials represent 30+ percent of today’s workforce.”

Most importantly, offering a generous benefits package has a non-trivial impact, observable by many businesses. According to Lee Fisher, HR manager at Blinds Direct,  “For us, these perks are tremendously important, from the moment an applicant sees a job ad and applies for a job here. Five or six years down the line, employee benefits continue to play a major role in keeping our valuable team members happy.”

Five or six years down the line, employee benefits continue to play a major role in keeping our valuable team members happy.Click To Tweet

It seems every company that’s putting this philosophy into practice is noticing a difference. “Company benefits play a huge role in employee retention,” says Steve Pritchard, founder of Cuuver. “It’s a two-way street; if an employer is flexible and offers great benefits, staff are generally more likely to want to stay working for them and appreciate the perks they are being offered that they may not get at another company.”

Is There a Downside to Benefits and Perks?

Finding Balance

Despite the growing evidence, some businesses are still skeptical. The high price of some benefits may intimidate a cost-conscious professional. Some even believe their workforce can’t be trusted with the freedom and responsibility of benefits like flexible work schedules. Some don’t think they need or deserve such luxuries.

Giving people more stuff won’t make them happier, but perks that support the company’s values, mission, and purpose will.Click To Tweet

It may even be a simple lack of thinking outside the box on the part of the employer. Whatever the reason, each employer may be overlooking an important fact—that without their team, they don’t have a business. Benefits and perks are investments in your workforce, and they pay dividends in the form of loyalty and dedication to the company. Lisa Oyler, HR director at Access Perks, agrees:

We always say that no company has ever suffered from trying to be more empathetic to their customers and employees. The cost and effort are worth it when you consider the huge advantages of employee engagement and retention and the costs of turnover and disengagement.


Steve Pritchard of Cuuver put it this way:

In my experience, employees are very appreciative of the perks they are given and do not abuse them. I can’t say this will be the same in every business, but because these benefits are there to make them happier, employees generally make the most of them and perform better. Some companies believe that having strict rules and no extra benefits is the way to go – which is why they don’t hold on to their best staff members for very long.

There are several strategies—which can be implemented simultaneously—for achieving a balance between keeping costs in check and offering a generous benefits package.

Mollie Delp, HR specialist at Workshop Digital proposes one way: “Everyone has to be mindful that you still have to get your work done and that client needs will always come first.”

Wayne Sleight, COO of 97th Floor proposes another strategy: “Giving people more stuff won’t make them happier, but perks that support the company’s values, mission, and purpose will.”

Lisa Oyler offers us a third reason: “And as long as managers are setting clear expectations for employees, there shouldn’t be many issues with over-abuse of benefits. After all, benefits are only going to pay off for the company when employees use them.”

Obstacles on the Path

Even if you decide that your employees are worth the investment, there are hurdles to clear on the road to successfully implementing your benefits and perks. The biggest is friction between the previous company culture and the new policies, as pointed out by Jody Ordioni, founder of Brandemix:

The one negative I’ve become aware of is when managers aren’t on board with the benefits culture; i.e. if an organization encourages remote work but one’s manager requires all employees to be on-site, it creates a culture of resentment which could have an opposite effect from the desired results.

Matt Bentley, Founder of CanIRank echoes the sentiment: “If you are the type of Manager that…[is] more suited to micromanaging, then a flexible work environment may not be suited to you as you will naturally feel you need to double check what all of your staff are doing day-to-day.”

That’s not the only way managers and directors can undermine the positive aspects of employee benefits. Half-hearted commitment can be just as detrimental as outright opposition. In the words of Robin Schwartz, managing partner of MFG Jobs: “Before offering a new benefit or perk, it’s important to ensure that your organization has the means to make it permanent. The downside of introducing new perks is seeing them be taken away because they cost more than expected or just weren’t sustainable.”

In the end, if the benefits and perks are carefully planned and strategically implemented, the rewards will outweigh the costs.

