Independence has been a goal of Americans since the founding of our country, and those with their own companies tend to be particularly independent. Some people start their own business believing that it is the only route to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”; only to later realize the headaches that can come along with owning and managing a business. While they began their business to gain independence, they lose the freedom that they dream of. They become saddled with letting their business’ rule their lives, depriving them of time with family and friends, and even at times their health.
It is time as business owners to create your own Declaration of Independence!
- Independence from rising administrative costs. Outsourcing your HR administration relieves business owners from the complex HR matters of benefits, workers’ compensation claims, payroll, tax administration, regulatory compliance, etc., and by doing so reduces your overhead.
- Independence from focusing on the mundane. Outsourcing your HR enables small business owners to focus on their core competencies, rather than focusing on running payroll, providing employee benefits, or the many other facets of human resource administration. Outsourcing allows business owners to concentrate on their passion, without being distracted by countless human resources responsibilities.
- Independence from the worry of regulatory compliance. Outsourcing your HR administration can keep business owners compliant by working as their off-site HR department, with the back-up of legal counsel partners, firms specializing in workplace law. Outsourcing can help you reduce your risk and vulnerabilities to Federal, State, Local and Professional Regulatory changes.
- Independence from the nightmare of Workers Compensation Insurance and Risk Management. Outsourcing can help improve the work environment and make it safer by focusing on workplace risk management, safety programs, and good human resource practices. Additionally, when you outsource with a PEO, such as HR Strategies, they can arrange workers’ compensation coverage with major insurance carriers, provide their clients with training on safety and government compliance in regards to workers compensation and risk management, and manage the complexity of claims.
- Independence from the burden of human resource administration and paperwork. When you outsource your HR needs to a PEO you receive assistance with all of the complications and paperwork that go along with the employee lifecycle: writing help wanted ads and job descriptions; drug screening and verifications; new hire candidate assessment tools; new hire paperwork, including I-9 compliance; customized employee handbooks; employee policies and procedures; Federal and State required postings; human resource, supervisor, and compliance training; EEOC claims; Employment Practices Liability Insurance; Employee Assistance Program; compliance with IRS, INS, ADA, EEOC, FMLA, FLSA, DOT, COBRA, Title VII, etc.; discipline and termination counseling; investigation of employee/employer and employment complaints.
Declare Your Independence today by calling HR Strategies at 770-339-0000!
In 1985, U.S. Congress passed COBRA, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan and became official on April 7, 1986. COBRA allows 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. Circumstances may include voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events. COBRA coverage is available for 18 months for job termination either voluntary or in-voluntary, or the reduction of working hours. Disability can extend the 18 month period of continuation coverage, for a qualifying event that is a termination of employment or reduction of hours, for an additional 11 months if certain requirements are met. Coverage is available for 36 months for death, divorce, legal separation, loss of dependent child status, and the entitlement to Medicare.
COBRA requires that group health plans sponsored by employers with 20 or more employees offer employees and their families continuation coverage in certain instances where coverage under the plan would otherwise end. To be qualified for COBRA an individual should be covered by a group health plan on the day before a qualifying event. In addition, any child born to or placed for adoption with a covered employee during the period of COBRA coverage is considered a qualified beneficiary. Continuation coverage provided under COBRA should be identical to that available to participants who are not receiving COBRA coverage under the plan, and any change in benefits under the plan for active employees also applies to COBRA participants. Participants must also be allowed to make the same choices given to non-COBRA participants under the plan, such as during periods of open enrollment by the plan. Employers must notify plan administrators within 30 days of a qualifying event; plan participants and beneficiaries must then be sent an election notice within 14 days after notice of the qualifying event. The individual then has 60 days to decide whether to elect COBRA continuation coverage. Even if COBRA coverage is initially waived during the election period, the waiver of coverage may be revoked before the end of the election period. Group health coverage for COBRA participants is generally more expensive than health coverage for active employees, since usually the employer pays a part of the premium for active employees while COBRA participants pay the entire premium themselves plus a 2% administrative fee. COBRA premiums may be increased if the costs to the plan increase but are generally fixed in advance of each 12-month premium cycle. The initial premium payment must be made within 45 days; and if premiums are not paid by the first day of the period of coverage going forward, the plan has the option to cancel coverage until payment is received and then reinstate coverage retroactively to the beginning of the period of coverage. When a participant is no longer eligible for health coverage they must be provided with notice of such. COBRA may end earlier than the allotted time if premiums are not paid on a timely basis or the employer ceases to maintain any group health plan.
COBRA can be very involved and time consuming. There are many details in the qualifications and in the administration of COBRA. In addition to the terms and rights of COBRA as stated above and enforced by the federal government, Georgia has its own form of continuation coverage laws. Georgia continuation coverage is for employees of companies with 2-19 employees, who because of the limited number of staff would normally not be covered by COBRA. The Georgia continuation coverage is similar to COBRA with the main differences being that it is for 3 months only, and the employee had to be covered by the policy for the prior 6 months before the qualifying circumstance. HR Strategies is well versed in the qualifications and regulations of COBRA and Georgia Continuation Coverage, and can provide flawless administration of both to qualified participants. It is just one more way that we are able to free our clients from a burdensome but necessary HR task, and ensure that they are staying compliant with employment regulations.