6 Months on Capitol Hill
Due to new legislative activity, HR departments may have to audit employees and their families to ensure proper healthcare coverage under the terms of both healthcare reform and individual policies. Starting in 2011, under federal law young adults can be covered under their parent’s health insurance plan until the age of 26. This new age limit creates responsibilities for HR to ensure coverage is appropriate given the ages of employees’ children. In addition, Benefits professionals will also have to investigate the financial impact of health plan selections on both employees and employers, as this new law could increase costs for both parties due to the additional participants.
The CLASS Act Plan is another law HR professionals will need to become familiar with. Although the US Senate’s “gang of six ” has moved to repeal the Act under their plan for addressing the nation’s debt ceiling issues, to be safe, HR professionals should know the basics. The CLASS Act gives employees the opportunity to prepare for their future long-term care needs. Employers who chose to implement CLASS will have additional responsibilities:
- Employees would be included via auto enroll and participate in payroll deductions.
- The organization should include an opt-out component for those who wish not to participate.
- Employers would submit payroll deductions to the Federal government.
- Documenting enrollees, disenrollees, and re-enrollees, and
- Documenting employee premiums, premium penalties, and service credits.
Another hot topic is the Legal Workforce Act of 2011. The proposed legislation is relatively new, as Rep. Lamar Smith introduced the act in June 2011. The Act is gaining attention everywhere, as its key provision is that all employers in the United States would have to make use of the federal government’s E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system in order to ensure that all newly hired employees are legally eligible to work in the country.
SHRM has given an official statement on the act: “HR professionals are on the frontlines of employment verification and arefully committed to only hiring work-authorized individuals. We also recognize, however, that the current employment verification system is in need of real reform. The patchworks of state and local verification laws are unworkable and creating a confusing set of legal requirements for American employers and employees. We, therefore, applaud you, Mr. Chairman, for including federal preemption provisions in your legislation to address the disparate network of state laws and provide for a uniform national system.”
Details of the law’s provisions include the following:
- Compliance for larger employers would happen within 6 months of enactment, while smaller employers would have 2 years. Recruiters and Union halls would have 1 year to be in compliance following the passage of the Act. Seasonal workers for agriculture or services have within 3 years to be compliant with the law.
- Re-verification, although not required, will be mandatory for:
- All federal, state, and local government employees,
- All employees with a limited work authorization time period,
- Specific federal and state contract employees, and
- Specific critical infrastructure sites.
- Individuals face felony crime and prison time for being aware of the misuse of a social security number or any other form of identification.