2020 will forever be remembered as the year that defined a decade of progressive and innovative employer benefits strategies. This pandemic is one of the most significant global threats to financial stability that many will see in their lifetimes. In Mercer’s COVID Employer Response Survey, 85 percent of respondents estimated that the pandemic would have a moderate to high impact on overall financial performance for 2020. What 2021 holds is still not clear. The COVID pandemic greatly accelerated forces that were already pressuring employers to reinvent their health and benefits programs.
COVID has shifted the way businesses operate and engage with their customers and employees. When it comes to open enrollment, it has forced businesses to operate in a model that is unique and different from what they are used to. COVID has presented its own particular challenges to PEOs as they consider supporting their clients’ employees during open enrollment. With many employees still working remotely due to the pandemic, PEOs must plan ahead to make the open enrollment experience easy for them.
As vaccinations roll out across the country, we can finally see the end of this long pandemic journey. Even as the crisis slowly abates, however, employees are still dealing with the fallout—and the related stress. MetLife’s 18th Annual Employee Benefits Trends Study found that 81 percent of workers are experiencing financial problems and 77 percent are worried about job security, workload, and other workplace issues. Health concerns about the virus still abound.
Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) have been used since the 1980s as a supplemental benefit that employers can offer to employees. An FSA is a qualified employee benefit governed by Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), allowing plan participants to payroll-deduct salary on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified out-of-pocket medical and daycare expenses.
From the largest PEOs in the marketplace to small regional providers, the COVID pandemic has challenged each in new and unique ways. The current benefits landscape has been significantly impacted and is subsequently experiencing shifts in the market, demands for new products, and renewed interest in existing products. Some of these may revert to normal when or if the pandemic subsides, while other benefit offerings may become part of a new normal.
The PEO industry has been substantially impacted by COVID, particularly in the workers’ compensation and healthcare aspects of the industry. Even businesses that are historically looked at as low-risk, such as office clerical, technical, and professional roles, are seeing a higher level of difficulty with placement of affordable healthcare and workers’ compensation coverage. Legal and regulatory changes are increasing this impact; recent legislation has passed in some states, including California, and insurance carriers are being looked at as the responsible party from a workers’ compensation standpoint, whether injuries occur on or off the job.
One year ago, COVID was still relatively new in our country. Each day, new information was provided to help keep us safe. We stayed home, wore masks, and washed our hands to protect our own health, as well as the health of others. What began as something foreign and remote has now become familiar and normal. Last March, I did not know anyone who had been diagnosed with COVID; now I know many people who have been sick, been hospitalized, and even some who have passed away. It has been a difficult time that has impacted all of us in one way or another
Mark your calendars for May 19 and 20 for NAPEO’s 2021 PEO Capitol Summit: A Digital Experience. With a new president in the White House and a new Congress at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, you can expect laws, rules, and regulations that impact PEOs to change. This is your chance to connect with what’s happening on Capitol Hill, the latest issues impacting PEOs and your clients, and your friends and peers who are the industry’s top legal minds. Visit www.napeo.org/capsummit to register for this event and view the latest programming information.
Reinaldo Lopez, Sr. started Resource Management, Inc. (RMI) in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, in 1995. Besides recently celebrating 25 years in business, RMI was named the Best Minority-Owned Business in the Worcester Business Journal’s Best of Business 2021 awards for professional services, for the third time in three years. The U.S. Department of Commerce named RMI the Minority Professional Services Firm of the Year in 2018. RMI Chief Executive Officer Reinaldo Lopez and his children, President Rachel Lopez, Vice President Alex Lopez, and Director Naldi Lopez, recently spoke with PEO Insider® about their company.
Of the many challenges presented by the COVID pandemic, on the forefront of many employers’ minds, is how to deal with vaccines—whether to mandate them, encourage them, or incentivize workers to receive them, plus a variety of other issues. This article addresses various considerations for employers relevant to these concerns based upon the rapidly changing guidance.
2021 is beginning to settle down as we hopefully begin to move out of the pandemic and put the drama surrounding the 2020 election in our rear-view mirror. Now is a good time to return to one of the seminal court cases of 2020, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, and consider its implications for employee benefits going forward.
With the changing of the seasons, spring cleaning comes to mind and all the things to do around the home and the office. In March of 2020, many of us sent our employees home to work remotely. You may or may not have had policies and procedures in place for that to happen, but now is the time to start the cleanup process and review your organization’s cyber hygiene.
It is hard to read any news these days that does not speak about unemployment related to COVID. Unemployment insurance benefits are front and center in helping individuals who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The volume of cases coupled with the rise in fraudulent filings make it more important than ever for PEOs to ensure they have in place strong policies and procedures surrounding UI.
My high school football team had few truly talented players. There was one standout player, a running back, who seemed to have a key role in most of our team’s plays. We had three plays we relied on: running back goes left, running back goes right, and running back goes up the center. As you could imagine, defending against our offense was quite easy if the defense kept an eye on our running back. What my team needed was a broader and more diverse approach to scoring points, something that sales teams need to strive for as well.
PEOs who participated in the fourth quarter Pulse Survey saw more increases in revenue than decreases for the first time in 2020.
• 14 percent of PEOs experienced significant revenue growth during the fourth quarter, compared with 5 percent reporting a significant decline; and
• 81 percent experienced only a mild change, if any.
That’s what grandparents say when they see their grandkids after being away for a while. As parents, we don’t notice it because our kids grow one pound, one inch at a time, so imperceptibly each hour, each day, each week, and each month. It takes the perspective of one who’s been away to bring that growth into full relief.