navin No Comments

Massachusetts “Grand Bargain” Law (just capitalize Law)

At the end of June, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law the “grand bargain” bill.  This bill has a significant effect on the state’s minimum wage, which will ultimately rise to $15 an hour over 5 years.  The bill also includes a paid family and medical leave program, which will be implemented by 2021 and will ultimately change the way employers approach insured short term disability programs here in Massachusetts.

Minimum Wage

The law incrementally raises the current $11-an-hour minimum wage to $15 an hour from 2019 to 2023. Beginning in 2019, the state minimum wage will go up to $12 an hour and will continue in 75-cent increments each year from then on: $12.75 in 2020, $13.50 in 2021, $14.25 in 2022, and $15 in 2023. The minimum base wage rate for tipped workers will also increase over five years, starting in January 2019 to a maximum of $6.75.

Paid Family and Medical Leave

Beginning in 2021, Massachusett’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program will be implemented. This gives contributing employees up to 12 weeks a year to care for a family member or bond with a new child, 20 weeks a year to handle a personal medical problem, and up to 26 weeks to handle an emergency relating to a military family member’s deployment. Weekly benefits will be based on a percentage of employees’ average weekly wages, with $850 a week being the maximum payout.  The law allows self-employed workers to opt into the program. However, for the program to cover municipal workers, cities and towns must vote to participate.

As new information and ultimately the regulations for this new law are developed, we will continue to keep you informed.

navin No Comments

Additions to our staff: Chloe and John

We are very pleased to announce two new additions to our staff in Concord: Chloe DiPetrillo, who is working as a intern for the summer, and John Baumer, who comes on board as a Senior Account Executive.

Chloe is studying finance and marketing at Washington University in St. Louis, with a minor in global health.  Chloe’s enthusiasm and fresh perspective is a tremendous benefit to our staff!

John’s career has spanned over two decades with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care where he has been in sales, sales management and training for Harvard’s sales and support teams. John is an effective communicator with a passion for customer service. John’s extensive experience in health insurance is a valuable asset and we feel he will be a great addition to our team.

Chloe can be reached at extension 114 and by email at [email protected].  John can be reached at extension 115 and by email at [email protected].

navin No Comments

Form 5500 Filing Deadline for Many Health Plans is July 31 – Monthly Newsletter

Form 5500 Filing Deadline for Many Health Plans is July 31

Group health plan administrators are reminded that Form 5500 must be filed with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) by the last day of the seventh month after the plan year ends. For calendar-year plans, that due date falls on July 31.

Who Must File Form 5500?
In general, all group health plans covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act(ERISA) are required to file Form 5500. However, group health plans (whether fully insured, unfunded [meaning its benefits are paid as needed directly from the general assets of the plan sponsor], or a combination of the two) that covered fewer than 100 participants as of the beginning of the plan year are exempt from the Form 5500 filing requirement. For more on this requirement, click here.

How to File Form 5500
Forms 5500 must be filed electronically with the DOL using either the IFILE web-based filing system or an approved vendor’s software.

Visit our ERISA section for more ERISA compliance information.


Form I-9 Audits Up Dramatically Since October

From October 1, 2017-May 4, 2018, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted 2,282 Form I-9 audits, up from 1,360 audits from October 1, 2016-September 30, 2017. Given this dramatic increase, employers should take a moment to ensure that their Form I-9 compliance practices meet federal requirements. Businesses that fail to comply with these requirements are subject to penalties of up to $2,236 per violation.

4 Quick Form I-9 Compliance Tips

  1. All U.S. employers generally must fill out and keep a Form I-9 for every person they hire for employment in the United States, as long as the person works for pay or other benefits.
  2. Newly hired employees must complete and sign Section 1 of Form I-9 no later than the first day of employment.
  3. An employee must present to the employer an original document or documents that show his or her identity and employment authorization within 3 business days of the date employment begins.
  4. Employers must retain an employee’s completed Form I-9 for as long as the individual works for the employer. However, Form I-9 does not need to be filed with any federal agency.

For additional Form I-9 compliance information, check out our Form I-9section.


Don’t Forget to Pay PCORI Fees

Employers that sponsor certain self-insured health plans–including some health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and health flexible spending arrangements (health FSAs)–are reminded that they are responsible for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fees. Fees for self-insured plans with plan years that ended in 2017 are due July 31, and are required to be paid via IRS Form 720.

Employer-sponsored self-insured plans with plan years that ended between January 1, 2017 and September 30, 2017 must pay a fee of $2.26 multiplied by the average number of lives covered under the plan. Employer-sponsored self-insured plans with plan years that ended between October 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017 must pay a fee of $2.39 multiplied by the average number of lives covered under the plan. Details on how to determine the average number of lives covered under a plan are included in these regulations.

For additional information, visit our section on PCORI Fees for Self-Insured Plans.


Summer’s Here and So is Spear Phishing

Cyberattacks and resulting data breaches often begin with a spear-phishing email. Spear phishing differs from regular email phishing in its use of extensive research to target a specific audience, which allows the spear phisher to pose as a familiar and trusted entity in its email to a mark. Spear phishers seek a company’s valuable information–such as credentials providing access to customer lists, trade secrets, and confidential employee information–and some of their methods include:

  • Directing email recipients to fake (but authentic-looking) websites that ask for information like account numbers, passwords, or other credentials.
  • Inducing recipients to click on links or attachments that download malware onto the recipient’s computer. The malware often allows the phisher to steal passwords and sensitive data by, for example, tracking keystrokes.

The IRS offers the following tips to protect against spear phishing:

  1. Educate all employees about phishing in general and spear phishing in particular.
  2. Use strong, unique passwords with a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. Also remember to use different passwords for each account.
  3. Never take an email from a familiar source at face value, especially if it asks you to open a link or attachment, or includes a threat about a dire consequence that will result if you fail to take action.
  4. If an email contains a link, hover your cursor over the link to see the web address (URL) destination. If it’s not a URL you recognize, or if it’s an abbreviated URL, don’t open it.
  5. Poor grammar and odd wording are warning signs of a spear-phishing email.
  6. Consider calling the sender to confirm the authenticity of an email you’re unsure of, but don’t use the phone number in the email.
  7. Use security software that updates automatically to help defend against malware, viruses, and known phishing sites.

Click here for additional information about protecting yourself from spear-phishing attacks.

Check out our Employee Records and Files section for more on how to protect confidential employee information.


HR Action Steps for Employee Name Changes

With the summer wedding season underway, many employees may soon be changing their names. As a result, in the coming months, it is critical for employers to ensure that each employee’s name is accurately reflected on required forms and internal records. Watch the video below to learn how to stay compliant.

Employee Name Changes - subscription

For additional HR guidance, visit our Human Resources section.