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Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in employee benefits insurance including group medical, dental, vision, life insurance, short and long term disability, voluntary life, employee assistance programs, wellness programs, individual life insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are experts can provide valuable services including benefits plan design and administration, human resources support, funding options, compliance assistance, benefit administration, and enrollment services. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.

Employee Benefits New FMLA Forms Issued by the DOLThe Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year and that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave. This law applies to all public agencies, public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees. Covered employees may take leave under FMLA for the following reasons:

  • The birth and care of a newborn child
  • The placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care
  • To care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition, including a spouse, child, or parent
  • If an employee has a serious health condition and is unable to perform the essential functions of their job
  • Any qualifying exigency relating to a spouse, child, or parent who is a military member and on covered active duty or called to covered active duty status

 

What Changes Were Made to New FMLA Forms?
New FMLA forms were released in July 2020 by the Department of Labor (DOL). The new forms make it easier for employers, employees, leave administrators, and healthcare providers to gather and deliver data. DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), which made the announcement and oversees FMLA enforcement, indicates that the updates will result in the following improvements:

  • Reduce the time users spend providing information
  • Improve communications between leave applicants and administrations
  • Reduce the likelihood of violations

 

In-Depth: How Do the Updated FMLA Forms Work?
In a recent article, legal publication The National Law Review points out while the forms are optional, they “include information that must be communicated to the employee.” The updated forms include:

  • Form WH-381 (Notice of Eligibility & Rights and Responsibilities): This form alerts employees about eligibility requirements under the FMLA, and should be delivered to workers upon requesting FMLA leave. The new version of this form makes it easier for employees to indicate why they’re requesting leave and when they plan to return.
  • Form WH-382 (Designation Notice): This form is delivered to employees to alert them if a requested leave has been designated as covered under FMLA. It also includes the approved amount of FMLA leave. According to SHRM, the latest update outlines steps employees should take if they filled out an insufficient request.
  • Forms WH-380-E and WH-380-F (Certification of Health Care Provider for Employee’s Serious Health Condition): Each of these forms should be used when an employer requests an employee to submit verification of their medical reason for leave. The first form is reserved for employees with serious health conditions and the second applies to employees’ family members with serious health conditions. Now, these forms require providers to include a “best estimate” of future treatment.
  • Forms WH-384, WH-385, and WH-385-V (Certifications for Military Family Leave): Form WH-384 applies to eligible employees whose spouse, child, or parent is an active duty member of the military or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty. Form WH-385 applies to eligible employees who need to care for a covered servicemember with a serious illness or injury. Finally, Form WH-385-V applies to eligible employees seeking to take FMLA leave to care for a covered veteran with a serious illness or injury.

 

We will continue to share information as it becomes available and keep you informed.

Ryan Laude is a Client Advisor at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in employee benefits. Ryan works with a wide range of businesses to create the best funding options that fit their needs. Comments and questions are welcome at rlaude@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in employee benefits insurance including group medical, dental, vision, life insurance, short and long term disability, voluntary life, employee assistance programs, wellness programs, individual life insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are experts can provide valuable services including benefits plan design and administration, human resources support, funding options, compliance assistance, benefit administration, and enrollment services. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.

Employee Benefits IRS Releases 2021 Limits for Health Savings AccountsThe Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued Revenue Procedure 2020-32 which includes maximum contribution, deductible and out-of-pocket maximum limits for Health Savings Accounts and HSA-compatible high deductible health plans (HDHP) for the 2021 calendar year. These amounts are updated each year to reflect cost-of-living adjustments.

What is an HSA and who is eligible?
An HSA is a tax-exempt savings account that employees can use to pay for qualified health expenses. To be eligible for an HSA, one must:

  • Be covered by a qualified high deductible health plan (HDHP)
  • Not have any disqualifying health coverage (non-HDHP)
  • Not be enrolled in Medicare
  • Not be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return


The 2021 HSA max contributions have increased to: 

  • Single Coverage: $3,600 ($50 increase from 2020)
  • Family Coverage: $7,200 ($100 increase from 2020)


The 2021 HDHP Minimum Deductible*: 

  • Single Coverage: $1,400 ($0 change from 2020)
  • Family Coverage: $2,800 ($0 change from 2020)


2021 HDHP Maximum Out-of-Pocket Limit**: 

  • Single Coverage: $7,000 ($100 increase from 2020)
  • Family Coverage: $14,000 ($200 increase from 2020)


For those 55 and older, catch-up contributions remain at $1,000. 

* The deductible does not apply to preventative care services, nor to services related to COVID-19 testing. 

** If the HDHP is a non-grandfathered plan, a per-person limit of $8,550 also will apply due to ACA’s cost-sharing provision for essential health benefits. 

Employee Benefits What to Do if an Employee Tests Positive for CoronavirusIt’s very likely that if you’re considering reopening your office—or if you already have—that you’ve taken the time to communicate a return-to-work action plan to your employees.

Likewise, it’s recommended that all employers consult a reopening checklist to ensure that they’re keeping their team as safe as possible before and during the first phases of workplace re-entry.

Consider the following CDC recommendations for workplace reopening:

  • Employees must remain six feet apart at all times
  • Employees must be masked while in the office
  • Additional disinfection services must be offered
  • Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the office

 

Yet even these measures may not completely mitigate the risk of spread within the workplace—particularly if you or an employee unknowingly contracts the virus outside of the office.

