Go to the United States Department of Labor website to read “Continuation of Health Coverage – COBRA.” This website communicates the current regulations and federal involvement in employee benefits. Navigate the website to become familiar with its contents. Write a five- to seven-page paper in which you:
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Describe the major features of this Website and how each feature can be used to monitor employee benefits.
The Department of Labor (“DOL”) website is exceedingly informative, for both agency employees as well as employees of organizations, and employers within the United States as it sets the laws and regulations that must be followed as it relates to labor. Not identical to those at the Department of Labor, but as guideline. The Department of Labor website details a host of explanatory features in addition to services pertaining to labor laws such as employment, minimum wage rates, overtime pay, discriminatory practices, health benefits, mental health benefits, continuation of health benefits, assistance with compliance laws, rights of workers’, consumer information pertaining to health planes, participate rights, plan information, working conditions, questions and answers, as well as navigation links. The objective of the website is to provide any and all information as it relates to labor and labor relations (DOL, 2016).
The website is an excellent technique to monitor employee benefit by having all the guidelines and resources to educated employees on their rights when it comes to labor laws, and enlighten them of the responsibilities of their employers. For example, if an employee feels they are entitled to a specific benefit and their employees says otherwise, the Department of Labor’s website would be a point of reference to verify the information.
In addition, the website allows for easy navigation, and provide compliance, legal information, in addition to many specific benefit programs, related articles, and contact information if there is a need to speak directly with a representative regarding special situations and immediate concerns (DOL, 2016).
Explain how employers could verify that their employee benefits comply with all federal laws by using this resource.
Organizations and government entities rely on the Department of Labor to verify employee benefits as an effort to comply and remain compliant with federal labor laws. This is accomplished by utilizing the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974. Which is the Act that set the minimum standards that established pension and health plans in the private industry. It provided a protection for individuals in ERISA plans, of which is a requirement of the plans to provide participants with plan information. The information regarding plan features and funding, to include “fiduciary responsibilities for those who manage and control plan assets; requires plans to establish a grievance and appeals process for participants to get benefits from their plans; and gives participants the right to sue for benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty” (DOL, 2016). Plan fiduciaries are required to exercise their fiduciary duties according to specified standards. Generally, “a person is a fiduciary with respect to a plan to the extent that the person does any one of the following: (1) exercises any discretionary authority or control over the management of the plan or the management or disposition of its assets; (2) renders investment advice for compensation; or (3) has any discretionary authority or responsibility in administration of the plan” (Worldatwork, 2007).
As with most federal laws, ERISA has added consistent amendments, in an effort to expand protection in the area of health benefit plan participants and beneficiaries. With the foremost amendment being to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). This particular amendment is significant as it is in place to ensure that “some workers as well as their families with rights to continue healthcare coverage for an additional, yet limited amount of time after the loss of a job” (DOL, 2016). In additional to the amendment of ERISA’s Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which also provides important new protections for employees as well as their families who have pre-existing medical conditions or might otherwise be met with discriminating healthcare coverage due to the related individual’s health (DOL, 2016). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the definition of a preexisting health condition is a medical condition an individual had prior to applying for a new health insurance policy. This condition can be anything from something slight such as a sleeping disorder, or as serious as a major disability, such as congestive heart failure. Moreover, a preexisting medical problems can lead to job/ healthcare coverage discrimination (DOL, 2016).
ERISA provisions are enforced by the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), which was enacted to assure the security of the retirement, health and other workplace related benefits of employees and their families, by developing effective regulations, assist and educate employees, plan sponsors, fiduciaries and service providers, and enforcing the law. The goals of EBSA is to provide assistance to plan participants and beneficiaries, plan sponsors, service providers and other interested parties in raising the level of knowledge and to ensure access to available plan documents filed with the Department of Labor (EBSA, 2016). Hence, those participating in the plans will have a better understanding and exercise their rights under the law and recover any benefits they may be entitled. While also allowing the opportunity to plan administrators and practitioners to better understand and remain compliant with the law (EBSA, 2016).
Explain how employees would use this information to ensure their benefits rights are protected.
By utilizing the immense amount of information found on the Department of Labor’s website, it is the key to employees’ protection of their rights because the knowledge is provided on the easily navigated website. The objective of the website is to ensure that employers remain in compliance with all federal regulations. Therefore, in case of infringement, there is a number of supporting bodies and information provided on the website to redress in cases of rights violations by employers.
Given that pre-existing conditions discrimination can be a problem and that employees can become a victim of such, information on the website provides instructions on the procedures for handling such matter, thus ensuring coverage availability for all. Whilst also providing detail information pertaining to employees’ rights and obligations, as such, the website provides employees an understanding that ensures them with the knowledge that their benefits and rights remain protected.
Create an outline of the Website so that you could orient others to its usefulness for regulatory compliance.
Remaining abreast of the ongoing changes in laws and regulations that govern employee’s rights and benefits can be extremely challenging as it tends to be a fluid process. The world around us changes so rapidly, not to mention it has become smaller, and more diverse; thus the laws has to change with it and reflect this new world we live it. Consequently, in an effort to lower the risk of liability of non-compliance, reliable information and support can be located on the Department of Labor’s website. Navigating and utilizing the website and all of the relevant links, employers can use the information found within the website to mitigate risks and resolve immediate non-compliance concerns and issues (HCBR, 2016).
The Department of Labor’s homepage delivers continuous monitored an updated information pertaining to laws, rules, regulations, guidance, and compliances in various written and media formats. Including but not limited to Obama-Care, COBRA, ERISA, and HIPAA,
Also assessable from the homepage you will find tabs and direct links providing information on compliance information available under different labels with titles that also provides direct links to desired information. The “browse by” feature is one of the more resourceful links to access compliance information. When utilized it will navigate directly to compliance assistance, employee laws, regulations, health plans and benefits pages. In addition, there are various links on the website that can provide valuable information essential in providing an overall understanding of the rights, laws, legislation, and other related issues from which compliance standards can be drawn. On a final note, services through compliance materials consist of training, benefits advice, Acts, regulations and guidance, coverage options, wellness programs, and a comprehensive summary of important issues, which collectively provide tools that are helpful as well as effective in providing regulatory compliance information.
Department of Labor (2016). Health Plans & Benefits: ERISA. Retrieved May 27, 2016, from
Department of Labor (2016). About the Employee Benefits Security Administration. Retrieved
May 27, 2016, from https://www.dol.gov/ebsa/aboutebsa/main.html
HCBR (2016). Home: Benefits Administration. Retrieved May 27, 2016, from http://www.hcbr group.com/benefit-administration/
Obama Care Facts (2016). Obama Care Pre-existing Conditions. Retrieved May 27, 2016, from http://obamacarefacts.com/pre-existing-conditions/
World at Work (2007). The WorldatWork handbook of compensation, benefits, & total rewards.
Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.
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