Our project management system ensures that both clients and our company will handle information in optimal manner. We work closely with our clients to help finance, plan and deliver projects in the most effective and efficient way possible.
Compliance Checkpoint Tracking various laws and regulations impacting employee benefits can divert time and resources from your core functions such as recruiting top talent, developing strategic benefits and compensation programs, and meeting cost targets. How can you keep pace with evolving legislative and regulatory initiatives and still have the time, resources, and drive to sustain a destination workplace?
As a trusted advisor, Gallagher will help you navigate the ever-changing landscape of employee benefits compliance issues. This edition of Compliance Checkpoints is designed to help guide you as you work to decrease the risks associated with human capital management while maximizing your investment in your workforce, especially when confronted with potential compliance issues associated with offering employee benefits through a cafeteria plan.
Check out the action steps below aimed at helping you navigate often overlooked cafeteria plan compliance issues. Qualifying events relate to specific events that trigger COBRA or other continuation rights, such as termination of employment.
Permissible election changes essentially fall into three categories — changes in status, cost or coverage changes, and changes required by other laws or court orders. Changes in status generally relate to life events, such as marriage, birth or adoption of a child, and certain changes in employment status.
Cost or coverage changes relate to certain changes in the amount required to be paid or the nature of the underlying coverage for example, a significant cost increase or the addition of a new benefit. Regardless of the type of underlying event, it is important to remember that the focus is on the salary reduction agreement.
Is your organization correctly identifying permissible election changes? The IRS permits certain exceptions to that rule, which, as noted above, are called permissible election changes.
These exceptions permit individuals to change their salary reduction amounts in the middle of a plan year. The IRS rules for permissible election changes are a ceiling.
For example, an employer may not permit an employee to change a salary reduction agreement to reflect the addition of an existing spouse when the spouse becomes pregnant. However, the cafeteria plan may permit an employee to change a salary reduction agreement to reflect the increased cost associated with adding the spouse and child when the baby is born.
Thus, employers must limit mid-year permissible election changes to those outlined by the IRS and must administer their cafeteria plans accordingly.
Note, however, that an underlying benefit may permit an employee to change coverage for a wider range of reasons. Nonetheless, the employer may only permit the employee to change the amount taken out of his or her paycheck on a pre-tax basis for Recognize.
Often, cafeteria plan documents recognize permissible election changes based upon life events, but do not recognize significant changes in cost or changes in coverage. In contrast, some cafeteria plans make a general reference to IRS regulations and thus adopt all permissible changes.
Without the proper adoption, a pre-tax change in a salary reduction agreement should not be permitted. Thus, it is important to consult your cafeteria plan document to determine whether your organization has adopted a specific election change permitted by the IRS. If your cafeteria plan documents do not recognize a specific change, then you should not permit the employee to make a change to his or her pre-tax salary reduction amount.
Which election changes has your organization permitted that are not specifically adopted in your cafeteria plan documents? If both the IRS and your cafeteria plan document recognize a specific change in status, there are some additional hurdles to cross before approving the change.
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