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Benefits

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Get Fit . . .
Or Pay The Price
Some companies have turned to coercive or mandatory wellness programs to push employees toward better health. And some employee groups have pushed back. Experts suggest employers and HR leaders be careful to design programs that reward healthy behaviors rather than punish unhealthy ones.
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Is Brain Health the Next Big Thing?
Employers are just now starting to take notice of the merits of programs aimed at reducing employee stress -- and the costs associated with stress -- by training the brain to have a positive outlook.
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The Lowdown on FSA Spending Limits
New caps on employee contributions to flexible-spending accounts should affect certain employees more than others, experts say.
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A New Benefits Trend
Society's growing awareness and acceptance of transgendered people -- along with employee affinity groups petitioning their companies to offer them health benefits -- is helping to drive a new trend in benefits offerings.
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Balancing Benefits Communication
Recent research shows a majority of companies struggle with communicating benefits information to employees on a year-round basis. Experts urge HR leaders to incorporate the technology and tools at their disposal to make communication strategies more successful, and to document their efforts to ensure consistency.
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COLAs Vanishing from Pension Plans
Cost-of-living allowances, or COLAs, while never a prevalent feature of private-sector pension plans, have declined sharply since the 1990s, according to new research.
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Another Argument for Prepaid Legal Plans
I just finished reading the Special Report: Benefits (June 2). I note that there is a suggestion (in "Filling in the Gaps") that employees do not need prepaid legal plans because they only use lawyers a couple of times in their lives.
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Playing Games at Work
I love to play games -- something that started as a kid and continues to surprise my mom. She thought I outgrew this fascination.
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Numbers Don't Bode Well for Blue-Collar Health
With a new report showing blue-collar workers are more prone to illness than other groups, experts say HR's challenge is to understand the unique aspects of their own workforces' well-being as well as the unique things they're going to have to do as an employer to address its workers' needs.
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Legal Insurance Does, Indeed, Make Sense
A quick response to Mary Kesel's comments (in "Filling in the Gaps," June 2) about prepaid legal plans: ". . . people only need a lawyer a couple of times during their lives, so buying legal insurance is not a good use of hard-earned dollars."
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On Target
With healthcare costs only going up, employers are getting aggressive about motivating unhealthy and chronically ill workers to get healthy.
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Confusion Reigns Over ACA Implementation
With the 2014 deadline approaching for implementing major provisions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, many employees covered through their employers are already receiving letters informing them of the ACA's "Medical Loss Ratio" requirement.
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Benefits from Beyond the Grave
As reported by Forbes, spouses or domestic partners of U.S.-based Google employees who die while under the employ of the company will receive a check for 50 percent of the deceased employee's salary for 10 years. The surviving spouse or partner also acquires vested stock benefits, and their children receive $1,000 a month until the age of 19.
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The Dwindling Disability Trust
With the government's disability insurance fund headed for exhaustion, is it time to "go Dutch" between employers and the federal government?
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Global Nomads' Retirement Puzzle
Some call them "global nomads." Others say they belong to an "international cadre." Either way, they are expatriate employees who spend a decent chunk of time (three to five years or longer) on multiple international assignments, typically moving from country to country in the process.
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The DOL's Move to Increase ERISA Audits
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act is probably not high on HR practitioners' things to ponder list, but a new push by the Department of Labor should change that.
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Benefits Column

In light of the recent Ebola scare, employers might be well-served to revisit their policies and procedures -- and prepare in advance for the next potential epidemic.
Working with Wearables Sep 22, 2014
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