OSHA To Delay Enforcing Crystalline Silica Standard
OSHA recently announced a delay in enforcement of the crystalline silica standard that applies to the construction industry in order to conduct additional outreach and provide educational materials and guidance for employers. The agency has determined that additional guidance is necessary due to the unique nature of the requirements in the construction standard. Originally scheduled to begin June 23, 2017, enforcement will now begin September 23, 2017.
OSHA expects employers in the construction industry to continue to take steps either to come into compliance with the new permissible exposure limit, or to implement specific dust controls for certain operations as provided in the standard. Construction employers should also continue to prepare to implement the standard’s other requirements, including exposure assessment, medical surveillance and employee training.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
House Committees Release ACA Replacement Bills: The American Health Care Act
On March 6, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives issued two bills, referred to together as the American Health Care Act, to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If enacted, the American Health Care Act would not repeal the ACA in its entirety, but it would affect several key provisions impacting employers such as the employer mandate and the tax on high cost health coverage (i.e. the “Cadillac” tax). The American Health Care Act would also provide employers with greater flexibility in designing benefit plans by significantly enhancing Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and eliminating the restrictions on Health Flexible Spending Accounts (Health FSAs).
The key “employer” provisions of the American Health Care Act include:
Eliminating the Employer Mandate Penalties. Under the ACA, large employers (employers with 50 or more full-time employees including full-time equivalents) must offer affordable, minimum value health care coverage or pay a penalty under Section 4980H of the Internal Revenue Code. The American Health Care Act would reduce the penalties under Section 4980H to zero retroactively for months beginning after December 31, 2015, effectively eliminating the employer mandate under the ACA.
Delaying the “Cadillac” Tax. The ACA imposes a 40% excise tax, referred to as the “Cadillac” tax, on high cost employer-sponsored health coverage. The American Health Care Act would delay the effective date of the Cadillac tax for another five yea
Benefits Elections: What Can You Change, When & Why
Under Section 125 and HIPAA Special Enrollment rules, changes to elections for group health insurance are generally not permitted. However, there are specific instances when employees can make midyear election changes. In this session we will review the election changes that are permitted, and are not permitted, under the rules. We will cover topics such as:
Special enrollment periods
Changes in number of hours worked
Written plans that allow mid-year election changes
Benefits Elections Webinar: Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 1:30 to 2:30 pm
Webinar – Login information will be provided
RSVP to Joanna Baisch at (262) 563 5457 or email@example.com
Vizance Continues Its Growth With Addition of Insurance Agency Serving Fox Valley Area
Vizance continues its growth with the addition of Valley Insurance Associates. The combined organization gives Vizance a geographic market stretching from Southeastern Wisconsin up through Northeastern Wisconsin, encompassing the entire Fox Valley.
“We recently changed our name from RC Insurance Services to Vizance, to help position our agency for accelerated growth,” explained Jeff Cardenas, President of Vizance. “This partnership follows our intent to grow Vizance strategically, and we are excited by the capacity that Valley Insurance Associates adds to our outstanding team.”
“The cultures among Vizance and Valley Insurance Associates are a perfect fit, and that’s what attracted us to Valley,” Vizance Vice President Dimas Ocampo said. “We succeed by our culture. We want to create the very best workplace for our associates and be the very best partner for our clients’ financial security.”
Founded in 1990, Valley Insurance Associates offers business insurance, home and auto insurance, employee benefits and individual health insurance, including Medicare. Valley Insurance Associates will continue to operate under that name from its office locations in Appleton, Oshkosh, Green Bay and Kaukauna.
More information is available here.
HHS Extends Transitional Relief for Small Groups
On February 23, 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced that insurers in the small group market will be permitted to renew health insurance policies that would they otherwise have had to cancel due to noncompliance with the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”).
By way of background, the ACA includes market reforms that created new coverage standards for health insurance policies such as: premium rating rules, guaranteed availability and renewability, and the requirement to provide essential health benefits. Under the ACA the market reforms were to be effective for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2014. However, prior to the effective date President Obama implemented a transitional relief policy that, if permitted by the states, would allow insurers offering coverage in the individual and small group markets the option of renewing current policies for current enrollees without adopting all of the ACA market reforms. The transitional relief policy was extended several times, but was set to expire in 2017.
