Publications: Employee Benefits


  • New IRS and Social Security Administration Dollar Limits

    October 30, 2017

    The IRS has released adjusted dollar limits for employer-sponsored retirement and welfare plans, as well as for individual retirement vehicles effective as of January 1, 2018. Most of these limits have been increased for the coming calendar year. In addition, the Social Security Administration increased the taxable earnings wage base from $127,200 in 2017 to $128,700 for 2018. Plan sponsors should update their payroll and plan administration systems to take into account the new limits. In addition, sponsors of safe harbor 401(k) plans can now prepare and send their 2018 annual safe harbor notices showing the contribution limits for the coming year. Retirement...



  • It’s Time for Tax-Exempt Entities to Restate Their 403(b) Plans

    August 25, 2017

    Under a new IRS program, tax-exempt entities who sponsor 403(b) retirement plans can adopt pre-approved documents that include determination letters that confirm the tax-qualified status of their plans. Plan sponsors need to adopt pre-approved plans before March 31, 2020, in order to qualify for the program. Under a 403(b) plan, eligible employees can elect to make pre-tax contributions towards the cost of their own retirement benefits. The accumulated savings is most often used to purchase an annuity when the participant retires. Until now, a plan sponsor could not receive a determination from the IRS that its 403(b) plan satisfied all...



  • Annuitant, Be Aware! Reemployment May Cause a Suspension of Benefits

    August 24, 2017

    Former employees who are currently collecting benefits under the Wisconsin ETF should carefully consider the potential effect of resuming work for a WRS employer on their benefit payments. The reemployment rules can be confusing, and take into account the dates of the annuitant’s prior WRS employment. Annuitants who previously terminated their WRS employment before July 2, 2013. These annuitants have the choice of continuing ETF benefits during their re-employment or suspending payments and resuming credits (if eligible) under the WRS during their new employment. Rehired annuitants make this election through their new employer. An annuitant who elects to continue ETF payments...



  • It’s Time for Tax-Exempt Entities to Restate Their 403(b) Plans

    July 14, 2017

    Under a new program, tax-exempt entities who sponsor retirement plans under Section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) can receive confirmation that their plan documents comply with all IRS requirements. In order to receive the protection of an IRS determination letter, a plan sponsor needs to adopt a pre-approved plan document before March 31, 2020. Background Under a 403(b) plan, eligible employees of 501(c)(3) entities and public school systems can elect to make contributions towards their own retirement benefits. (Cooperative hospital service organizations, as well as ministers, may also be eligible to establish 403(b) programs.)The benefit paid under a...



  • New Law Allows Small Employers to Establish HRA's for Their Employees

    February 16, 2017

    Under a new law signed by President Obama on December 13, 2016, qualified small employers may now contribute to health reimbursement accounts (HRA's) to help employees with eligible medical expenses, including health insurance premiums. This change provides small employers who do not offer group health plans with a new option for assisting their employees with the cost of health care. Background The 21st Century Cures Act signed last year overrides the prior IRS and DOL interpretations and creates a new category of HRA. Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Accounts (QSEHRA) may be established by applicable small employers who are not otherwise...



  • Temporary Workers and the FMLA: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

    October 25, 2016

    Temporary Workers and the FMLA As most employers know, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Employers covered under the FMLA include public agencies, state, local and federal employers, and private sector employers who employ 50 or more employees for at least 20 workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year. Further, to be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have...



  • Federal District Court in Texas Issues Preliminary Injunction Halting Federal Government’s Enforcement of Transgender Discrimination Guidance

    August 25, 2016

    A new development has arisen in the current evolution of transgender discrimination law applicable to school districts and other entities receiving federal money throughout the country. The latest turn involves a Texas federal district judge’s decision to issue a preliminary injunction against the federal government’s enforcement of its May 20, 2016 guidance interpreting sex discrimination as including transgender discrimination. The lawsuit initiated by the State of Texas (Wisconsin and 12 (twelve) other states joined) is directed at the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice and is based on the May 20, 2016 transgender guidance. The Texas judge’s preliminary...



  • U.S. Supreme Court Offers Temporary Ruling on Transgender Discrimination Against Students

    August 8, 2016

    Transgender considerations continue to evolve, particularly relative to the impact on the nation’s school districts, colleges and universities. As noted in our May 20, 2016 Legal Alert, the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Education issued joint guidance in an effort to unify the nation’s approach. More recently, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a transgender student from Virginia should be allowed to use a boy’s restroom. The Appeals Court held that the School District violated Title IX of the education law, which bans discrimination on the basis of gender. This case was significant because it held...



