Showing posts from June, 2013

How To Administer Benefits to Same-Sex and Cohabitating Partners

This week the Supreme Court struck down a key provision in the Defense of Marriage Act, essentially clearing the way for same-sex marriages in states where those are allowed.  For Group Benefits Administrators in plans that only cover spouses in traditional marriages this presents a complex set of problems. Consider for a moment that only  13 states recognize same-sex marriages while the rest do not.  Add to that some states, such as Illinois, that don't allow same-sex marriage but do recognize domestic partnerships.  If an employer covers employees in multiple states but still only covers "spouses" under the traditional definition the complexity and potential for legal challenge is huge. Now add to that the growing phenomenon, especially among younger workers, of cohabitating opposite-sex couples with or without children.  While it may be practical administratively to draw the line at the marriage license ("we cover married couples but not unmarried ones&qu

Are You Saving Enough to Retire?

I have written before on the subject of retirement savings estimates.  So many of the calculators put out by investment firms are scare tactics designed to help market their products.  Today via a New York Times article I came across the non-profit Employee Benefits Research Institute and their calculator .  I recommend it highly.  Similar instruments from investment houses tell me I have 19 - 20% of what I need for retirement already saved.  This calculator shows 47%, and this with 20 years left before my intended retirement date. I don't recommend this calculator because it is telling me something I want to hear: I am recommending it because the organization behind it is not trying to sell us anything.  That gives it great credibility in my eyes. Of course no calculator can take into account other non-investment events or strategies you can use to prepare.  Moving to a smaller house, moving to a smaller town with a less-expensive real estate market, inheritance from parents,

How to Legally Use Criminal Background Checks

This week the EEOC filed suit against Nashville's own Dollar General as well as BMW over the use of criminal background checks.  The comments I have read on-line about this move test the bounds of ignorance even for on-line comments.  What the EEOC wants employers to do is what departments I run have done for years.  It really isn't that complicated. The EEOC is concerned with an overreach and/or misapplication of background screens to the point that they exclude non-white minorities at a disproportionate rate. This is a valid concern, as non-whites are arrested and convicted at a higher frequency than whites.  The EEOC's complaints primarily center around using arrest records rather than convictions, going back too many years, and having a blanket policy that excludes criminal histories that have no bearing on the job sought by the applicant. In April the EEOC issued  guidance on how to legally apply background checks.  In case you don't want to wade through all th