Rule Permits Associations Based on Industry or Geography
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a new rule that allows employers to join together as a single group to offer group health insurance coverage to employees, working owners (including those without other employees), and their spouses and dependents as part of an “association health plan.” The rule allows association health plans to be formed on the basis of industry or geography, such as by state, city, county, or multi-state metropolitan area.
The new rule subjects association health plans to the nondiscrimination rules currently applicable to large group coverage under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as amended by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These rules prohibit discrimination based on a health factor or within groups of similarly situated individuals, but do generally permit plans to impose different eligibility provisions and costs based on bona-fide employment-based classifications, such as full-time versus part-time status.
Click here for more information from the DOL.
For more on the nondiscrimination rules applicable to group health plans, check out our Health Insurance Nondiscrimination Rules page.
Affected Employers Must File IRS Form 720
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, 2018, and are required to be paid via IRS Form 720, Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return.
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.
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Please join Hollister Insurance and guest speaker Josh Potvin, the senior disability sales manager from leading disability provider Principal Financial. This seminar (lunch provided) will hosted by Hollister Insurance at 12 noon, Friday, May 4th at the Lord Jeffery Inn, 30 Boltwood Ave., Amherst. Hear an industry expert describe the latest updates in the individual disability marketplace, as well as the pros and cons when considering group disability plans. Your income is one of your most valuable assets. Learn the best ways to protect it while enjoying scenery at the landmark “Lord Jeffery Inn” in downtown Amherst Massachusetts.
Lord Jeffry Inn, Amherst
Please reserve your seat by Tuesday, May 1st at noon by emailing Michelle Simpson at[email protected]
This is a reminder that the webinar “2018 Q1 EMAC Supplement Determinations Have Landed — Are You Ready?” will begin in 1 Day on:
Fri, Apr 20, 2018 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT
There is still time to join so if you have not done so already, click the following link to register:
Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, including but not limited to, lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child, including the right to reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy. The Company does not discriminate against or treat pregnant workers or applicants less favorably than other employees. We are prepared to support employees who are pregnant or new mothers with at least the minimum benefits mandated by law. This policy is complementary to the existing legal guidelines.
The Pregnancy Fairness Policy applies to all female employees of the Company, whom are pregnant or have a pregnancy-related condition.
- Company agrees to provide temporary, reasonable accommodations for employees who are pregnant or have a pregnancy-related condition, for as long as the pregnancy or pregnancy-related condition applies. Reasonable accommodations allow for the employee to perform the essential functions of the job while pregnant or experiencing a pregnancy-related condition, such as the need to express breast milk for a nursing child, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship on the Company.
Notice and Accommodations
For an employee to receive temporary reasonable accommodations, the employee must notify the Company of her pregnancy, and request for specific accommodations.
- More frequent or longer paid or unpaid breaks
- Time off to attend to a pregnancy complication or to recover from childbirth with or without pay
- Acquisition or modification of equipment
- Temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position
- Job restructuring
- Light duty
- Private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk
- Assistance with manual labor
- Modified work schedules
The Pregnancy Fairness Act allows the Company to request documentation to support the need for accommodations, except for:
- More frequent restroom, food or water breaks
- Limitation on lifting objects over 20 pounds
- Private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk
The Company can only deny a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s pregnancy or condition related to the employee’s pregnancy, including but not limited to lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child, if the Company can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the Company’s program, enterprise or business.
Undue Hardship: Under the law, the employer has the burden of proving undue hardship, which is defined as an action requiring significant difficulty or expense. In determining undue hardship, employers must consider the following factors:
- The nature and cost of the needed accommodation
- Overall financial resources of the employer
- The overall size of the business of the employer with respect to the number of employees and the number, type and location of its facilities
- The effect on expenses and resources or any other impact on the employer’s program, enterprise or business
Responsibilities of the Company
The Company agrees to:
- Distribute a written notice to employees explaining their right to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy or a condition related to the employee’s pregnancy, including lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child, including the right to reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy pursuant to the new law.
- Provide written notice in a handbook or other means of notice to all employees including:
- New employees at or prior to their hire date
- An employee who notifies their employee of their pregnancy or condition related to the employee’s pregnancy, not more than 10 days after such notification
The Company will not:
- Take adverse action against an employee who requests or uses a reasonable accommodation in terms or conditions of employment including, but not limited to, failing to reinstate the employee to the original employment status or to an equivalent position, pay, seniority and other applicable credits when the need for reasonable accommodation ceases.
- Deny an employment opportunity to an employee if the denial is based on the need to make a reasonable accommodation to the known conditions related to the employee’s pregnancy, including but not limited to lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child.
- Require an employee affected by pregnancy or a condition related to pregnancy, including, but not limited to, lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child, to accept an accommodation that the employee chooses not to accept, if the accommodation is unnecessary to enable the employee to perform the essential job functions.
- Require an employee to take a leave if reasonable accommodations can be provided for the known conditions related to the employee’s pregnancy, including but not limited to, lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child, without undue hardship on the Company.
- Refuse to hire a person who is pregnant because of the pregnancy or condition related to the person’s pregnancy, including but not limited to, lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child, so long as the person is capable of performing the job functions of the position with reasonable accommodation, which would not impose an undue hardship on the Company.