The Most Effective Benefits and Perks

So what benefits and perks you should be offering? Which ones give you the highest return on investment? We think Patrick Colvin’s take sums it up best:

“The fact of the matter is, after health insurance, the most desirable perks and benefits are those that offer flexibility while improving work-life balance.”

Flexible Work Schedule/Telecommuting

By far the most ubiquitous, popular, and highly recommended benefit among business owners and management teams was a flexible work schedule (usually including telecommuting & work-from-home options). This is largely due to the much-discussed “work-life balance.” Michelle Hayward, CEO, and Founder of Bluedog Design thinks that flexible work schedules should see even more use:

The most under-appreciated and under-utilized perk in a modern workplace is flexibility. With accountability to the team in mind, employees are empowered to make decisions to attend a child’s school performance or to work from home when life happens or plan flex hours to make a commute less stressful.

Robin Schwartz agrees:

Flexible work schedules! Being able to occasionally work remotely as well as being able to shift hours that best fit an employee’s life and job goes a really long way in keeping employees happy and [maintaining] engagement. Knowing they are encouraged to balance their work and life is a great perk.

The most under-appreciated and under-utilized perk in a modern workplace is flexibility. Click To Tweet

Matt Bentley firmly believes in the value of “no office and no fixed schedule. If people want to go snowboarding on a Monday morning, they can. Encouraging a healthy work-life balance is still the most appreciated perk.” So does Amanda J. Ponzar, Chief Marketing Officer at Community Health Charities: “For employees to bring their best selves to work and perform, they need flexibility to enjoy outside interests and family, truly integrating work and life.” Dana Case, Director of Operations at MyCorporation.comdoes as well:

I find that one of the most desirable employee perks is being able to provide flexible scheduling options to all of your team members…By accommodating the scheduling needs of your team members and their personal lives, you’ll see how much they feel appreciated and are motivated to work hard for the business.

Mary Pharris sees it as a must for working women, one with fewer and fewer excuses not to implement:

From our research, we know that women’s job satisfaction is directly related to job flexibility. More and more employees are wanting flexible work environments. In large part, I think this is because life isn’t confined to the hours before or after work. Employees want the option to take care both of personal and professional responsibilities on their own terms, and with so much technology to make working remotely easy, it’s increasingly easier for employees to satisfy this.

Far from stifling or inhibiting productivity, this benefit seems to enhance it, according to our responders. Lee Fisher puts it this way:

We’ve come to realize that flexible-working is one of the biggest benefits for our staff. When we give our team the option to adapt their hours and work locations, they appreciate our flexibility and in turn produce even better results. It’s a simple perk, but a seriously important one.

It also enables your team to be productive no matter where they are in the world, and no matter how scattered each member may be. Michael Hollauf, CEO and Co-Founder of Meister Task is a staunch proponent of digital collaboration, stating:

We’ve also enabled flexible working, encouraging employees to work from wherever they work best. To allow this, we encourage all team members to be available on Slack during working hours and track their tasks in our task management tool, so that all team members can stay in the loop with project progress, even when working across different locations.

So if your work doesn’t physically require the team’s presence in order to be completed, strongly consider offering them the flexibility to do the work on their own terms.

Generous/Unlimited Vacation

A close second to flexible work schedules is loosening the reins on PTO. Many employers keep a tight grip on both vacation days and personal leave (in some cases verbally or culturally discouraging the use of even those days that are permissible by company policy). According to the experts who responded, this is a serious mistake. Not only does this create a serious liability in the form of unused PTO, it tends to result in team members experiencing burnout and, frequently, leaving the company for more favorable employment.

When asked what one benefit he would most recommend, Steve Pritchard answered:

A generous amount of time off. Giving employees plenty of opportunities to pursue their personal passions and unwind from work can go a long way towards improving their performance when they are at work. This ensures they don’t become frustrated with the lack of ability to take more than one vacation a year or take a few long weekends.