Before an Employee Tests Positive
First, it’s vital that you already have a plan in place even before an employee tests positive for COVID-19. According to the CDC, all employers should implement plans that are specific to their workplace, identify all areas and job tasks with potential exposure to COVID-19, and include measures to limit or eliminate such exposure.

With proper preparation, you’ll be able to move quickly so that you’re proactively protecting your team and customers (if applicable). It’s even recommended that each workplace identifies a teammate to handle COVID-19-related responsibilities.

Remember also that there are questions that you can and can’t ask employees regarding their health status and the pandemic. The last thing an organization needs on top of a coronavirus outbreak is a lawsuit claiming that you’ve infringed on your employees’ rights.

What Should I Do if an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19?
While every case represents a unique instance of infection—as every office and industry are different—stick to the following CDC-recommended measures once a team member tests positive (or is suspected to have a COVID-19 infection):

  1. If the sick worker has been in the office within the past seven days, close off any areas used for prolonged periods of time by that individual
    • If the sick worker has not been in the office within the past seven days, additional disinfection is not necessary
    • If you have a small office where all teammates are co-mingled, employers should treat the entire space as infected and revert to remote work until the office has been properly disinfected and exposed employees have worked from home and self-monitored their symptoms for 14 days (see step #5 for more details)
  2. Wait 24 hours (or as long as possible) before disinfection to prevent exposure to respiratory droplets in the infected area
  3. Open windows and doors during the 24-hour waiting period to increase air circulation
  4. Identify which employees may have been exposed and inform them of their potential exposure (but keep details confidential as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act)
  5. Follow the CDC’s Public Health Recommendations for Community-Related Exposure, including instructing employees to work from home for 14 days following last exposure
  6. While no specific CDC guidelines exist for reopening after 24 hours, employers should consider following procedures similar to their initial reopening, as well as the previous points listed above

Note: The CDC says that “employers should not require a COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or to return to work,” as many healthcare providers may be backed up and unable to provide this kind of documentation in a timely manner. 

We will continue to share information as it becomes available and keep you informed.

Ryan Laude is a Client Advisor at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in employee benefits. Ryan works with a wide range of businesses to create the best funding options that fit their needs. Comments and questions are welcome at rlaude@gulfshoreinsurance.com

OSHA 1

OSHA has recently published a new Guidance on Returning to Work document for “non-essential” businesses planning to reopen.

While OSHA has published this as a guide – and stresses that no new standards or regulations are being created – it does revisit and mention several existing mandatory health and safety standards, and cites applicable labor, disability, and employment laws including the following:

  • General Duty Clause
    Requires employers to provide their employees a workplace that is free from recognized hazards that can cause death or serious physical harm
  • Employee Exposure and Medical Records
    Requires employers to adequately secure medical records for the duration of the employee’s tenure plus 30 years and follow confidentiality requirements. This regulation may impact employers that implement health screenings or temperature checks that are documented.
  • What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws
    Includes a section of technical questions and answers, how to properly conduct screenings, what applicable regulations exist, and best practices for “Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace.”

 

OSHA’s return to work publication also revisits the phases of reopening and stresses the importance of adhering to the enforcement and requirements of the Federal Government, state and local governments (including state-OSHA plans), as well as following public health recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The list of guiding principles from OSHA’s latest publication are summarized below:
The principles were designed to assist employers with developing best practices, while stressing the importance of communication and effective employee training. Please note, these principles are not considered complete. To further this point, OSHA has provided additional recommendations and guidance on COVID-19 preparation.

  • Hazard Assessment
    Review job duties and determine potential workplace exposures to COVID from customers, visitors, or co-workers
  • Hygiene
    Have soap, water, paper towels, and/or hand sanitizer dispensers available for occupants to use and encourage frequent hand washing through signage and ease of access. Identify high-traffic areas and schedule frequent cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces
  • Social Distancing
    Limit the total number of occupants to ensure safe distances can be kept. Mark floors in six-foot sections, provide lanes or traffic-flow indicators (i.e. arrows) where width or space is an issue, and have signage up reminding occupants to keep safe distances
  • Identification and Isolation
    Ask employees to self-monitor for symptoms or potential exposures before coming to work. Establish a protocol in the event an employee becomes ill while at work and needs to be isolated
  • Return to Work after Illness or Exposure
    Refer to the CDC Guidelines for returning to work after an illness or exposure.
  • Controls
    Develop appropriate controls to protect workers and minimize potential exposures. This can include erecting physical barriers, establishing new Standard Operating Procedures, re-evaluating Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements, and limiting capacity in areas through staggered shifts, or conducting meetings in virtual environments
  • Workplace Flexibilities
    If possible, provide work-from-home options to employees, and revisit sick leave, or vacation policies
  • Training
    Ensure that any training conducted is done so in the employee’s native language, and if formal, at their reading level. Training should also include best practices on workplace and self-hygiene, as well as proper use, disinfecting, and storage of PPE, along with its limitations
  • Anti-Retaliation
    Reassure employees that they will not be retaliated against for raising concerns about their safety or health. Review their rights with them and provide a list of who employees should contact if they have questions or concerns

 

Please refer to the Guidance on Returning to Work document to review Frequently Asked Questions with respect to COVID-19, and other services and programs made available by OSHA to assist employers in complying with their responsibilities under the law.

For your convenience, Gulfshore Insurance has compiled all COVID-19 resources to one area on our website. We will continue to update you as more information becomes available.