Please join Hollister Insurance on Friday, April 20, 2018, at 2 PM for a timely, one hour live webcast examining the new Mass EMAC Supplement, the latest DUA guidance and 2018 Q1 DUA determinations that have been released. Our featured Speaker will be Rick Szczebak, Esq. of RAS Law, P.C.
Beginning with the quarter ended March 31, 2018, the DUA has begun making EMAC Supplement determinations for the very first time. Are you ready? Has your assessment surprised you? Please join us for this important informational webinar.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
For those employers that are being assessed under the new Employer Medical Assistance Contribution (EMAC) Supplement, the payment statement will now include a line item for EMAC Supplement balance. This Supplement only applies if the non-disabled employee was enrolled in Mass Health (not including the premium assistance program) or subsidized coverage through the Massachusetts ConnectorCare program for more than eight weeks during the quarter. Employers may begin submitting their wage filings for the first quarter in 2018 as of April 1, 2018. The due date of unemployment contributions is April 30, 2018.
The submission and payment process has not changed, but will just include the new line item. The EMAC supplement contribution is 5% of annual wages for each affected employee, up to the annual wage cap of $15,000 which results in a maximum of $750 per employee per year. The contribution will not apply to any employees who earn less than $500 in wages in that quarter.
Role of Third-Party-Administrators:
Third-Party Administrators (TPAs) who are currently assigned the payment role will be able to view the employer’s total liability, including the EMAC Supplement. TPAs will also be able to see which employees triggered the Supplement, but only if they are assigned one of the new TPA roles. Effective immediately, employers will be able to assign one of the following roles:
- EMAC Supplement View Only (view employee level detail, but can’t appeal)
- EMAC Supplement Appeal Submission (view and appeal employee level detail)
To assign your TPA to one of these new roles, you must access your employer account and then go to:
- Employer Home
- Account Maintenance
- Third Party Administration Authorization
- Search for the TPA
- Select the TPA from the list
- Third Party Administrator Details, click modify
For more information please visit: https://www.mass.gov/
service-details/new-tpa-roles- for-employer-medical- assistance-contributions- supplement-action-may
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released Publication 15 (Circular E), Employer’s Tax Guide, for use in 2018. This publication:
- Details employers’ federal tax responsibilities;
- Explains the federal requirements for withholding, depositing, reporting, paying, and correcting employment taxes;
- Lists the forms employers must give to their employees, those that employees must give to the employer, and those that the employer must send to the IRS and Social Security Administration; and
- Features the tax tables to calculate the taxes to withhold from each employee.
Highlights of the 2018 publication include the following:
- Social Security and Medicare Tax for 2018. The Social Security tax rate is 6.2% each for the employee and employer. The Social Security wage base limit is $128,400. The Medicare tax rate is 1.45% each for the employee and employer. There is no wage base limit for the Medicare tax.
- 2018 Withholding Tables. The publication includes the 2018 Percentage Method Tables and Wage Bracket Tables for Income Tax Withholding.
- Withholding Allowance. The 2018 amount for one withholding allowance on an annual basis is $4,150.
Click here to access the 2018 IRS Publication 15.
For additional tax information, please visit our section on Employer Tax Laws.
New Law Provides Reasonable Accommodation and Notice Requirements
Massachusetts has enacted the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which takes effect April 1, 2018. Highlights of the law are presented below.
The law is applicable to employers with 6 or more employees and generally prohibits employment discrimination based on pregnancy or a condition related to said pregnancy (e.g., lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child).
It is an unlawful practice for a covered employer to deny a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s pregnancy or any condition related to pregnancy, if the employee so requests. However, there is an exception if the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would cause it undue hardship. It is also an unlawful practice to (among other things):
- Take adverse action against an employee who requests or uses a reasonable accommodation in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment;
- Deny an employment opportunity to an employee, if such denial is based on the employer’s need to make a reasonable accommodation to the known conditions related to the employee’s pregnancy; or
- Require an employee affected by pregnancy (or a condition related to pregnancy) to accept an accommodation that the employee chooses not to accept—if such accommodation is unnecessary to enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the job.
Upon request for an accommodation from the employee or prospective employee capable of performing the essential functions of the position involved, the employee or prospective employee and the employer must engage in a timely, good faith, and interactive process to determine an effective, reasonable accommodation to enable the employee or prospective employee to perform the essential functions of the job.
Click here (§ 1E(c)) for information regarding certification, including certain accommodations for which the employer may not require certification.
Written notice of the right to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy or a condition related to the employee’s pregnancy (including the right to reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy) must be distributed to employees. The notice must be provided in a handbook, pamphlet, or other means of notice to all employees including, but not limited to:
- New employees at or prior to the commencement of employment; and
- An employee who notifies the employer of a pregnancy or of a condition related to the employee’s pregnancy, within 10 days of such notification.
An employer must provide written notice in a handbook, pamphlet, or by other means to its employees of the right to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy or a condition related to pregnancy, including the right to reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy, under the law (§ 1E) on or before April 1, 2018.
Click here to read the text of the law. Please let us know if you have any questions.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released IRS Notice 1036, Early Release Copies of the 2018 Percentage Method Tables for Income Tax Withholding. The notice updates the income tax withholding tables for 2018, reflecting changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Employers should begin using the 2018 withholding tables as soon as possible, but not later than February 15, 2018. The new withholding tables are designed to work with the Forms W-4 that workers have already filed with their employers.
Click here to read IRS Notice 1036.
For additional tax information, please visit our section on Employer Tax Laws.