He wasn’t the only one. Mollie Delp concurred, saying:

Unlimited Vacation – to give the team the flexibility and reassurance that they can feel comfortable taking time off without penalty goes a long way. They don’t have to stress over a random Friday or afternoon where they need to be somewhere else (for themselves or family) and how it will overall effect their time off at the end of the year. One of our core values is to be empowered to be awesome in work and life, and we want to be sure our team knows we stand behind this, and that they have the flexibility to take care of their life and those around them when needed.

So did Patrick Colvin:

If I could recommend a single perk for employees, it would be flexible or unlimited vacation time. This perk shifts the focus from employees just putting in hours to placing an emphasis on production and great results. It allows employees to take ownership causing them to consider what’s best for both themselves as well as the organization. Most importantly it sends an important message to employees and prospective employees about the company culture and values.

The key, however, seems to be making sure your team knows that when you say “take some time for yourself,” that you really mean it. Lisa Oyler put it this way:

“Give employees plenty of time off to reboot and spend quality time with their families – but also set clear expectations that [they] don’t need to have their phones out or be ready to take a work call. Let them unplug!”


Another great way to increase engagement is through prizes, bonuses, awards and other incentives. Turning work into a competition or game can motivate your team to do their best. It even works internationally, according to Christian Rennella, VP of HR & CoFounder of elMejorTrato.com:

“After 9 years of hard work and having gone from 0 to 134 employees, I can assure you that the best strategy is ‘gamification’…Thanks to this gamification we were able to improve our retention by 31.1 percent.”

It doesn’t have to be elaborate, though. Even simple rewards for hard work can do the trick. Nate Masterson, HR manager for Maple Holistics told us:

Business managers who utilize incentives will often see that extra push once there are valuable items and experiences on the line. For instance, some companies offer a round of golf, 5-star brunch, or extended weekends if certain projects are completed ahead of schedule. This simple gesture is often enough encouragement for workers to get their act together and step up their game.

Health Insurance

Health insurance is usually the most expensive benefit (by a wide margin), but it’s also the most sought after. Paying for insurance out of pocket is expensive, and paying doctors’ bills without insurance is even worse, so it makes sense why applicants make career decisions based largely on insurance benefits.

This is most apparent amongst millennials, who frequently value insurance above all other benefits, according to Jody Ordioni:

“Studies show that health is the most important benefit to millennials, and therefore, offering a suite of benefits that relate to health (on-site health clinic, 100-percent paid health/dental/vision benefits) would be my top recommendations.”


Additional Ideas for Engaging and Retaining Your Team

We received a great deal of feedback in our survey regarding creative and innovative ideas that help sweeten the deal for prospective and current employees. Here are some of the ones we liked the best.

Free Food

“We hold ‘Pizza and Presentations’ twice a month, where we treat our employees to a catered lunch in one of our conference rooms. Not only does this allow our team to enjoy time together and receive updates about each department’s projects, it provides everyone a chance to celebrate milestones in the company. This is a great way to say thank you to your employees for their hard work.” — Emily Burton of Fueled

“We find that often it’s small things that matter. Like setting out bowls of healthy snacks throughout the office a couple days each week. It’s nice for the employees, good for health, but it also brings groups to the break rooms, where they can mingle and get to know people outside their own departments. The same concept applies to volunteer opportunities, and our highly competitive (yet still fun) 5k.” — Lisa Oyler

“The one we love the most is our ‘Monday Breakfast.’…we do it every two weeks and we order food from a local restaurant. It’s a great start of the week, we come to work and chat about how the weekend went, and start the day and week on a positive note.”  — Tatiana of Enhancv

“Because people loved being recognized and people love food, ordering catered lunches can be a great way to bring employees together at the office. This will not only help establish a more sociable and welcoming environment, it also provides a much-needed midday break.” — Nate Masterson

