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JULY 2018

 

In This Issue:

Four New Laws Take Effect in Washington

By Ryan Orr, JD, HR and Compliance Consultant
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]

June 7 was a busy day for Washington employers, as four new employment laws took effect. If you have employees in Washington, you should be aware of these laws and make sure you adjust your practices accordingly.

Ban-the-Box – Washington employers can ask applicants about their criminal history only after a conditional offer of employment has been made.
Employment Agreement Claim Waivers – Employment agreements can no longer include waivers of state or federal anti-discrimination laws. They also cannot require that discrimination claims are resolved in a confidential preceding. Agreements to resolve claims in public arbitration settings are, however, still enforceable.
Non-Disclosure Limitations – Employers cannot require employees to sign – as a condition of employment or continued employment – non-disclosure agreements that prohibit employees from discussing sexual harassment or sexual assault in the workplace, at work-related events coordinated by the employer, between employees, or between an employer and an employee off-premises.
Pay Equity – As we’ve previously discussed, Washington has enacted a Pay Equity Law that is placing several new requirements on employers. For a detailed discussion of that law, please see our May Newsbrief article.

If you have Washington employees and questions about how to comply with any of these new laws, give us a call.

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Cascade Partners with CSNW Benefits – and Why That’s a Good Thing for You

By Gayle Klampe, President
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]

CSW Benefits Logo with TaglineFor nearly six decades, Cascade Employers Association has offered group health insurance to qualifying members through its sponsored Pacific Northwest Employers Life, Health Insurance Trust. And we’ve just taken that offering to a new level.

At first read, it may sound a little confusing: Cascade Employers Association + The Pacific Northwest Employers Life, Health Insurance Trust + CSNW Benefits. So we’ll help you get past that confusion right away and onto the reasons this is a good thing for our members.

Decades ago, Cascade was heavily involved with labor negotiations for a number of its member employers. Those employers wanted access to competitive group health insurance as an alternative to the union trust programs. Thus, Cascade formed a separate entity, The Pacific Northwest Employers Life, Health Insurance Trust. Over the years, Cascade has served as Plan Administrator for all Trust programs. Cascade and the Trust are fortunate to have remained one of the few viable association programs in Oregon to this day, thanks to guidance from top-notch consultants and advanced cost containment measures.

Effective July 1, 2018, Cascade entered a partnership with CSNW Benefits to help ensure the Trust’s offerings continue to be the best we can negotiate and that our members get the best customer service and resources available to help manage employee benefits. CSNW Benefits is an independent Portland-based firm with an exceptional reputation of transparency and an ultra-responsive approach to professionally implementing employee benefit programs, thus a great fit for our future path.

What’s the Difference Between an Independent Insurance Broker and an Association-Sponsored Group Insurance Program?

Let’s face it, managing employee health insurance, and benefits in general, isn’t a lot of fun. If an employer feels they are getting their employee benefits at a reasonable price (comparatively speaking), and they like and trust their independent broker, why spend the time looking elsewhere?

There are several good reasons. First, while most brokers have access to similar rates in the marketplace, they don’t all have access to the tools to help employers better and more easily manage employee benefits, such as online enrollment and benefits administration systems. And only the best brokers will come to your workplace to conduct employee education meetings to inform your people about how to access their benefits and what their benefits package includes. Then when it comes to unexpected insurance bills and claims questions, your people are likely directed straight to the insurance carrier to get their answers, which aren’t always easy to understand.

With an Association-sponsored group insurance program, employers get the advantage of participating with a large pool of employers in a common endeavor to combine high-quality care with advanced cost containment measures. There’s also typically a better customer service element, including a team to advocate for employees during difficult claim situations and features that make administration easier on the employer. While not all employers may be a fit for an association plan (you don’t automatically get really great rates just because you’re part of a group plan, as employee census information still plays a part in the equation), it’s definitely worth the time to explore one.

What Advantages Does Cascade’s Group Insurance Program Have that Most Others Don’t?

We know the reference to “great customer service” is often overstated, but in our situation the term “great” isn’t even adequate. Thanks now to CSNW Benefits and their dedicated team, they’re helping to ensure our service is unsurpassed. And the advantages don’t stop there.

