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We’ve compiled a list of the 100 most commonly asked questions we have received on the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime regulations.
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This report, "Top 100 FLSA Q&As", is designed to provide you with an examination of the federal FLSA overtime regulations in Q&A format, including valuable tips for bringing your workplace into compliance in an affordable manner.

At the end of the report, you will find a list of state resources on wage and hour issues. This report includes practical advice on topics such as:
  • FLSA Coverage: How FLSA regulations apply to all employers and any specific exemptions from the overtime requirements
  • Salary Level: Qualifying for exemptions and nonexempt employees
  • Deductions from Pay: Deducting for violations, disciplinary reasons, sick leave, or personal leave

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March 07, 2017
Future of Benefits Holds Challenges, Opportunities

In January 2017, Wells Fargo Insurance Services (WFIS) made their employee benefits predictions for the year in their 2017 Employee Benefits Outlook. Like the prognostications of many others, the survey report reveals a sense of uncertainty about the future. Combined with trends in health and technology, a new Administration in the White House makes the future hard to predict. However, several trends are continuing from those covered in WFIS’ 2016 Outlook.

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The cost of health care benefits continues to worry employers, according to WFIS. In fact, managing them placed first on the list of employer goals, both short- and long-term, according to their Employee Benefits Strategies, Actions and Behaviors Study, 2016, cited in the survey. Second on the list was maintaining the current level of benefits offered.

It’s no wonder that these are top employer concerns. Since 1999, health insurance premiums have increased 213%, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report. Of course, this represents a significant drain on employers. Workers, too, are feeling the pinch; their contributions to health insurance premiums have increased 242% during the same period. In the background, workers’ earnings have not kept pace, increasing 60% while overall inflation has risen 44%.

Contributing Factors to “Unsustainable” Cost Increases

Several factors contribute to these increases that the Outlook calls “unsustainable.” Volume-, rather than value-, focused health care is cited chief among them. “The current reimbursement system offers an incentive for most providers to perform more tests and procedures, rather than provide efficient, high-quality care,” the report says.

However, more systems—public and private—are beginning to move away from fee-for-service and embrace fee-for-value strategies. WFIS’ research found that 23% of employers plan to move toward value and away from provider reimbursement based on volume in the next 5 years.

Other contributors to rising health care costs include utilization increases, the aging population, increased development and usage of biologics, and behavior and lifestyle choices, among others.

Surprises from the Millennials

Behavior and lifestyle play significant roles in health insurance pricing. Consider the CDC’s conclusion that almost half of the U.S. population suffer from one or more chronic health conditions, like asthma, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or obesity. These health conditions tend to be more prominent in more mature populations, but they are present in younger people, too.

WFIS’ Dan Gowan, National Practice Leader, Benefits Strategy and Market Relations, expresses concern about that. Millennials must be encouraged to join their health plans and take part in wellness activities, he says. “It’s important because obesity is a growing problem in the U.S., and Millennials are especially plagued by it.”

“Millennials are the first generation projected to have a lifespan that is flat or lower than previous generations,” Gowen continued. “They also experience high levels of stress and anxiety.  Getting them enrolled and engaged in the medical plan as well as any other offerings that complement the core medical will help drive behaviors and decisions that hopefully will keep them as healthy and productive as possible.”

While projections indicate that the Millennials will reach workforce majority status in 2020, the WFIS report calls out a disparity between the need to keep them on the job and taking the steps necessary to do that. According to the report, 75% of employers are concerned about employment retention rates for Millennials, while only 28% plan to make changes to benefit plans to be more attractive to the Millennial population.

High-Touch and Hi-Tech

A mix of high-touch and technology-based techniques may appeal to this group in particular. The report found that both telehealth and in-person clinics will play a role in the delivery of care in 2017 and beyond. Telehealth includes virtual medical services through live video and digital-and-monitoring tools. Convenience care clinics, like those offered in grocery stores and pharmacies, will also remain attractive to consumers in 2017, says the report—particularly as access to primary care becomes more difficult.

In his first few weeks as President, Donald Trump began following through on several of the initiatives he promised during the 2016 campaign. At this writing, the Affordable Care Act remains intact, but the actions of the new President leave many wondering about its ultimate fate.

WFIS acknowledges the various predictions on the subject, adding that any real changes will likely take time to work their way through the system. “We strongly advise employers to continue complying with the statutory and regulatory requirements set forth by the ACA until such time it is altered,” they say in the Outlook. “…it is unclear just what will be repealed, what it might be replaced with, or when any changes may take effect. In addition to the Cadillac tax, we suspect that the individual and employer mandates, federal tax credits, and exchanges will come under scrutiny. Employers should closely monitor developments.”

The WFIS report calls this a time of unprecedented growth in technology companies. Many of these focus on health, health insurance, and health care delivery. “For employers,” says the report, “the task is finding which technology providers and products will best serve their strategic objectives, and assist employees in making informed decisions.”

Employers answering the survey plan to update their health benefits in keeping with these technological advances.  Other notable findings:

  • 38% say they will place greater emphasis on cost/pricing and quality transparency
  • 36% plan greater use of health data to evaluate benefit plan performance
  • 28% said they will focus on individual consumers and their engagement in health care decisions.

Keeping Up with Change

There is no doubt that this is a time of change, and it may be challenging to keep up. “In today’s environment, employers must work a little harder to improve the health of their population while minimizing increasing costs for their employees,” said Gowen. “Increasing the level of enrollment of the workforce into medical programs is also critical, especially for companies with a high percentage of Millennials, who will make up half of the workforce by 2020.”

Set clear goals for your benefits program, understand your population and their motivations, and focus on the structure and execution of your programs, recommends WFIS. For more information about the current (and evolving) environment, access the full report.

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