Major Features Present on the Website
Employee benefits refer to all benefits and services offered to employees other than wages, or are provided to employees in whole or in part by their employers. Today most of the companies have a benefit plan, but the success of the plan depends on effective monitoring of employee benefits (Reddick & Coggburn, 2008). The website “Continuation of Health Coverage — COBRA” includes a number of features, which are really useful to monitor employee benefits. The major features present on the website as well as helpful to monitor employee benefits are as follows:
Wages: Wages provides a discussion of the wages applicable for employees or workers on the basis of working hours. This feature at the websites includes an all essential discussion of the wages. The Department of Labor enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which sets basis minimum wages and overtime pays standards, which in turn assist in determining as well as monitoring the benefits. Benefits provided to employees significantly depends on the wages given to them as if wages are low due to budget constraints, the benefits offered should be more or vice versa (Garlough, 2011). The discussion of wage on the basis of back pay, commissions, educational level & pay, government contracts, Hazard pay, holiday pay, merit pay, severance pay, subminimum wage, etc., is really helpful to become able to monitor employee benefits.
A thorough understanding of the wages provided is essential for designing and monitoring a benefits plan. Changes in basis wages may provide a base to change benefits so, this is the reason this feature of the website is really helpful to monitor employee benefits. In addition to the FLSA, the Wage and Hour Division enforces several other labor laws related to wage payment such as Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, Service Contract Act, Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act, Walsh-Healy Public Contracts Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Immigration and National Act of 1990 (Garlough, 2011). All these acts related to wage and benefits significant assist in monitoring employee benefits. Without specific laws and standards it is really difficult to monitor employee benefits.
Unemployment Insurance: Next major feature of this website useful to monitor employee benefits is unemployment insurance. The Department of Labor’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs provides unemployment benefits to eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own, and fulfill certain other eligibility requirements. UI provides a detailed discussion on the website that who is eligible for these benefits and how he/she can file a claim. With the help of information related to the UI, workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own may become able to get significant benefits (Health Plans and Benefits, 2013). All these laws and standards passed by state governments provide a chance to monitor employee benefits programs on the basis of criteria set to provide benefits or insurance to unemployed people who also fulfill the eligibility requirements of state law.
Continuation of Health Coverage — COBRA: The next major feature of the website is COBRA (The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), which gives workers and their families, who lose their health benefits the right to select the continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances like voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, divorce, death, and other life events (Keith, 2011). This Act and the description provided in it regarding the health plans and benefits is really helpful to understand how these group health plans can be sponsored, and who is eligible for it and how one can become part of it. COBRA discussion on this website outlines, how employees and their family members may elect continuation coverage. The health benefits given in this Act are really helpful to monitor employees’ benefits.
How Employers could verify their Employees Benefits
The information given on the website is really helpful for both the employers as well as employees. The page http://www.dol.gov/dol/audience/aud-employers.htm#jobapplicants provides a shortcut to information and services the Department of Labor (DOL) offers employers. All links given on this page provide a key to employers to verify that their employee benefits comply with all federal laws. Initially, the website provides compliance assistance information and resources to help an employer understand which DOL laws apply to their business, so that they can become able to verify the eligibility of employees to the benefits provided.
The key links given on the above mentioned page helpful for employers are Employer Assistance Referral Network (EARN), and Employment and Training Administration, which provide all essential information to verify that an employee comply with all federal laws. Another key point of retirement benefit, mentioned on the page is also helpful for employers, to collect information about e-laws Small Business Retirement Savings Advisor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), EBSA Compliance Assistance Information, Retirement and Health Care Coverage for Dislocated Workers, Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) Retirement Plans For Small Businesses, and Women and Retirement Savings (Español) (Cihon & Castagnera, 2008).
For collecting information regarding health benefits and verifying that employees comply with all federal laws is to collect information from health benefits, which includes consumer information on health plans, and all health benefits laws for employees and the criteria to claim that benefits. Health Benefits under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is also really helpful to identify the criteria needed by employees to claim a benefit. Every health benefit provided has its own criteria, which if fulfilled can be provided to employees (Cook, 2006).
How Employees can Use this Information to ensure their Benefits Rights
The information given on website in different features and sub-features, significantly assist employees in regard to using it to be able to ensure that their benefits’ rights are protected in the following manner:The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is a key in regard as it administers a number of important health benefit laws comprehending employer-based health plans. They help employees in governing their basic right to information about how health plan works, how they can qualify for benefits, and how they can claim for benefits. There are several other specific laws which protect your right to health benefits. With the help of following tips an employee may become able to ensure his benefits right:
Realize that Your Options are important: Select a plan among different health benefit plans with a discussion to HR manager, and the health plan administrator, or union. Having more information is really essential to ensure benefits rights.Review the Benefits Available: The plan made available need to be reviewed significantly to identify does it comprehends preventive care, well-baby care, vision or dental care? Are there any deductibles? With these types of review, one may become able to have best possible and high quality benefits.
Read Your Plan’s Summary Plan Description (SPD): Reading SPD is essential to have the Wealth of Information, outlining benefits and employees legal rights under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Federal law that protects your health benefits. In addition to this, the employee also needs to access its Benefit Coverage as his/her Family Status Changes (Cook, 2006). At the same time, he also needs to be aware of changing jobs and other life events, which can affect his/her health benefits. In addition to this there are number of laws (The Employee Retirement Income Security Act, The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act, The Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act, The Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act, The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, and The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act) related to employees benefits, which if known may significantly assist in ensuring their benefits rights are protected (Jennings, 2006).
Outline of the Website
This website is really helpful, which could also be understood with the following outline of this website:
On DOL Home Page, there is a link given to find the topic needed as when health plans were entered in its search box, the page http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/health-plans/cobra.html open and provides a thorough discussion of health plan and benefits. On the right side of the website the different subtopic available to collect information are given which includes different sub-topics, which are:
- Child Care Assistance
- Compliance Assistance
- Consumer Information on Health Plans
- Continuation of Health Coverage (COBRA)
- Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
- Fiduciary Responsibilities
- Health Benefits Education
- Mental Health Benefits
- Newborns’ & Mothers’ Protections (Newborns’ Act)
- Participant Rights
- Plan Information
- Portability of Health Coverage (HIPAA)
- Womens’ Health & Cancer Rights Protections
On the left side of the page information, which could be made available through e-mail is given by classifying as per their categories. It includes information by topic, by audience, by location, laws and regulations, budget and performance information etc. All topics include different DOL pages to have more information, so the website and the information given in it are really helpful.
- Cihon, P.J. & Castagnera, J.O. (2008) Employment and Labor Law (6th ed.). USA: Cengage Learning.
- Cook, M.F. (2006). The Complete Do-it-Yourself Human Resources Department, 2007. USA: Aspen Pub.
- Garlough, R. (2011). Modern Food Service Purchasing. USA: Cengage Learning.
- Health Plans and Benefits. (2013). Continuation of Health Coverage — COBRA. Retrieved from http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/health-plans/cobra.htm
- Jennings, M. (2006). Business: Its Legal, Ethical and Global Environment (7th ed.). USA: Cengage Learning.
- Keith, R. (2011). Budget Reconciliation Process: The Senate?s ?Byrd Rule?. USA: DIANE Publishing.
- Reddick, C.G. & Coggburn, J.D. (2008). Handbook of Employee Benefits and Administration. USA: CRC Press.