Unique Time Off

“I like summer Fridays, which we do a version of at Community Health Charities (and other employers have offered this). Some employers have you work longer hours during the week and get every other Friday off, or for us, we close early every Friday afternoon for employees to get a jump on the weekend during the summer. This is very popular!” — Amanda J. Ponzar

“Snow days! When winter weather causes hazardous travel conditions, we encourage employees to stay home and take a ‘snow day’. Essentially, they are not charged against their leave for opting to stay out of the office. Many workers have children who may also have a canceled school day when bad weather hits. Encouraging employees to stay home, if possible, not only reduces the stress of their day but shows them that we value their safety. In return, we often see the employees ‘online’ or still producing work remotely.” — Robin Schwartz

The Motley Crew

“Here is what have developed: Allotment of volunteer hours per employee to use each month to give back to the local community; Unlimited Vacation; Team Building Budgets (or “Fun Budgets”); Opportunity to attend a conference or organization that can further develop your skills.” — Mollie Delp

“One of the most creative employee perks we’ve provided is organizing weekly company-funded yoga lessons within our offices…[we’ve also] taken a number of steps to provide employees with both in-house training and external professional development events, such as sponsored conferences.” — Michael Hollauf

“We found that [student loan assistance] reduced the financial stress student loan debt carries for our employees and had a direct result on our retention.” — Patrick Colvin

“We look for those things that require engagement. Like a stocked library and monthly book club, where 97th Floor purchases the books for participants. It’s provided the most value in terms of keeping engaged people further engaged and generating new ideas and insights that directly impact our culture, our work, the way in which we work and the lens through which we measure our successes, and failures.” — Wayne Sleight

“Typical benefits we offer include a great holiday package, regular bonuses, and dress-down Fridays. The more unusual perks are surprise retail vouchers after a great performance, and activity days like waterspouts, go-karting and treetop obstacle courses. We also host regular fuddles, where we extend lunch hours so our team can enjoy lots of food and socializing.” — Lee Fisher

“Two of the most creative I’ve heard about are maternity concierge service where this particular company helped with pre- and post-birth with everything from helping you choose the right car seat to facilitating meals. And the other, one company offers shipping costs of breast milk for moms, and more companies are incorporating this benefit for new moms who have to travel.” — Mary Pharris

“Today, even companies with conservative workplace cultures are trying to reduce the stress of ‘real-life’ by offering valet car parking, dry-cleaning, and in-house massages…Other benefit trends include student-debt repayment, benefits for significant others and even wedding expense reimbursement for couples.” — Jody Ordioni

“[‘Enhancv Talks’ are events] we organize internally. We have a Facebook group where we vote on topics and the people who can talk about that topic so that everyone can learn about it. [The talks allow] employees to learn and teach each other about topics they’re excited about. It helps improve relationships, public speaking skills [for] the ones that present, and it shows support for co-workers, promotes learning and encourages everyone to become better generally. Also, it doesn’t cost anything.”  — Tatiana of Enhancv

How to Decide What Employee Benefits and Perks to Offer


Hopefully, in addition to providing a compelling argument, we’ve sparked some new ideas on where to begin with offering benefits and perks to your team. As for deciding exactly what to implement, that may be a little harder. Just remember, it all depends on what kind of talent you’re trying to attract. As Jody Ordioni puts it: “When considering which benefits to offer, companies need to consider their talent needs and tailor benefits to the wants and needs of the people they need most.”

But, you may be thinking, doesn’t everyone like more time off? Remember that, as Amanda J. Ponzar put it, “Different generations are looking for different things in the workplace. I love to focus and get work done, but one of my Millennial colleagues thought the [peace and] quiet was more ‘like a graveyard’ and wanted to be more social and engage with his colleagues to get energized about his work. We have employees from early 20s to mid-60s and not everyone wants the same perk so it’s important to ask employees.”

