Mar 31, 2010

Overall Employee Benefit Plans Concerns

Add a Note HereBecause employee benefits, as noted previously, provide such an important dimension of financial security in our society, some overall questions need to be asked to evaluate any existing or newly created employee benefit plan.

Add a Note HereEmployer and Employee Objectives

Add a Note HereThe design of any employee benefit plan must start with the objectives of the benefit plan from the standpoint of both employer and employee.

Add a Note HereWhat Benefits Should Be Provided?

Add a Note HereThere should be clearly stated reasons or objectives for the type of benefits to be provided. Benefits provided both under governmental programs and by the individual employees also should be considered.

Add a Note HereWho Should Be Covered Under the Benefit Plan?

Add a Note HereShould only full-time employees be covered? What about retirees or dependents? What about survivors of deceased employees? These and a host of similar questions must be carefully evaluated. Of course, some of these issues depend on regulatory and legislative rules and regulations.

Add a Note HereShould Employees Have Benefit Options?

Add a Note HereThis is becoming more and more of a crucial question under employee benefit plans because of the changing workforce. With the growth of flexible benefits or cafeteria plans, employee choice is on the increase. Even in nonflexible benefit plan situations, should some choices be given?

Add a Note HereHow Should Benefit Plans Be Financed?

Add a Note HereSeveral important questions need to be answered in determining the approach to funding employer benefit plans. Should financing be entirely provided by the employer (a noncontributory approach) or on some shared basis by the employer and employee (a contributory approach)? If on a contributory basis, what percentage should each bear?

Add a Note HereWhat funding method should be used? A wide range of possibilities exists, from a total insurance program to total self-funding with many options in between. Even when one of these options is selected, further questions still remain concerning the specific funding instrument to be used.

Add a Note HereHow Should the Benefit Plan Be Administered?

Add a Note HereShould the firm itself administer the plan? Should an insurance carrier or other benefit plan provider do the administration? Should some outside organization such as a third-party administrator (TPA) do this work? Once the decision is made, the specific entity must be selected.

Add a Note HereHow Should the Benefit Plan Be Communicated?

Add a Note HereThe best employee benefit plan in existence may not achieve any of its desired objectives if it is improperly communicated to all affected parties. The communication of employee benefit plans has become increasingly important in recent years with the increased employee choice in several benefit areas and increased reporting and disclosure requirements. Effective communication and education of what benefit plans will and will not do is essential if employees are to rely on such plans to provide part of their financial security at all stages of their lives. Technology has provided many new options in this area.

Add a Note HereFuture of Employee Benefits

Add a Note HereWith the spate of legislation affecting certain aspects of employee benefit plans, the varying needs of today's changing workforce and the outsourcing of many benefit functions, some benefit experts believe there may be more changes than ever before. While certain new approaches and techniques may be utilized, employee benefit plans are woven into the fabric of our society in such a way that the basic character or importance of such plans will not be changed. With pressures to contain healthcare and retirement costs ever increasing, greater efficiencies in the benefits approach, more tailoring to individual needs in the growth of flexible benefits or cafeteria compensation plans, and other refinements will drive the employee benefits mechanism. While it seems certain that employee benefits will not grow as rapidly as they have in the past, their place is secure and there will continue to be a demand for people who are knowledgeable about all aspects of the design, funding, administration, and communication of employee benefits in order to make such plans more effective while helping to provide for the economic security of society at large.


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