Benefits news you may have missed: Nov. 8-12

From how legal challenges are affecting employers’ plans for the vaccine mandate to new 401(k) and FSA limits, here are some of the week’s top stories.
By: | November 12, 2021

As the vaccine mandate gets tied up in court, what should employers do? A federal appeals court temporarily halted the Biden administration’s vaccine requirements for employers with 100 or more workers, evidence that the administration’s goal to have employers help boost COVID-19 vaccination rates may face an uphill battle. The stay puts in question the future of Biden’s vaccine rule, prompting employer confusion as well. Read more here.

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The employer COVID-19 mandate: 5 things HR leaders should do now: After waiting two months for the release of the official rule (and deadlines) on the Biden administration’s employer vaccine mandate—which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration unveiled Nov. 4—employers can finally move ahead with plans to comply with the rule. But how should they do it? It’s a lot about education, fast decision-making and communication, experts say. Here are five things employers should do now that the rule has been unveiled. Read more here.

Here are the new 401(k), FSA contribution limits for 2022: After not increasing employee contributions this year, the agency says workers can sock away more money into their 401(k)s and their health FSAs next year. Read more here.

Onsite COVID testing tech has arrived—but there’s a catch: Following last week’s announcement of the new OSHA guidelines mandating that firms with more than 100 employees that do not require vaccinations provide proof that unvaccinated employees are tested weekly, HR technology providers are offering tools and services for both remote and onsite COVID-19 testing. But there’s a hitch. Read more here.

6 ways COVID-19 is changing open enrollment this year: COVID-19 certainly changed open enrollment last year—it was virtual for most employers, for one thing—and changes to the annual process are still occurring as the pandemic continues. From the use of technology to employees taking a more detailed look at their benefits because of the Delta variant, here is how OE is different this year. Read more here.

The latest on vaccine mandates: Here are HRE’s top stories: Wondering what the mandate rule entails, what to do now, how to handle exemptions or what employers think? Take a look at HRE’s recent coverage. Read more here.

‘We have a crisis’: HR’s mandate on mental health: With all of the social upheaval over the last year-and-a-half, Americans have had enough and are showing signs of extreme sensitivity, one expert says. And it’s bound to bleed into the workplace. Read more here.

5 expert takeaways from the new OSHA vaccine mandate: The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration unveiled details of the long-awaited rule following President Joe Biden’s announcement in September requiring U.S. employers with 100 or more workers to ensure employees are either fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or tested each week for the virus. The long-awaited and far-reaching rule that is expected to cover some 84 million employees has extensive implications for employers, who until recently have largely stuck to carrots instead of sticks in encouraging their employees to get vaccinated. Here is what the experts say on five major implications of the rule. Read more here.

Healthcare equity: Programs that can improve your benefits plan: The pandemic has given rise to wide recognition of—and increased calls to address—longstanding disparities in health and healthcare. But there are steps employers can take today to help close the health equity divide, experts say. Read more here.

HR tech Number of the Week: ID theft: As open enrollment season continues, employers are considering adding a new employee benefit that has grown in urgency since the hybrid workforce became a reality in the COVID-19 pandemic: identity theft protection. According to a survey from Willis Towers Watson, 78% of employers will offer ID theft protection as an employee benefit by 2022. Read more here.

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s 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. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.