Right now, benefit administrators are in the thick of answering questions and making changes to employee benefits for the coming year. Here’s what’s happening on the outside.
Proposed Changes to FMLA
In November, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act (BBBA). BBBA, if enacted, would be a federal enhancement for the private sector workers since the Family Medical Leave Act began in 1993. BBBA expands on current unpaid protections to provide up to four weeks of paid caregiving leave. Even more, the BBBA allows the paid leave benefits to expand to a larger group of eligible workers, including additional family members beyond the individuals covered by the FMLA. The program, if enacted, would become effective in January 2024.
How Would the New FMLA Impact My Business?
BBBA includes nearly all U.S. workers, including the self-employed, through an amendment to the Social Security Act. BBBA’s paid leave benefits are not limited to large employers and don’t require a length of service commitment. Workers would need to meet a minimum of earned wages of $2,000 each quarter. The individual would need to meet this wage threshold four months before using the benefit. The individual would complete an application, good for 90 days for qualifying leave of a minimum of four hours weekly.
Who is Eligible for the Updated FMLA Benefits?
Workers could receive paid leave for the birth of a child and placement of a child for adoption or foster care. A serious health condition of the employee would constitute using the paid leave benefit or care for a qualified family member with a serious health condition. Although the BBBA passed through the U.S. House of Representatives still has a tough path through the Senate. Employers and benefits administrators should continue to monitor the Act’s progress and review applicable policies for potential revisions should the act make headway through the Senate.
The Great Resignation Continues
The hope of a ripe holiday season to boost employment numbers is turning out to be a Christmas wish. SHRM says to expect another lackluster jobs report. About 20 million workers between May and September left their jobs, a number that is 50 percent more than in the same period from the previous year.
Preparing for Employee Questions
There are no signs of resignation slowing, but businesses can prepare themselves for the challenging questions from employees. Forbes cited these top strategies for employees: flexible hours, wellness, remote/hybrid work and improved work environment. Currently, available data shows when employees are offered a choice, employees are evenly split between work-from-home, hybrid or in-office working arrangements. Employees mostly want a choice or a conversation about working arrangements.
Employees that Leave
Benefits administrators can often be a scapegoat as to why employees are leaving their organization, but a recent Gallup analysis says otherwise. In a recent study from Gallup, 52 percent of exiting employees say that their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving their job. More than half of these exiting employees say their decision had been brewing for at least three months. Empowering managers to bring awareness to employees’ concerns may be an important first step in retaining employees.
Women are a vital component in the rebuilding of the U.S. economy. Women experienced the majority of pandemic job losses. While adult women’s employment and labor force participation rates have increased, this working-age population continues to struggle to obtain significant gains. A study from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows 2 million fewer employed adult women compared to 1.5 million adult men. While other industries have recovered for women, employment in child daycare services hasn’t improved, but it has decreased. This is important to understand from a benefits perspective because women are more likely to scale back on paid work than men.
Struggling to Keep up with Changes to Benefits Law?
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*This news is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal or operational advice.