Quick Hits - August 30, 2023 - American Society of Employers - ASE Staff

Quick Hits - August 30, 2023

The EEO-1 Component 1 (demographic data collection) approved by OMB: The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) request to extend “Component 1” of the annual Employer Information (EEO-1) Report. Interestingly, the extension is for only one year rather than the normal three-year approval.  The EEO-1 Report is a mandatory annual federal reporting requirement that provides a snapshot of a company’s workforce by race, ethnicity, sex, and job category. The previous version of the EEO-1 expired on June 30, 2023.  It is expected that the one-year approval is because the race categories will be changed by OMB in another initiative.  When the collection will begin is unknown. It could be either 4th Quarter 2023 or double reporting in 2024.  

Did you see increased absences on August 24th? According to a study from Flamingo, a platform that helps companies track absences, August 24 is when U.S. workers most often call out. This finding is based on data over the past five years from about 300 businesses with more than 10,000 employees.  An average of 0.9% were out sick on that date — a higher percentage than February 13 (aligned with the Super Bowl), which came in at No. 2.  October 25, December 15, and April 18 round out the top 5 for most popular sick days. February overall has been the "sickest" month over the past five years, with 10% of workers taking sick leave on average. Following closely behind: April and December. Among ailments keeping people home, or away from their keyboards: Stomach issues (54%), COVID (25%), and stress and anxiety, including burnout (9%), have been the top three most common. Texting, Slack, and other messaging apps (54%) have been the most preferred way for workers to give notice, followed by calls (33%) and email (12%).  Source: Axios 8/23/23

Healthcare costs going up big time in 2024: The average U.S. employer’s health care costs are projected to increase by 8.5% to more than $15,000 per employee in 2024, according to a recent report from Aon.  That number is nearly double the 4.5% increase to health care budgets that employers experienced from 2022 to 2023, to $13,906 per employee in 2023.  Plan costs represent the employer's and employees’ combined premiums for medical and prescription drug costs but exclude employee out-of-pocket payments such as deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance. On average, employers subsidize about 81% of the plan cost, while employees pay the remainder.  In a tight labor market, will there be more cost shifting?  Source:  HRD 8/23/23

Retention is number one priority for HR: Employee retention is the number one priority for both operations (51%) and HR (66%) this year, according to a recent Gallagher report.  And employers are putting in extra effort to keep workers on board.  More than three in four (78%) employers enhanced existing employees' base salaries, and another 40% enhanced variable compensation. Nearly two in five (39%) employers also invested in expanded medical benefits, and 38% upgraded their wellbeing initiatives. As part of employers’ increased focus on healthcare benefits, more than half (53%) also increased cost sharing, found Gallagher’s survey of 4,030 organizations across the U.S., conducted between December 2022 and March 2023. This is likely because nearly four in five employers anticipate a moderate (68%) or significant (10%) rise in healthcare costs, according to the report.  Health plan premiums for employer-sponsored healthcare jumped to 5%–5.9%, up from 4%–4.9% last year.  Source: HR Director 8/3/23

Are your employees ready to restart student loan payments? Starting in October, employees across the U.S. will have to resume payments on their student loans and are looking to their employers for financial relief now more than ever.  Only 7% of U.S. employers offered student loan repayment assistance at the beginning of 2022, according to a survey from the Society for Human Resource Management. That number is expected to rise to nearly half in the next few years, according to a 2022 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, as companies are faced with employees' vocal demands.  Currently, there are three major ways employers are helping their workforce pay off their student loans, according to Thomas Campos, the CEO of Spinwheel. First is simply offering financial literacy tools to help employees strategize their payments. Second is through the SECURE Act 2.0, which allows employers to make matching contributions to employees' loans as if they were 401(k) contributions. The third is through student loan repayment assistance programs, which were incentivized during the pandemic by the now discontinued CARES Act, which made it possible for employers to contribute $5,250 a year to employees' loans, tax free. Source:  EBN 8/11/23

State of Michigan launches website to appeal denial of health insurance claims: Consumers have the right to appeal a denial of a health insurance claim to the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) after attempting resolution through the insurer’s appeal process. To assist, DFIS has launched a newly updated consumer website that offers more information and answers to frequently asked questions. The appeal process consists of:

  1. An internal appeal: If a claim is denied, consumers have the right to ask the insurance company to conduct a full and fair review of its decision, then;
  2. An external appeal with DIFS: External appeals may be requested after the consumer has gone through the internal appeal process or if the insurer failed to provide a final decision within the required timeline.  

Consumers have up to 127 days after they receive the health insurer’s final denial to file a request for external appeal with DIFS.  Consumers may request an expedited appeal when resolving their appeal if the normal appeal timeline could seriously jeopardize their life, health, or ability to regain maximum function.  Source: DFIS

What if a client’s preference for a worker violates Title VII? The EEOC has filed suit in federal court against a home care provider, alleging it unlawfully discriminated against employees when it changed their work assignments to accommodate client preferences. EEOC v. ACARE HHC d/b/a Four Seasons Licensed Home Health Care, 23-cv-5760 (E.D.N.Y. July 31, 2023).   The suit alleges the home care provider “routinely would accede to racial preferences of patients in making home health aide assignments, including by removing Black and Hispanic home health aides based on clients’ race and national origin-based requests. Those aides would be transferred to a new assignment or, if no other assignment were available, lose their employment completely.” The EEOC contends this conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the affected employees, and injunctive relief to remedy and prevent future discrimination based on employees’ race and national origin.  Source: Jackson Lewis 8/4/23

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