While most employees work a typical 9-5 workday, an HR manager’s job tends to spill over into evenings and weekends. With so many responsibilities, it can be easy for HR professionals to get bogged down with transactional tasks like answering employees questions.
In part one of this three-part series, we talked about typical payroll questions your employees will ask you and how to proactively manage this part of your job. In part two, we’ve compiled the answers to 6 HR questions your employees will ask you and how you can answer them while still having a productive workday.
1. What is Open Enrollment and When am I Eligible to Enroll?
Questions about Open Enrollment are most common when HR managers onboard new employees, employees go full-time, there’s a change in family status, or a qualifying event occurs.
Open enrollment is a period when employees can enroll in or make changes to a health insurance plan each year. The open enrollment period for 2019 coverage runs from November 1, 2018, to December 15, 2018. Employees can also apply and enroll in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) any time of the year.
Employees are eligible to enroll outside of Open Enrollment if they meet one of the following criteria:
- An employee is hired outside of Open Enrollment. Each company has their own waiting period employees must reach to be eligible for health insurance.
- A qualifying event occurs like marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, loss or gain of coverage through a spouse, loss of eligibility of a covered dependent, or death of a covered spouse or child.
2. What’s the Difference Between my Deductible and Premium?
The premium is the amount an employee pays each month to carry health insurance and is determined by the insurance plan the employee chooses. In addition to a monthly premium payment, employees are also responsible for deductibles and copays. A deductible is the amount an employee will pay for health services before their insurance will cover health services.
3. How Will my Health Benefits Impact me During Tax Season?
Based on an employee’s health insurance plan, they will receive a healthcare tax form to file during tax season. An employee can receive one of the following forms:
- Form 1095-A - Health Insurance Marketplace Statement: Individuals who are enrolled in Marketplace coverage will receive a Form 1095-A from the Health Insurance Marketplace with information about the coverage, coverage participants and the timeframe in which they were covered.
- Form 1095-B - Health Coverage:Individuals receive this form from their health insurance provider with information about who was covered and the timeframe in which they were covered.
- Form 1095-C - Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage: Individuals receive this form from their employer if they are covered by the health insurance offered by their employer. This form includes information about what coverage the employer offered, coverage participants and the timeframe in which they were covered.
4. What is COBRA and When do I use it?
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is a law that provides the continuation of group health coverage. Employees who lose their health benefits due to unemployment can continue group health benefits for a limited time by their group health plan.
Check out our blog for a more detailed overview of COBRA that managers and supervisors can use as a guide for answering in-depth COBRA questions.
5. What’s the Difference Between an FSA and HSA?
Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are accounts that employees can contribute to tax-free to use for medical costs. FSAs and HSAs allow employees to set aside money for qualified expenses like deductibles, copayments, and prescription costs.
Knowing the differences between an FSA and HSA can be tricky so we’ve provided a basic overview of the differences between the two:
|Health Savings Account (HSA)||Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA)|
|Eligibility Requirements||An employee must have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP).||No eligibility requirements.|
|Contribution Limit||2018 contribution limit is $3,450 for individuals or $6,900 for families.||2018 contribution limit is $2,650.|
|Rollover||Unused balances roll over into the next year.||Unused balances do not roll over into the next year and you forfeit any unused balance.|
|Employer Connection||You can transfer your HSA to your new employer.||You’ll lose your FSA with a job change (unless you’re eligible for FSA contribution through COBRA.)|
|Effect on Taxes||Contributions are tax-deductible, but can also be taken out of your pay pre-tax. Growth and distributions are tax-free.||Contributions are pretax and distributions are untaxed.|
6. What’s the Difference Between FMLA and Short-Term Disability?
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. FMLA allows employees to take a medical leave of absence without fear of losing their job.
Employees are eligible to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave if they experience one of the following events:
- The birth and care of a newborn child.
- Placement of a child for adoption or foster care.
- To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition.
- To take medical leave due to a serious health condition.
Short-Term Disability insurance is used when an employee is unable to work due to an illness or accident and they can receive a portion of their paycheck during a leave of absence. An employee’s plan will determine what is considered disabled and can vary from company to company. Some plans decide an employee is eligible for short-term disability when they can no longer perform their job duties. While other plans consider an employee disabled when they can no longer complete their work based on their training and experience needed.
Can You Use Both At the Same Time?
An employee can use both FMLA and Short-Term Disability at the same time during a leave of medical absence. Since employees do not get paid with FMLA, they can receive some income during their leave with Short-Term Disability insurance.
Proactively Manage HR Questions From Employees
A great way to manage employees questions is by implementing a self-service platform. Self-service tools give HR managers the ability to effectively communicate critical information to employees and empowers employees to take action the following ways:
- HR managers can store and upload benefits documents electronically so employees can find answers to many of their questions. This frees up your time to spend on other important tasks.
- HR managers can schedule notification emails and add messages to the company newsfeed to proactively communicate with your employees for a more streamlined open enrollment process. This allows you to focus on answering more in-depth plan questions.
- Employees can conduct open enrollment, add or remove dependents, and update their contact information all in the same platform. This gives you the ability the delegate tasks to your employees while maintaining the control to give final approval on any changes made.
As an HR manager, you are asked a variety of questions every day. But this important part of your job doesn’t have to take up the majority of your time. By providing your departmental managers and employees with a frequently asked questions document, you can be more proactive about company communication. Optimize this process even further by using a self-service platform to communicate and distribute important information, so you have more time to focus on other strategic tasks.