Compensation Management

Foundation Publication Search Results

These summaries were compiled from Foundation Publications Search, a database of articles, research reports and books published by the International Foundation and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists.


The Implications of the Rapidly Rising Cost of Employer-Provided Health Insurance for Earnings Inequality.
Warshawsky, Mark J.; Benefits Quarterly; v33 no3 pp 52-62 3rd Qtr 2017; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : Health insurance for a high-paid employee costs an employer the same amount as health insurance for a low-paid employee. At the same time, health care costs and, therefore, health insurance premiums are growing much more rapidly than earnings. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that--while earnings will indeed become more unequal over time--total compensation will not become more unequal or, when considered over the entire labor force, at least will not become as unequal. Direct empirical evidence supports this hypothesis, based on unique, unpublished survey data about employer compensation costs collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The supporting results hold both for the period 1996 to 2008 and for the period 1992 to 2010. A regression estimated over the period 1990 to 2014 also bolsters the understanding that the rising cost of health care is a major cause of increasing earnings inequality. This finding suggests that the best policy is to reduce inequality would be to effectively control the rate of growth in the cost of health care.
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Other Recent Decisions.
Benefits Magazine; v54 no5 pp 59-61 May 2017; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : Summarizes cases on bankruptcy, disability benefits, fraud, subrogation and retirement benefits.
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Plan Administrator Must Comply With Terms of Top-Hat Plan.
Benefits Magazine; v54 no4 p 55 Apr 2017; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : The U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire finds that the defendant administrator of a top-hat plan arbitrarily and capriciously interpreted the terms of the plan with respect to the timing and distribution of benefits to the plaintiff former employee and remands the case for further proceedings.
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Time Is Money for Women and Their Retirement Planning.
Wilke, Melinda; Benefits Magazine; v54 no2 pp 26-30 Feb 2017; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : Women tend to live longer than men, although they may not earn as much and may stop working earlier. Certain life factors and a variety of other considerations are reasons women need to save and plan for retirement differently than men.
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Strategies for Boosting Workers' Financial Health.
Bonner, Patricia A.; Plans & Trusts; v35 no1 pp 20-25 Jan-Feb 2017; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : Although providing financial education and information are key strategies to improving the financial well-being of workers, they are not the only ways employers and plan administrators can promote financial wellness in the workplace. Excerpted from an International Foundation report.
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Top-Hat Plan May Grant Discretion.
Benefits Quarterly; v32 no4 p 69 4th Qtr 2016; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : Plan participant did not show that severance benefit plan administrator abused its discretion in denying him benefits under the plan. The court held that the distinction between "top-hat" plans and other plans was irrelevant because, even under basic contract law, a plan can provide discretion regarding benefits eligibility determinations.
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Severance Benefits Properly Denied to Executives Involved in Bid-Rigging Scheme.
Benefits Magazine; v53 no10 p 56 Oct 2016; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirms a district court decision that the defendant insurance broker company properly fired the plaintiff executives for cause and properly denied unvested deferred compensation and severance benefits.
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Top 5 Errors Found in 401(k) Plan Audits.
Bowman, Rachael; Roster, Jessica R.; Benefits Magazine; v53 no9 pp 34-39 Sep 2016; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : To avoid penalties, lost earnings for plan participants and extra expenses for TPA staff time, fiduciaries of 401(k) plans should take preventive steps to avoid five common errors.
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Other Recent Decisions.
Benefits Magazine; v53 no8 pp 63-65 Aug 2016; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : Summarizes cases on beneficiary designation, preemption, benefit denials and contributions.
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Using Employee Benefits to Stay Competitive in China and India.
Kannan, Bharat; Benefits Quarterly; v32 no3 pp 32-36 3rd Qtr 2016; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : It appears a talent war is here to stay among employers in Asia. Employers that stay ahead of the trends and make best use of new insights will be better equipped to attract talent, increase loyalty and boost productivity. MetLife research shows there is a huge opportunity in China and India for employers that adopt practices such as offering total rewards packages that include a well-rounded employment deal that factors in flexible working conditions, wellness and career advancement opportunities. This article reviews these research findings and argues that taking the right steps to innovate on employee benefit programs will not only help companies stand apart from the competition but also help foster an engaged and committed workforce.
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Wage Loss Replacement Plan Payments Were Insurable Earnings.