  • New OSHA Rules May Restrict Post-Accident Drug Testing and Safety Incentive Programs

    July 8, 2016

    On May 12, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) published new rules relating to record-keeping, injury reporting, post-accident drug testing, safety incentive programs, and retaliation against employees for reporting an accident or injury. This article focuses on the last four items that become effective on August 1, 2016. All employers, regardless of size, should revisit their injury reporting, drug testing and safety incentive programs immediately to address these new rules. Some commentators have opined that these rules are the death knell of mandatory post-accident testing. Time will tell if that is so, but it is clear that long-standing employer...



  • EEOC Releases Final ADA Wellness Program Rules and Sample Notice

    June 30, 2016

    Workplace wellness programs have been a complex and controversial topic in recent years with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawsuits, proposed rules, and now final rules. On May 17, 2016, the EEOC issued a final rule (the “Rule”) to amend the regulations and guidance implementing Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as they relate to employer wellness programs. EEOC Final Rule Requires Wellness Plans to be “Voluntary” Wellness programs commonly gather health information through voluntary health risk assessments or biometric screenings that include medical examinations. In order to comply with the ADA, according to the Rule, any workplace...



  • Continuing “Education” - Developing Law and Guidance on Transgender Discrimination Against Students and Employees

    May 20, 2016

    The legal rights of individuals who identify as “transgender” and “gender nonconforming” are at the forefront of our national attention. As this area of the law continues to develop, it is critical that school districts and employers review policies and procedures to understand the various compliance issues based upon the current guidance from the federal government agencies and courts. On Friday, May 13, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Education issued joint guidance in a Dear Colleague Letter directed to school districts, colleges and universities receiving federal money, which they declared as “significant guidance.” The Letter states that...



  • New overtime rules announced. Millions of employees impacted. Are you ready?

    May 18, 2016

    Breaking News: Federal Judge Blocks DOL Overtime Rules (November 23, 2016) Original May 2016 article: On Tuesday, May 17, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced new rules on overtime pay, fulfilling President Obama’s 2014 promise to raise the salary level at which employers are required to pay overtime. These changes will have wide impact for virtually all profit and non-profit organizations, and the DOL estimates that almost 4.2 million U.S. workers who are currently exempt will now be eligible for overtime compensation under the new salary level requirements. The rules provide that employers must implement these changes by DECEMBER 1, 2016. It...



  • ACA Forms Due to Employees by March 31; Potential Need to Appeal Marketplace Employer Notices on the Horizon

    March 24, 2016

    March, May and June Employer Affordable Care Act (ACA) Reporting Deadlines The revised deadline for employer ACA reporting is just around the corner. By the end of the month (March 31, 2016), employers required to report health care coverage offers must furnish a statement to employees who worked 130 hours or more in at least one month in the 2015 calendar year. These employees should receive a completed IRS Form 1095-C or 1095-B, as applicable. Thereafter, employers have until May 31, 2016 (or until June 30, 2016, 2016, if filing electronically) to submit copies of these forms to the IRS, together...



  • New Employer Worry: Expansion Of Joint Employer Under DOL Guidance

    February 3, 2016

    In January 2016 the Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) issued an Administrative Interpretation (AI) (No. 2016-1, 1/20/16) that would significantly expand the number of employers who would be classified as “joint employers” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA). Employers are rightfully concerned over increased potential liability for violating the FLSA or MSPA. If two or more employers are considered a joint employer, they may be held jointly and severally liable for minimum wage, overtime and other violations of the FLSA and MSPA. The AI notes: “When...



  • January 31, 2016 ACA Employee Notice Deadline Looms; Cadillac Tax Delayed; Other ACA Developments

    December 23, 2015

    January 31, 2016 Deadline to Furnish Forms to Employees By January 31, 2016, many employers must furnish notices to employees in connection with the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) information reporting requirements. Think of it as a W-2 for employer-provided health coverage. As summarized in our November 23, 2015 Client Alert, either a Form 1095-C or 1095-B must be furnished to employees, depending on the coverage type, the size of employer, and the existence of related employers. The Form will provide information about health care coverage offered (or not offered) to employees and their family members during the 2015 calendar year. February (or...



  • Many Employers Must Prepare IRS Forms 1095-C in January 2016 or Face Significant Financial Penalties

    November 23, 2015

    It is important that employers of all sizes are aware that merely offering ACA-compliant health insurance to full-time employees may soon no longer be enough to avoid ACA penalties. In January 2016, in addition to issuing the annual Form-W-2, certain employers must, for the first time, issue the appropriate ACA employer information forms to the IRS and to employees. These forms will describe group health insurance offered (or not offered) during calendar year 2015. The calendar-year reporting requirement applies equally to calendar-year and non-calendar-year plans. While employees must receive any required ACA reporting statements by January 31, 2016, the deadline...



