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Mark Brault

Compliance Advisor/Benefits Attorney at HNI

Recent Posts by Mark Brault:

New Tax Law Eliminates Tax Breaks for Several Fringe Benefits

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the new tax law signed into effect by President Trump in late December) impacts several employer/employee fringe benefits. Some of the law's most significant changes include:
  • eliminating tax breaks
  • creating a new tax credit for employers offering paid family and medical leave
  • repealing the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

That being said, the impact on the fringe benefit programs is less drastic that what was contained in earlier drafts of proposed tax bills that were being considered.

Topics: HR / Employee Benefits

Extended Medical Leave is No Longer a Required Reasonable Accommodation After Expiration of FMLA

Last month our very own Seventh Circuit struck down the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) long standing position that medical leave is a reasonable accommodation when the leave is (1) of a definite, time-limited duration; (2) requested in advance; and (3) likely to enable the employee to perform the essential job functions upon return. The Seventh Circuit found the EEOC’s position unpersuasive and stated that certain medical leave improperly transforms the American’s With Disabilities Act (ADA) into "an open-ended extension” of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Topics: HR / Employee Benefits

How to Handle a Sexual Harassment Complaint

We all know that Harvey Weinstein has a myriad of personal legal problems.  But it is also pretty clear by now that his former company is looking at potential legal trouble for ignoring, overlooking and/or sweeping his terrible acts of sexual misconduct under the rug.  These unfortunate incidents are a reminder to employers to review, update (if necessary) and reiterate harassment policies with employees and provide appropriate training for supervisors and managers.  Harassment and discrimination policies should be in place (ideally in an employee handbook) which specifically provides that:

  • Any employee who experiences, witnesses, or learns of harassing conduct should report the conduct.
  • All such complaints of harassment will be investigated promptly and thoroughly.
Topics: HR / Employee Benefits

IRS Starts Mailing 'Pay or Play' Penalty Letters

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that it will begin mailing employers letters informing them of their potential liability for a "pay or play" penalty for the 2015 calendar year in late 2017. However, before any penalty is assessed and notice and demand for payment is made, employers will have an opportunity to respond to the agency.

Topics: HR / Employee Benefits

2018 ACA Affordability Rates & Employer Mandate Penalty Amounts

Given the repeated failures to repeal or even improve upon the major shortcomings of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers should consider things status quo with respect to the ACA in 2018. 

Topics: HR / Employee Benefits

New I-9 Form Must Be Used

Employers have enough to worry about when hiring and onboarding new employees, but starting September 18, 2017 a new requirement is on the horizon. For any new hire, employers must complete a revised Form I-9, which is intended to document verification of the identity and employment authorization. 

Topics: HR / Employee Benefits

Is the Individual Mandate Penalty Still Alive?

In early 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had informally decided not to enforce the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual mandate tax penalty for those individuals who declined to carry any required individual health insurance during the calendar year. 

That was the result of President Trump’s January 20, 2017 Executive Order that protected uncovered individuals from the tax imposed under Internal Revenue Code Section 5001A (the individual mandate tax).  However, there are several recent indications that the IRS still plans to enforce and collect the tax. 

Topics: HR / Employee Benefits

PCORI Fee Reminder: July 31 Deadline

Here is your annual reminder about the fee due under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) known as the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fee. Effective for plan years ending on or after October 1, 2012, and before October 1, 2019, employers that sponsor certain self-insured health plans are responsible for PCORI fees. Fees for plan years that ended in 2016 are due July 31, 2017. Given there has been no replacement health care plan formally adopted as of this time, the PCORI fee must still be paid.