Michelle Hayward agrees: “The reality is that not all perks are created equal in the eyes of all employees. A certain subset of the employee population values high-quality health coverage. What motivates other can be money, time or notes of appreciations. As a leader, the challenge is navigating how dynamic the shifting sands can be.”

Remember what’s most important: making your employees feel like they are irreplaceable and not interchangeable. As Nate Masterson puts it: “No matter what you choose, it’s important to make employees feel like people that have something to offer, not just numbers or placeholders.”

Learn how our BambooHR Partnership can help your group please contact us at info@360PEO.com or (855)667-4621.

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Updating Your Employee Handbook  for Benefit Provisions

Updating Your Employee Handbook for Benefit Provisions

Employee Handbook Update

Updating Your Employee Handbook  for Benefit Provisions

Alex Miller | Millennium Medical Solutions | (855) 667-4621 | alexm@medicalsolutionscorp.com. 

Have you updated  your Employee Handbook  for Benefit Provisions? Handbooks are important for many reasons such as informing employees of their rights and duties, communicating available resources, and outlining paid time off policies. With respect to health and welfare benefits, here are a few things to consider:

1. Does your handbook go too far?

Handbooks cannot change the terms of governing benefit documents such as summary plan descriptions (“SPDs”). Handbook provisions should mirror plan terms and/or refer

to plan documents. Any provisions purporting to amend plan documents are ineffective. However, handbooks may ­ll in the blanks where the plan documents are silent or refer to outside policies. For example, an SPD may indicate that certain eligibility criteria is determined by the employer. In this case, that criteria may be explained elsewhere such as a handbook or benefit booklet.

2. Are all handbook provisions current?

A handbook should reflect current, compliant provisions such as those addressing benefits, eligibility, and termination.

          • Does your handbook exclude certain employee groups from benefits (e.g., temporary employees or interns)? If so, be aware of potential exposureunder the Employer Penalty which defines a “full-time employee” as any employee who works at least 30 hours per week. There are no exclusions of categories of employees. However, if using the look back measurement method, part-time employees,seasonal employees, and variable hour employees can be asked to wait up to 13+ months to determine full-time employee status without penalty.
          •  Does the handbook contain an outdated waiting period (e.g., indicating that plan entry is the ­first day of the month following 90 days of continuous service?
          • Does the handbook contain conflicting eligibility terms? For example, does the handbook indicate that an employee must work at least 40 hours per week to be eligible for benefits when an employee must only work at least 30 hours per week?
          • If the look back measurement method rules are being used, are those referenced or outlined?
          • Does the handbook indicate that same-sex spouses are excluded from benefit eligibility? Excluding same-sex spouses is not advisable due to recent court cases and EEOC  discrimination inquiries and likely conflicts with plan terms. It may also conflict with the company anti-discrimination workplace policy.
          • 3. Does the handbook demonstrate that an offer of coverage was made?

            Under the Employer Penalty rules, an employee must be offered an effective opportunity to accept coverage at least once with respect to the plan year. Final regulations do not apply any specific rules for demonstrating that an offer of coverage was made.

            Many employers require an affirmative waiver of medical benefits. This is the best method to prove an offer was made, provided that a waiver can be collected from every single employee waiving. Otherwise, any waiver not returned by the employee arguably proves that he was never made the offer.

            When an affirmative waiver is not required, otherwise documenting information regarding the election process is key. An employer will want to show that employees received sufficient information about the offer so that they must have known medical coverage was available.A widely-distributed handbook with clear information about the offer and its terms can be a valuable part of an employer’s distribution of information as well as benefit booklets, email correspondence, posters, mandatory meetings, etc., as applicable.

            If you need assistance with creating or modifying your handbook, please contact us and we can help you with a solution.

            NOTE: This document is designed to highlight various employee benefit matters of general interest to our readers. It is not intended to interpret laws or regulations, or to address specific client situations. You should not act or rely on any information contained herein without seeking the advice of an attorney or tax professional.