The HHS guidance again extends the transitional relief policy. Under the HSS guidance, states can permit insurers that have continually renewed health insurance coverage for small groups since 2014 under the transitional relief policy to again renew such coverage for a policy year beginning on or before October 1, 2018. However, any policy renewed under the transitional relief cannot extend beyond December 31, 2018. Also, state
2016 Food Drive
It was our best year yet for the annual food drive.
Vizance ended the annual Thanksgiving Food Drive last Friday. With a little friendly office competition, we graciously collected 26,058 food items, $9,197 in monetary donations and 755 requested women's shelter items. Thanks to all who participated and made this year's food drive such a success! We could not have reached the level of success we did without the teamwork, compassionate hearts and generous donations of our contributors.
Vizance Named to the Milwaukee Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” List for 2nd Time
The Milwaukee Business Journal recently released their "Best Places to Work" winners list, and Vizance is honored to be among the winners.
According to the Milwaukee Business Journal, "44 southeastern Wisconsin companies are being honored for having the best culture and leadership and where employees feel the most engaged by their jobs and management. Nearly 160 Milwaukee-area firms were nominated for the awards and the winners were determined based on scores from a survey that employees filled out. Each company that was nominated was ranked according to the 10 core areas of engagement: teamwork, retention, alignment with goals, trust with co-workers, individual contribution, manager effectiveness, trust in senior leaders, feeling valued, job satisfaction and benefits."
Additional information, including rankings, will be published later this year.
Beth Ward joins Vizance as Compliance Attorney
Beth Ward will be serving as the Compliance Attorney at Vizance. She brings over 20 years of experience in the area of Employee Benefits Compliance. Beth will focus on helping Vizance’s clients understand the complex compliance obligations that govern health insurance plans, including the Affordable Care Act.
Beth’s expertise in ACA, FMLA, ERISA, COBRA, HIPAA, Section 125, Section 105, Wellness and other aspects of Employee Benefits will help the team deliver best-in-class solutions. Beth has represented employers in audits with the DOL and the IRS, and she is skilled at helping employers comply with federal and state mandates affecting employee benefit plans. Beth is a Principal Attorney at The Simandl Law Group, S.C., which specializes in labor and employment law.
On August 25th, Beth will present “Maintaining a Healthy Wellness Program: Issues and Compliance Strategies for Employers” at 8:30 am at MRA in Waukesha. To register, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vizance Named One of the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Firms Again
The Milwaukee Business Journal recently released its annual list of the winners selected for the Fastest Growing Firms awards, and Vizance is honored to be among the 28 businesses selected for this award. The 2016 winners, who have each shown significant growth over the past three years, will be recognized at an awards luncheon on August 12th in Milwaukee, as well as in the Business Journal’s August 12th edition. Our dedicated associates and loyal clients makes this award possible, and we are very grateful for their on-going support.
New DOL Overtime Rules Effective December 1, 2016
On May 18, 2016, changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) increase the salary an employee must earn to qualify to be exempt. Employees that are currently not eligible for overtime but make less than $47,475 per year will be eligible for overtime pay beginning December 1, 2016.
Exempt employees are not eligible for overtime. In order for an employee to be exempt, they must meet all three of the following criteria:
Salary Basis Test: Employee is paid a predetermined and fixed salary that is not subject to reduction due to variations in the quality or quantity of work.
Salary Level Test: Employee’s salary must meet a minimum specified amount to qualify for the exemption. This salary threshold provides employers with an objective and efficient way to determine whether an employee qualifies for a white collar exemption.
Duties Test: Employee’s job duties must primarily involve executive, administrative, or professional duties, as defined by law.
The new FLSA regulations modify the Salary Level Test to mean no less than $47,475 per year. An employer may include ten percent of non-discretionary incentive bonuses tied to productivity and profitability. The bonus must be paid at least quarterly in order to be factored into the Salary Level Test.
Because an employee must meet all three criteria to be exempt, an employee that makes less than $47,475 per year as of December 1, 2016 will no longer be exempt.
What should employers do now? Employers shoul