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Insights

Affordability Percentages Will Increase for 2019

Posted by Megan Zimmerman on July 12, 2018

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The IRS recently issued Revenue Procedure 2018-34 which increased the contribution percentages in 2019 for purposes of determining affordability under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For plan years beginning in 2019, employer-sponsored coverage will be considered affordable if the employee’s contribution for self-only coverage on an employer’s lowest-cost option (if more than one plan is offered) does not exceed:

  • 9.86% of the employee’s household income for the employer pay-or-play rules for applicable large employers and premium tax credit eligibility

What Employers Need to Know

Employers should work with their consultant to ensure that its funding strategies meet the affordability threshold for 2019 as this is a sizeable increase from the affordability percentage for 2018, which offers more flexibility in terms of employee contributions for medical coverage.

Since it can be difficult to determine an employee’s household income, employers may continue to use an affordability safe harbor to measure affordability of coverage. The three safe harbors measure affordability based upon Form W-2 wages, employee’s rate of pay or the federal poverty line (FPL) for a single individual.

Please click here for additional information.


Employee Retention Helps Maintain Company Success

Posted by Elizabeth Scull on July 12, 2018

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Businesses are familiar with the importance of employee retention, but many struggle when it comes to keeping their current employees.

High turnover in a company can be devastating both on performance and financial levels. It can cost nearly 20 percent of an employee’s annual salary just to replace them. Implementing proactive retention strategies can help businesses maintain their workforce and keep employees pleased with their employer.

There are many factors to consider when evaluating why an employee chooses to leave. Is it a better opportunity? Are better benefits being offered? Work verses home life balance?

Retention strategies help an employer stay engaged with their employees through formal and informal discussions that may help determine these factors.

“When your management team focuses on retention strategies, it is natural that they will become more engaged with their employees. Conversations about employees’ career goals and desires as well as frustrations, creates opportunities to customize retention strategies before losing good employees,” said Vanessa Lolli, Cobbs Allen Senior HR Consultant.

To help evaluate how your business may improve employee retention, Cobbs Allen has provided an Employee Retention Scorecard to determine if your organization has a high turnover risk, click here to download.


Temps Are Up- Watch for Worker Heat Hazards

Posted by Angela Wolfe on July 5, 2018

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Every year, thousands of workers become sick from occupational heat exposure. This includes working in both indoor and outdoor heat environments. More than 40 percent of heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry, but workers in every field are susceptible. There are a range of heat illnesses and they can affect anyone, regardless of age or physical condition. Operations involving high air temperatures, radiant heat sources (e.g., sunlight, hot exhaust), high humidity, direct physical contact with hot objects, or strenuous physical activities have a high potential for causing heat-related illness.

Employer Responsibility to Protect Workers

Under OSHA law, employers are responsible for providing workplaces free of known safety hazards. This includes protecting workers from extreme heat. An employer with workers exposed to high temperatures should establish a complete heat illness prevention program.

  • Provide workers with water, rest and shade.
  • Allow new or returning workers to gradually increase workloads and take more frequent breaks as they acclimatize, or build a tolerance for working in the heat.
  • Plan for emergencies and train workers on prevention.
  • Monitor workers for signs of illness.
Visit here for more information and industry-specific resources provided by OSHA.



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Employers can now begin to electronically report their Calendar Year (CY) 2017 Form 300A data to OSHA. All covered establishments must submit the information by July 1, 2018. Employers can view their submitted CY 2016 Form 300A summary information, but they cannot edit or submit additional 2016 data on this website. Remember, not all establishments are covered by this requirement. To review which establishments need to provide their 2017 data, click here.

Covered establishments with 250 or more employees are only required to provide their 2017 Form 300A summary data. OSHA is not accepting Form 300 and 301 information at this time. OSHA announced that it will issue a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to reconsider, revise, or remove provisions of the "Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses" final rule, including the collection of the Forms 300/301 data. The Agency is currently drafting that NPRM and will seek comment on those provisions.

Click here for more information and to launch the ITA.

 

30-Day Grace Period on Silica Rule Enforcement

Posted by Matthew Graham on June 20, 2018

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On June 8, 2018, OSHA announced it will offer a 30-day grace period for employers who make “good faith efforts” to comply with the OSHA silica rule. During this grace period, OSHA will offer compliance assistance to the employers mentioned above.


The new silica standard becomes enforceable for the general and maritime industries on June 23, 2018. The silica standard for the construction industry became effective on Sept. 23, 2017. The enforcement delay for qualifying employers in the general and maritime industries parallels the delay adopted for the enforcement of the silica standard for the construction industry.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The final rule establishes a new permissible exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica.
  • Employers must implement specific measures to protect workers.
  • The intent of the rule is to reduce the risk of diseases caused by exposure to respirable crystalline silica.

IMPORTANT DATES

  • March 25, 2016 - Publication date for the final rule on respirable crystalline silica.
  • September 23, 2017 - Enforcement for employers in the construction industry.
  • June 23, 2018 - Enforcement for employers in the general and maritime industries.

ACTION STEPS

Affected employers in the general and maritime industries that wish to use the 30-day grace period should prepare to prove they have made “good faith efforts” to comply with the rule.


Cobbs Allen Welcomes Winston Durbin

Posted by Elizabeth Scull on June 20, 2018

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Cobbs Allen is pleased to welcome Winston Durbin to our corporate office. Winston joins as a Risk Consultant in our Entrepreneurial Business Unit. In this role, he will specialize in providing property and casualty insurance to small businesses in and around the Birmingham area.

Winston joins Cobbs Allen as a recent graduate from Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business with a Bachelors of Business Administration. Prior to joining Cobbs Allen, he served as Assistant Program Director at Pine Cove camps and worked at J&M Bookstore in Auburn for seven years. He will be an excellent addition to the Cobbs Allen team.


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Grantland Rice IV, Chief Operating Officer at Cobbs Allen, has added “community champion” to the many hats he wears as a Birmingham citizen and professional.

Grantland has taken on a voluntary role with the launch of Mountain Brook High School’s experiential entrepreneurship program—the first of its kind in the state of Alabama. Known as “INCubatoredu,” the course allows students to express their own professional talents through the creation of new product and service innovations.

“I am very excited to help launch the IncubatorEDU program at Mountain Brook High School,” Rice said. “Birmingham has such a wealth of business talent, and I am looking forward to connecting experienced business leaders with the students.”

In addition to his involvement with INCubatoredu, the 2002 Mountain Brook High School alumnus is involved with the Birmingham Venture Club and currently serves on the Mountain Brook School’s Career Tech Advisory Committee. Grantland will now have the opportunity to share his experiences and knowledge with the Mountain Brook students who follow in his footsteps.


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