Benefits news you may have missed: May 11-15

Is COVID-19 a turning point for workplace mental health? With the coronavirus pandemic putting the spotlight on a growing number of mental health conditions and how they affect employees, experts say companies need to step up and take a hard look at gaps or flaws in their coverage. But as employers turn to new programs and start to shift their culture as a result of the new environment, will things change permanently? Read more here.

Here’s how employers are changing benefits due to COVID-19: Despite some companies reducing costs though furloughs, pay cuts and reductions to 401(k) matching contributions, nearly half of employers surveyed by Willis Towers Watson say they’re enhancing healthcare benefits and broadening wellbeing programs as a result of the current environment. More yet are turning to leave programs and other offerings as employees report significant challenges during the pandemic. Read more here.

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Mid-year healthcare changes allowed due to coronavirus: The IRS is giving employers permission to let workers make changes to their health plans and flex accounts. But employers have to opt-in if they want to give their employees added flexibility. Read more here.

McDonald’s handing out coronavirus-related bonuses: McDonald’s is handing out bonuses to every worker at its company-owned stores as a way to thank them for working during the coronavirus pandemic. The fast food giant is the latest employer to turn to one-time payments to help employees during the coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.

Employees unaware of EAPs: While the vast majority (93%) of HR professionals say they offer an employee assistance program, nearly half of workers say their employer doesn’t offer an EAP or are unsure if they do, according to new research out from benefits provider Unum. A look at what that finding means for HR leaders. Read more here.

Coronavirus resource spotlight: Scripta’s drug substitution search tool: Here’s a look at a resource that allow employees to find alternatives to their prescription drugs–now available free of charge during the pandemic. Read more here.

Employers making PTO changes because of COVID: More than one in four employers say they are making changes to leave programs to enhance employee flexibility and lessen the buildup of accrued days by year-end, according to a survey of 817 employers from consulting firm Willis Towers Watson. Here’s what that number means to HR leaders. Read more here.

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Coronavirus resource spotlight: guide to digital mental health solutions: A look at a new guide– from the Northeast Business Group on Health and One Mind PsyberGuide–that provides HR and benefits leaders information to assess and select digital mental health solutions. 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.