Heath-Rawlings, Jesse; Plans & Trusts; v34 no4 pp 27-28 Jul-Aug 2016; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : In Ilijoic v. Minister of National Revenue, the Tax Court of Canada considered whether payments received by the employee during the 2013 taxation year under a wage loss replacement plan were insurable earnings under the Employment Insurance Act.
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Inergi : Offer of Voluntary Surplus Packages to Working Employees Is Not Discriminatory.
Sims, Brianna; Plans & Trusts; v34 no3 pp 34-35 May-Jun 2016; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : A 2015 arbitration decision found that an employer that offers voluntary surplus packages (VSPs) may distinguish between employees who are "active" and employees who are not, without running afoul of human rights protections, so long as the purpose of the VSP is implied from the relevant collective agreement.
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A Generation With Income to Protect.
Friedrich, Amy C.; Benefits Quarterly; v32 no2 pp 14-17 2nd Qtr 2016; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : From an employee benefits perspective, generational differences undoubtedly play a big role in not only how to communicate with employees about their benefits but what benefits to offer. Yet while there's been a lot of talk about how to reach other generations, information about connecting with Generation X is harder to come by. This article discusses the state of Generation X's unique income protection and financial concerns. The author shows how offering income protection to Generation Xers not only helps them deal with today's expenses and prepare for the future but can also help employers meet business objectives such as attracting and retaining top talent.
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Retirement Security: Why Employers and Plan Administrators Should Care.
Bonner, Patricia; Plans & Trusts; v34 no2 pp 14-19 Mar-Apr 2016; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : Whether middle-income Canadians are saving adequately for retirement is hotly debated. Regardless of their stance on the issue, plan sponsors and administrators can assume some workers are at risk and play a role in helping them get on track toward a secure retirement. Part one of a four part series.
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Fine-Tuning the Impact of "Play or Pay" Strategies: Evaluating Compensation Adjustments.
Dinkin, Elliot N.; Benefits Quarterly; v31 no4 pp 13-21 4th Qtr 2015; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : Employers have the option under the Affordable Care Act to pay a penalty for dropping health insurance coverage, often bumping up employee compensation in exchange. Determining that additional compensation is a complex and ongoing process that must consider human resources and business strategies, ways to handle the pay supplement, annual review and unanticipated consequences. To identify the compensation amount that would make the worker whole, employers could aim for a certain metal plan and benefit level, targeting a particular geographic region and age level, factoring in marital status and possibly including a tax subsidy or tax gross-up. Regulatory requirements and future increases must also be considered. Includes multiple cost illustrations for hypothetical employees.
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Other Recent Decisions.
Benefits Magazine; v52 no10 pp 66-68 Oct 2015; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : In the case of Forte v. BNP Paribas et al. the plaintiff asserted he was deprived of promised benefits and was constructively discharged after the defendant employer materially altered the terms of its initial job offer and compensation package. The District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled the bonus plan was discretionary and not protected under ERISA as an employee pension benefit plan. In McCulloch Orthopedic Surgical Services v. United Healthcare Insurance Company of New York the same district court ruled that federal court was the correct venue for the plaintiff's claim for reimbursement of benefits against the defendant plan administrator. When the plaintiff asserted he was underpaid for services, the defendant had the case moved to federal court as preempted by ERISA, and the court confirmed it had jurisdiction. In Brown et al. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, Inc. the plaintiff medical practice submitted bills for patients and was paid directly by the defendant. The defendant sought to recoup overpayments when an audit revealed improper billing. The District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee ruled patients did not assign rights to the plaintiff by signing billing forms and did not clearly transfer their rights to pursue ERISA claims, leaving the plaintiff no standing. In Reynolds v. Merrill Lynch Basic Long Term Disability Plan et al. the District Court for Hawaii found the plaintiff's case exceeded Hawaii's six-year statute of limitations in his claim that the defendants did not provide requested plan documents. The plaintiff alleged he did not receive all documents requested in 2004 but did not file suit until 2014. In Carter et al. v. General Motors Hourly-Rate Plan et al. the Southern District of Indiana ruled the plaintiff former employees must end their employment with their current employer, a spinoff from a predecessor company, before becoming eligible for retirement benefits. A memorandum of understanding between the original employer, union and acquiring company provided for a new pension plan with identical benefits as with the original employer. The plaintiffs asserted they terminated employment with the original employer and were entitled to their pension, but the court ruled the memorandum effectively amended the original plan, with the new company qualifying as a successor company. The employees would have to end employment with the successor and retire to get pension benefits.
