Benefits news you may have missed: April 5-9

Mayer: 5 ways COVID-19 has changed benefits–forever: It’s amazing how fast time can fly in a pandemic. With more than a year of COVID-19 under our belts, we’ve seen unprecedented change in the workplace–and transformation in the area of employee benefits is no exception. The crisis has not only significantly shifted how companies look at and craft their benefits, but it has changed the way they communicate about their offerings and respond to workers’ needs. And what is perhaps most interesting of all is just what kind of a long-term impact this will have going forward. Here are five ways COVID-19 has reshaped benefits during the pandemic–and beyond. Read more here.

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Why LinkedIn is giving its workers a week off: LinkedIn is giving its 15,900 full-time employees a paid week off to help them combat burnout. The week, which begins April 5, is meant to encourage workers to unplug and recharge. “We wanted to make sure we could give them something really valuable, and what we think is most valuable right now is time for all of us to collectively walk away,” Teuila Hanson, LinkedIn’s chief people officer, told CNN. Hanson said LinkedIn began surveying its workers regularly during the pandemic to gauge how they felt and found that workers have felt especially stressed out. Read more here.

Volvo adopts 24-week gender-neutral paid parental leave policy: Volvo Cars is increasing paid parental leave for employees globally up to six months regardless of gender, the company announced. The policy gives two options to all employees with at least one year’s service: either a total of 24 weeks of leave at 80% of their base pay by default, which can be taken anytime within the three first years of parenthood, or 19 weeks of 100% paid parental leave beginning within 36 months of birth. The policy applies to all legally registered parents, including adoptive, permanent foster care and surrogate parents, as well as non-birth parents in same-sex couples. The new policy took effect April 1. Read more here.

To learn more about the current stay of employee benefits, register for HRE‘s HBLC (it’s virtual and FREE) here.

Want to spur HSA use? Borrow lessons from retirement planning: Though more than half (54%) of employers have added health savings accounts to their retirement plans in an effort to help employees gain ground, 38% of plan sponsors say they would like an assist in persuading people to use them. While few retirees have any idea what their health expenses will be, administrators can leverage many of the lessons they’ve learned from work to boost participation in 403(b) accounts to encourage the use of HSAs. Read more here.

Despite burnout risk, employees not taking time off: Seven in 10 workers are saving their paid time off for travel once the country begins to reopen, according to a new poll of 2,504 workers from Monster. The survey data is the latest to find that employees are largely not taking time off during the pandemic–which is especially problematic because burnout and stress are soaring among employees as they work long hours and have their home and work lives blurred during COVID-19. Read more here.

COVID-19 PPE is now HSA, FSA eligible: Employers have welcome benefits guidance to share with employees: Workers can now use their health savings account, flexible spending account or health reimbursement arrangement for face masks and other personal protective equipment used to prevent COVID-19. PPE used for “the primary purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19”–including face masks, hand sanitizer, gloves and sanitizing wipes–can be treated as medical expenses, the IRS quietly announced last week. Read more here.

Inside one HR leader’s aggressive COVID-19 vaccination plan: Roanica Paisley of Rising Ground in New York is leaning on robust education, PTO and credible messengers to get 1,600 workers vaccinated. Read more here.

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.