Sunday, June 07, 2020

In Brief: Beware of FMLA Rules in Wake of Disasters

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In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, an attorney from Franczek Radelet P.C. reminds employers that disasters can stir up compliance issues from the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In an article for the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), Jeff Nowak notes that the law does not require employers to give employees time off to deal with the aftermath of a natural disaster. However, the law does apply if the disaster causes an employee to suffer "a physical or mental illness or injury that meets the definition of a 'serious health condition' and renders them unable to perform their job," or if the employee is required to take care of a family member that's been affected by the disaster.

A new poll finds that small businesses remain confused about the health care reform law. A survey by eHealth finds that many small companies are unclear about their obligations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. For instance, nearly one third incorrectly believed they would be required to offer health benefits by 2014 (only employers with 50 or more employees are subject to that rule).  Also, few are making any long-term plans based on how that law might affect their business, the survey found.

While the growing popularity of working remotely has been in the headlines recently, new research suggests the trend may be fizzling. A WorldatWork / Dieringer Research Group report found that the number of people teleworking in 2010 was 26.2 million, down from 33.7 million in 2008. The report cited a number of reasons for the decline, including high unemployment and workers' anxiety about job security.

A new survey finds employers don't expect to make any major moves in how they do business anytime soon. The poll by the Midwest Business Group on Health, conducted prior to the election, found that most companies had no plans to make any major shifts because of the health care reform law. For instance, only 9 percent said they expected their company to participate in the state-run health care exchanges in 2014-16. Also, the poll found little indication that employers expect to stop offering health care coverage.

Americans' cholesterol levels have dipped since the 1980s, thanks to lipid-lowering drugs and better awareness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. The study found that average total cholesterol dropped from 206 milligrams per deciliter in 1988-1994 to 196 in the 2007-2010 time period, with a similar decrease in LDL (or "bad") cholesterol.

Although a majority of retirement plan sponsors offer a target-date fund (TDF) option in their defined contribution plans, only half of them are using the TDFs as the default fund, according to AllianceBerstein. Of the 50 percent of companies offering a TDF but not as a default, 83 percent have no default at all or are using a stable fund, an equity fund or bond as the default.

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