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Restructuring Employee Benefits to Meet Health Care Needs in Retirement.
Ward, Richard M.; Weinman, Robert B.; Benefits Quarterly; v31 no4 pp 22-28 4th Qtr 2015; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : Failing to offer retiree health benefits can be a competitive disadvantage to a company, but the cost of traditional defined health benefits may be unsustainable. With accounting changes and the Affordable Care Act, retirees face a larger share of health care costs. Some organizations set up health reimbursement arrangements for retirees to purchase their own health coverage but still bear long-term accounting liability. It is appropriate for employers to reevaluate total compensation, particularly retiree pension and health plans, and to consider shifting retiree defined health benefits to premium subsidies. With a defined contribution approach, employers save money, have more control over health care dollars, eliminate accounting liabilities and gain triple tax advantages. They may even consider shifting some employer contributions to 401(k) plans to tax-free retiree health accounts. Includes a case study of TIAA-CREF's shift to account-based health plans and subsidized access to a private health insurance exchange for retirees.
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Disability Insurer's Recoupment of Overpaid Benefits Limited to Traceable Funds.
Benefits Magazine; v52 no8 pp 63-64 Aug 2015; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : A former company president and executive participated in the group long-term disability plan, resigned in 2013, was granted disability for back problems and took an advisory role with the company. In 2012 he earned $320,000 plus profit sharing and consulting income. Under plan terms, disability payments ceased if a participant earned over 80 percent of indexed total monthly earnings. The plan determined the individual's combined income exceeded the limit and retroactively stopped disability payments to the start of 2012. After losing appeals, the individual filed suit as Fine v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, with the defendant filing a counterclaim. The plaintiff asserted the generous bonus payment should not be included along with other objections to the definition and calculation of income, while the defendant claimed the bonus was for work performed as advisor. The court supported the defendant's interpretation recognizing overpayment but, since the plaintiff's funds were comingled or spent, the available overpayment was limited to $9,900.
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Dust Off the Historical Approach to Total Compensation.
Dinkin, Elliot N.; Benefits Quarterly; pp 43-50 1st Qtr 2015; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : The Affordable Care Act's (ACA) health care requirements present an opportunity to rethink pay and benefits from a total compensation perspective. A fresh look can lead to a revised framework that delivers cost containment and flexibility with little extra administrative burden and a competitive edge. With a total compensation approach, pay and benefits can be flexible, enabling individuals to make tradeoffs to suit their needs. Moving to a total compensation approach should start with benchmarking the market, considering ACA mandates and financial impacts and looking at benefits related to retirement, leave, voluntary insurance and other options. A health benefits review should reveal strategies for different lines of business, locations and employee groups and expose baseline possibilities. From this data, potential offerings and package choices can be identified with different balances of pay and selected benefits.
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Court Confirms Forfeited Accounts Under Deferred Compensation Plan Violated ERISA.
Benefits Magazine; v51 no11 pp 61, 67 Nov 2014; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : The plaintiffs in Tolbert et al. v. RBC Capital Markets Corporation et al. were past employees who were terminated before their benefits in an employer-sponsored wealth accumulation plan were vested, resulting in the loss of employer contributions and benefits. The plaintiffs argued the plan was an ERISA-governed pension plan, while the defendants contended it was an unfunded and unqualified top-hat plan. The district court ruled the plan did not aim to provide retirement income and was not an ERISA plan. The Fifth Circuit Appeals Court found the plan met one of two sections of ERISA's definition of a pension plan, that it resulted in employee income deferral for the time up to or beyond termination of covered employment. This language and prior case interpretations led to the conclusion that the pension plan was governed by ERISA under Section 3(2)(A)(ii), regardless of whether or not deferring compensation was an option.
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Judgment Under Duty-to-Inform Provision of Securities Exchange Act Affirmed.
Benefits Magazine; v51 no10 p 60 Oct 2014; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Finnerty v. Stiefel Laboratories, Inc. et al. that the defendant company was obligated to disclose important merger plans to the plaintiff and others, since the knowledge would affect the shareholders' actions. After being let go in a 2008 reduction of force, the plaintiff received a distribution of company stock from the employee stock bonus plan in 2009 and exercised his put option for the employer to buy back his stock. Unknown to the plaintiff, a merger was in the works, culminating in 2009 with the company stock valued at over four times what the plaintiff received per share. The plaintiff sued, alleging the defendant withheld material information about merger negotiations, violating the Securities and Exchange Act Section 10(b). A jury found for the plaintiff, awarding him $1.5 million. The Appeals Court upheld the decision, ruling the defendant was required to disclose consideration of the company sale before repurchasing the plaintiff's company stock.
