Employee Benefits Law



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Employee Benefits refers to compensation provided in whole or in part to workers, by their employers, to supplement their wages or salaries, but are not required by law. Some of these benefits include the following: life insurance; health insurance; short-term and long-term disability insurance; sick leave; paid vacation; pensions; tuition reimbursement; relocation expenses; housing; profit sharing; child care benefits; and other miscellaneous perks. Different benefits are treated differently for federal tax purposes. Some are included in an employee’s gross wages, while others are excluded. Some are even utilized as tax shelters.

Some employee benefits are offered only in part by the employer with the condition that the employee contribute to part of the cost as well, but the employee is not required to participate and may opt out instead. This is common with various medical health care coverage, retirement plans, disability programs, life insurance and retirement programs, such as 401K plans.

Providing employee benefits is not legally required by employers. However, the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) sets minimum standards for most private industry pension and health plans which employers provide voluntarily.

Additionally, once health care insurance benefits have been offered and utilized and an employee has been terminated, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) generally makes it mandatory for insurance companies who sponsored employers with 20 or more employees, to continue to provide coverage for the terminated employee for a limited time period, provided he/she can pay the full premium on his/her own (and for eligible individuals fired prior to May 31, 2010, they may continue at a reduced premium rate.)

Furthermore, although an employer is not required to provide paid time off (PTO), when one does and the employee separates from the company, there are often rules and regulations, which vary by state, governing the payment of any remaining PTO the employee still has. Attorneys experienced in the employee benefits area of law can assist employees in determining their rights to already established benefits, especially when they are in danger of or have been terminated.

To consult Employment and Labor laws and regulations in your State visit our Department of Labor by State page.


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Articles on HG.org Related to Employee Benefits Law

  • Wisconsin Changes Unemployment Insurance Law To The Detriment of Employees
    As of January 5, 2014, Wisconsin’s unemployment insurance laws changed dramatically. The new law codifies and expands the definition of misconduct and creates a lesser standard which employers may use to prevent a n employee from collecting benefits. This article will briefly outline the changes to Wisconsin’s unemployment insurance law related to discharged employees.
  • Why American Women Should Be Interested in the FAMILY Act
    In 2004, a Harvard University study found that of 168 countries surveyed, 163 had some form of government mandated maternity leave pay. The United States was not one of them. As a result, millions of American women suffer crippling economic hardships when they must take time off to give birth, and then are forced to return to work prematurely or go without income. Enter the FAMILY Act.
  • Are Same-Sex Couples Entitled to Share Employment Benefits?
    Traditionally, one benefit of marriage was being able to share in a spouse's employment benefits, like health, vision, and dental insurance. Unfortunately, many same-sex couples have struggled for years to receive the same level of benefits and even the right to be married. With more and more jurisdictions recognizing same-sex marriages, are employers now required to provide same-sex couples with the same level of benefits as heterosexual couples?
  • Occupational Disease and Missouri Workers’ Comp: Who’s Entitled?
    An occupational disease is one that has been contracted as a direct result of a persons employment.
  • Long Term Disability ("LTD") Appeals and Lawsuits -- Frequently Asked Questions
    If your claim for Long Term Disability ("LTD") benefits has been denied or terminated, this article may answer some of your questions and concerns.
  • Missouri Commission Rejects First Aggressor Defense
    The Missouri workers’ compensation commission has made an unexpected decision by allowing a man to receive workers’ comp benefits. The man and his supervisor had gotten into a physical fight. The case was heard by the Commission in order to determine whether or not what happened constituted a workplace accident.
  • What Benefits are Employees Entitled to After Termination?
    Leaving a job, whether intentionally, by being fired, or through circumstances beyond your control (such as layoffs), is almost always tinged with at least a little (and often a lot) of stress. One of the biggest concerns faced by many in this position is what sorts of benefits they are entitled to? Will their insurance continue? Are they guaranteed a severance? What happens if they cannot immediately find a job?
  • Habitually Absent, Tardy, or Sick? How to Deal with Employees Who Are Not Coming to Work
    Do you have a trouble employee that can never seem to make it to work when they are supposed to? Either they are always late or they are not there at all? How should you go about disciplining this employee, particularly if you have let it slide in the past? Is there any risk to firing someone for claiming too much sick time (even if they are entitled to those days under the terms of their employment)?
  • My Employer Didn't Pay Me, Now What?
    Employment law can be confusing and it can be difficult to learn what your rights are and what you are entitled to. When an employer does not pay for something (whether regular wages, overtime, tip splitting, reimbursements, or something else) it can be very frightening and confusing. Is the employer right? Should I even bother fighting? This is a list of ten workplace violations that employees should be aware of and for which legal help may be available:
  • Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
    The workers compensation process involves the Division of Workers’ Compensation, an insurance company, your employer, medical providers and potentially a liable third-party. It’s no wonder that injured workers find the process difficult to understand and hard to follow.
  • All Employment and Labor Law Articles

    Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Employment and Labor including: discrimination, employee benefits, employees rights, ERISA, human resources law, labor relations, outsourcing, sexual harassment, whistleblower, workers compensation and wrongful termination.

Employee Benefits Law - US

  • ABA - Section of Labor and Employment Law

    The Section of Labor and Employment Law is your link to information that matters to you. Our 22,000+ members represent all perspectives of labor and employment law: employer, union, employee, public, and neutral. All are committed to a balanced discussion of employment issues in the United States and abroad.

  • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA),

    The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), as amended, provides for premium reductions for health benefits under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, commonly called COBRA. Eligible individuals pay only 35 percent of their COBRA premiums and the remaining 65 percent is reimbursed to the coverage provider through a tax credit.

  • Cafeteria Plans Tax Code Section 125

    The tax rules that govern cafeteria plans are set out in tax code Section 125 and accompanying regulations. For payroll purposes, there are three key rules.

  • Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)

    COBRA gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events.

  • Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)

    The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is committed to educating and assisting the 150 million Americans covered by more than 708,000 private retirement plans, 2.8 million health plans, and similar numbers of other welfare benefit plans holding over $5 trillion in assets; as well as plan sponsors and members of the employee benefits community. EBSA balances proactive enforcement with compliance assistance and works diligently to provide quality assistance to plan participants and beneficiaries.

  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)

    The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established pension and health plans in private industry to provide protection for individuals in these plans.

  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

    The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) , which prescribes standards for the basic minimum wage and overtime pay, affects most private and public employment. It requires employers to pay covered employees who are not otherwise exempt at least the federal minimum wage and overtime pay of one-and-one-half-times the regular rate of pay.

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

    The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides an entitlement of up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during any 12-month period to eligible, covered employees for the following reasons: 1) birth and care of the eligible employee's child, or placement for adoption or foster care of a child with the employee; 2) care of an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent) who has a serious health condition; or 3) care of the employee's own serious health condition. It also requires that employee's group health benefits be maintained during the leave.

  • Fringe Benefits Rules

    A fringe benefit is a form of pay for the performance of services. For example, you provide an employee with a fringe benefit when you allow the employee to use a business vehicle to commute to and from work.

  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008

    In general, Title I of GINA prohibits health plans from discriminating against covered individuals based on genetic information. "Genetic information" includes family medical history and information regarding individuals' and family members' genetic tests and genetic services. Specifically, Title I of GINA states that health insurers may not use genetic information to make eligibility, coverage, underwriting, or premium-setting decisions.

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA, Title II)

    The Administrative Simplification provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA, Title II) required the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health plans, and employers. As the industry has implemented these standards, and increased the use of electronic data interchange, the nation's health care system will become increasingly effective and efficient.

  • Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA)

    The Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA), signed into law on September 26, 1996, requires that annual or lifetime dollar limits on mental health benefits be no lower than any such dollar limits for medical and surgical benefits offered by a group health plan or health insurance issuer offering coverage in connection with a group health plan. MHPA applies to group health plans for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 1998. The original sunset provision (providing that the parity requirements would not apply to benefits for services furnished on or after September 30, 2001) has been extended several times.

  • Paid Time Off (PTO)

    Paid time off (PTO) programs are on the rise because tracking employee leave can be a logistical nightmare. That's why many employers have turned to PTO policies to simplify time-off record-keeping, incentivize employees not to abuse absenteeism allowances, and make scheduling easier. Pitfalls include determining payouts for PTO when terminating employees, and calculating overtime when PTO is involved.