Through Cascade’s program, employers and their employees get these services and resources at no additional cost:

  • Company-branded online enrollment and benefits administration system
  • Single-source billing (one bill for all of your group insurance offerings)
  • Assistance with COBRA, HIPAA, and other administrative and compliance issues
  • Advocacy on claim and benefit questions
  • Enrollment and education meeting support

Prior to your next health insurance renewal cycle, we encourage you to compare your plans to ours.

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Hot Compliance Question

By Ryan Orr, JD, HR and Compliance Consultant
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]

Question: Our company uses PTO to satisfy our Oregon Sick Leave obligations. We have an employee who has accrued 8 hours of PTO so far this year, and he has already used all of that time. He has now missed 4 consecutive days (32 hours) this week due to illness. What are our options?

Answer:  Under Oregon Sick Leave, you are obligated to protect only the first 40 hours of leave taken each year (your policy should state this explicitly.) However, even though this employee is taking leave for an Oregon Sick Leave reason, you do not have to protect any missed time if the employee has not actually accrued any hours. In this case, the employee may still receive protection for an additional 32 hours of PTO, but only after accruing it. The 4 consecutive days missed in this example are not protected by Oregon Sick Leave law.

There is, however, an additional consideration here. Because the employee has missed 4 consecutive days, his absences could possibly be protected by family leave. If you are a covered employer, you should send the employee the Notice of Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities, along with a medical certification form.

Once you receive the medical certification back from the employee’s health care provider, you will know whether the employee’s condition qualifies for family leave protection. If it does not, or if the employee does not return the form, the absences would be unprotected and your normal attendance policy would apply.

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HR Stats You Should Know

By Jenna Reed, JD, General Counsel and Director, Compliance Services
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]

68/35/21. These aren’t stats, but they are numbers you should know about Cascade’s Employee Engagement Surveys. With employee loyalty on the decline, now is a great time to find out what employees really think about their experience at your workplace. We've got new employee survey options designed to identify how satisfied and engaged your employees are, what keeps them there, and what might make them leave.

Here are the options available to get you the feedback you need from your employees:

68 Standard Survey Statements

This is the most comprehensive survey and is recommended for first time engagement surveys. It covers 10 different aspects of employment including pay, benefits, supervisor effectiveness, and work-life satisfaction.

35 Standard Survey Statements

This survey is recommended as a follow-up to a more comprehensive survey. While less comprehensive, it is still focused on the key drivers of employee engagement and satisfaction.

21 Standard Survey Statements

This survey isn't going to give you the depth of information our other surveys offer, but it is perfect for a quick check-in to see how your employees are doing.

Custom — Up to 15 Custom Survey Statements

If you have very specific areas you want feedback on, the custom survey is the option for you.

Don't forget, if you're a Member of Cascade, your membership also includes an annual Quick Pulse Survey.

If you want to talk about employee engagement more in-depth or need help figuring out what option is best for you, let’s talk!

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NLRB Working on Proposed Joint Employer Rule

By Ryan Orr, JD, HR and Compliance Consultant
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]

Sometime this summer, the National Labor Relations Board plans on issuing a proposed rule that will explain when more than one employer may be responsible for compliance with the National Labor Relations Act with respect to an employee. The current standard has been developed via Board decisions. Over the last couple years, the sands have shifted back and forth on this issue, as the makeup of the Board has shifted.

While the language of the proposed rule has not been developed yet, the rule is expected to be more employer-friendly than current board decisions. Additionally, the rule is expected to offer more specific guidance that should provide more certainty for employer decision making moving forward. If both these expectations prove to be true, this will be excellent news for employers.

So stay tuned this summer, and we’ll keep you updated when we see the proposed rule language.

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New Oregon Transit Tax Took Effect on July 1

By Ryan Orr, JD, HR and Compliance Consultant
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]

Just a quick a reminder that the new Oregon Transit tax went into effect on July 1, 2018.

Here are some of the details of the tax:

  • The tax is .001% ($1 per every $1000 of payroll) and does not have exemptions.
  • It must be included on the quarterly payroll tax report and paid quarterly with the exception of Agricultural and Domestic employers who file and pay annually.
  • It needs to be reported on the W-2 in Box 14.
  • The state has developed a flier that can be included with employee paystubs. That flier can be found here, on the state's Department of Revenue website.

If you have any questions about this new tax, feel free to give us a call.

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