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2014 Global Top Five Total Rewards Priorities Survey.
Mrkvicka, Neil; NewsBriefs; v32 pp 10-11 3rd Qtr 2014; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : Deloitte, the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists and the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans sponsored the second global survey of total rewards priorities. Covering employers in 22 countries, the 2014 poll revealed the top concerns to be using total rewards to attract, motivate and retain employees, the costs of benefits, maintaining motivation on a limited budget, demonstrating return on investment for compensation outlays and forming a total compensation program that fits an organization's culture and goals. The cost of total rewards was a major concern, especially for employers in the Americas. Only half of the companies are satisfied with their total rewards strategy. Most employers have taken or plan to take action to boost health and wellness and to improve employee communications, especially on the value of total rewards. Compensation design changes focus on variable pay and pay for performance.
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Other Recent Decisions.
Benefits Magazine; v51 no8 pp 65-67 Aug 2014; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : In Smith v. Delta Air Lines Inc. the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's dismissal of the suit, supporting the plan fiduciaries' presumption of prudence in retaining company stock in an employee stock ownership (ESOP) plan despite a 92 percent drop in value. The ESOP required offering the company stock as an option and matching contributions in company stock, and there was no indication of plan mismanagement. In Gates v. UnitedHealth Group Inc. et al. the Second Circuit reversed and vacated the lower court's finding that the plaintiff lacked standing to claim an improper benefit calculation. The appeals court found problems with the defendant's method of calculating benefits in coordination with Medicare and took issue with the court's casting the plan's entire summary plan description as ambiguous. In Medicomp, Inc. v. United Healthcare Insurance Company the Eleventh Circuit upheld the lower court's ruling that the plaintiff did not have standing to sue the defendant. The plaintiff, a health care service provider delivering services to plan members, sued a group of insurers for failing to pay for the services delivered. The courts noted the plaintiff had neither independent standing to sue nor derivative standing through written assignment of benefits from plan beneficiaries. In Severstal Wheeling, Inc. v. WPN Corp. et al. the district court for the Southern District of New York confirmed that by providing investment advice for a fee, the defendant investment management company and officer were fiduciaries of the plaintiff's retirement and pension plans. The defendant transferred some plan assets to a trust that performed poorly, a potential violation of fiduciary duty, but arranged for unrestricted management authority retroactive to days before the move, circumventing the breach. The court ruled the defendants were fiduciaries but did not find the investment management resulted in expanded fiduciary duty under ERISA Section 3(38). In Smith v. The NECA-IBEW Pension Benefit Trust Fund the district court for the Western District of Kentucky found the plaintiff was not due severance benefits that would have accrued from the time he took a job within the electrical construction industry, prohibited employment according to the pension plan provisions.
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Finding, Motivating and Retaining Talent a Global Priority.
Mrkvicka, Neil; Benefits Magazine; v51 no7 pp 8-9 Jul 2014; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : A second annual survey on total rewards gathered opinions from employers in 22 countries. Administered by Deloitte, the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists and the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, the survey identified attracting, motivating and retaining talent to be respondents' top priority and challenge. Other top priorities were benefit costs, motivating staff with limited budgets, showing return on investment in reward spending and developing a culturally appropriate reward program. Compared with other countries, benefit costs and delivering health and wellness benefits were stressed more by countries in the Americas. Survey responses showed growing interest in variable and performance-based pay, tied to expanded employee communication and education emphasizing the value of various benefits.
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Obama's "Year of Action" and What It Means for Employers.
Coburn, Brett E.; Fox, Kristen W.; Benefits Magazine; v51 no7 3 pp Jul 2014; journal article

Availability : International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
Abstract : In the first half of 2014, the president issued several employment-related executive orders and memoranda, and more may follow. The minimum wage was raised for workers under new federal contracts. White-collar exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act were changed. A proposed rule would require federal contractors and subcontractors to submit summary compensation data to the Department of Labor. An executive order banned federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation with one another.
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