  • US Department of Labor

    The Department of Labor fosters and promotes the welfare of the job seekers, wage earners, and retirees of the United States by improving their working conditions, advancing their opportunities for profitable employment, protecting their retirement and health care benefits, helping employers find workers, strengthening free collective bargaining, and tracking changes in employment, prices, and other national economic measurements. In carrying out this mission, the Department administers a variety of Federal labor laws including those that guarantee workers’ rights to safe and healthful working conditions; a minimum hourly wage and overtime pay; freedom from employment discrimination; unemployment insurance; and other income support.

Organizations Related to Employee Benefits Law

  • Benefits.gov

    Benefits.gov is a partnership of Federal agencies with a shared vision - to provide improved, personalized access to government assistance programs.

  • DOL Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

    The DOL Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is responsible for enforcing some of our nation's most comprehensive federal labor laws on topics, including the minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, youth employment and special employment, family and medical leave, migrant workers, lie detector tests, worker protections in certain temporary worker programs, and the prevailing wages for government service and construction contracts.

  • Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)

    The mission of the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) is to contribute to, to encourage, and to enhance the development of sound employee benefit programs and sound public policy through objective research and education.

  • Employee Benefits Survey (EBS)

    National Compensation Survey - Benefits produces comprehensive data on the incidence (the percentage of workers with access to and participation in employer provided benefit plans) and provisions of selected employee benefit plans.

  • Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC)

    The Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the maintenance and expansion of private employee benefit programs on a tax-advantaged basis. The organization has two driving missions. The first is to represent and promote flexible compensation programs through effective lobbying. The second is to provide information on flexible compensation programs to member, national opinion leaders and the general public to help create a positive climate for the growth of flexible compensation.

  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

    The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

  • HR Policy Association

    HR Policy Association is the lead public policy organization of chief human resource officers from large employers. The Association consists of over 300 of the largest corporations doing business in the United States and globally. These major employers are represented in the organization by their most senior human resource executive. Collectively, their companies employ more than 18 million employees worldwide and have a combined market capitalization of more than $7.5 trillion. These senior corporate officers participate in the Association because of their passionate interest in the direction of human resource policy.

  • International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

    The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans is a nonprofit organization, dedicated to being a leading objective and independent global source of employee benefits, compensation and financial literacy education and information. The Foundation delivers education, information and research, and networking opportunities to thousands of benefits and compensation professionals who have come to rely on it for objective, accurate, and timely information. We invite you to discover what makes the International Foundation different—and how we work hard to provide our members with the latest benefits and compensation resources.

  • Legal Workplace - Employee Benefits

    The Alexander Hamilton Institute (AHI) has been helping executives manage their companies and their careers since 1909. Over the years, AHI has earned the reputation of being one of the most reliable providers of employment law information. Our products, publications and training courses provide employment law compliance information in a clear, concise, and practical manner that can effectively reduce the employment litigation risks at your company.

  • National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators (NAGDCA)

    The National Association of Government Defined Contribution Administrators (NAGDCA) was founded in 1980. NAGDCA is a professional organization made up of the deferred compensation/defined contribution plan administrators from the 50 states and over 100 local governments and entities, as well as the private industry plan providers

Publications Related to Employee Benefits Law

  • 401kHelpCenter.com - Daily Digest

    This digest contains a wide variety of source material dealing with current trends, opinion, news, legislative action, investments, marketing, sales, consulting, and legal issues regarding 401k and 403(b) plans. Each listing contains a headline (hyperlinked to the source document), description, source of the item, and the month and year posted to this digest.

  • Employee Benefit News

    The online home to Employee Benefit News, the benefit industry's leading magazine, and its related newsletters and conferences. This section is for private- and public-sector benefit plan sponsors with U.S. and global workforces looking for creative new ways to purchase, administer, and benchmark their benefits programs.

  • Employee Benefits Bibliography by Type

    The following bibliography includes publications that contain basic and market trend information relevant to employment-based benefits in the United States. It is intended as a reference for employers and plan sponsors. For the most part, the bibliography covers employer-designed benefits not mandated by law.