  • Circuit Court Rules That WERC Exceeded Its Rule-Making Authority

    August 12, 2015

    Just when you thought all of the Act 10 litigation had been resolved, along comes Wisconsin Association of State Prosecutors and Service Employees International Union, Local 150 v. WERC in several combined cases challenging the rule-making authority of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) regarding the election process. Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge John J. DiMotto issued an order on July 31, 2015 finding that the WERC exceeded its statutory authority under its administrative rules ERC 70 and 80 with respect to the requirement that a union file a petition for an annual recertification election. The court ruled that based...



  • Labor & Employment Attorney Bruce Deadman Discusses Overtime Regulation Changes in New North B2B Publication

    August 1, 2015

    Bruce Deadman of Davis & Kuelthau’s employee benefits and labor and employment teams authored an article, Department of Labor Unveils Long-Awaited Proposed Overtime Rules for New North B2B's August 2015 publication. To read the article, please click here....



  • New Laws Impact School Districts

    July 7, 2015

    Last week, Governor Scott Walker signed five (5) education-related bills (below) that will impact Wisconsin school districts in a variety of ways. A number of the changes will provide more efficient school operations. School districts should review and revise their policies, procedures and practices to ensure that they are consistent with the new laws. A. Notice of Habitually Truant Students Act 52 expanded the methods by which school districts are able to provide notice to parents/guardians about their habitually truant student(s). Prior to Act 52, school districts were limited to providing notice to parents/guardians via registered or certified mail. After Act 52,...



  • Labor & Employment Attorney Mary Gerbig Discusses Changes in Non-Compete and Severance Agreements in New North B2B Publication

    July 1, 2015

    Mary Gerbig of Davis & Kuelthau’s labor and employment and school and higher education teams authored an article, Changes in Non-Compete and Severance Agreements for New North B2B's July 2015 publication. To read the article, please click here....



  • Proposed FLSA Regulations Impact Compensation of Salaried Employees

    July 1, 2015

    On June 30, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) released a 295-page Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), seeking public comment on proposed rules amending the Fair Labor Standard Act’s (FLSA’s) “white collar” overtime regulations. The proposed changes will nearly double the salary exemption floor for full-time salaried employees and lay the framework for that floor to rise every year. The proposed rules would also increase the total compensation requirement needed to exempt highly compensated employees (HCEs) from overtime to the annualized value of the 90th percentile of weekly earnings of full-time salaried employees (or $122,148 annually). The proposed rules...



  • Attention Employers: The IRS May Be Googling Your Employee Benefits Communications

    June 10, 2015

    Public sector and tax-exempt employers in Wisconsin should be aware that the IRS appears to be targeting section 403(b) plans for examination. Prior to and during recent IRS examinations of 403(b) plans in the state, we have learned that the audit trigger more than once was the IRS’s review of the employers’ websites for 403(b)-related communications. Unfortunately, the information revealed that the employers’ respective 403(b) plans were not being operated in compliance with IRS requirements. The posted documents ultimately led to the IRS selecting the employers’ plan for examination. As the IRS has emphasized in two recent newsletters targeted to federal,...



  • "Notes" Are Not Subject to Disclosure Under the Public Records Law

    June 5, 2015

    The Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled on June 4, 2015 that notes from an investigation by school district officials into alleged hazing and sexual abuse within its wrestling program were not records and therefore not subject to disclosure under the public records law. The Voice of Wisconsin Rapids, LLC v. Wisconsin Rapids Public School District, 2014 AP 1256. The Voice of Wisconsin Rapids newspaper requested all district records regarding an investigation into the district’s wrestling program. District employees conducted interviews, and retained their personal notes from those interviews. The District denied the newspaper’s request for the notes on the basis that...



  • Runzheimer Decision Signals Change of View Toward Restrictive Covenants

    May 1, 2015

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court has issued its decision in Runzheimer International, Ltd. v. Friedlen, 2015 WI 45, holding that an employer’s agreement to refrain from terminating a current at-will employee, without any further promise or benefit, constitutes lawful consideration for signing restrictive covenants, such that the restrictive covenants at issue would not be deemed unenforceable on that basis. This is an important development in the law governing restrictive covenants in Wisconsin, particularly from an employer’s perspective. Historically, Wisconsin law on the issue of restrictive covenants has been considered more employee-friendly, disfavoring the use of restrictive covenants, resolving doubts about the...



  • Effective Communication Under Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act

    April 30, 2015

    The obligations of public school districts to meet the needs of students with disabilities is addressed in Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II) as well as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released guidance on how these regulations, and specifically Title II, impact the communication needs of students in public school districts (school or schools). In light of the growing obligations under the ADA and Title II, schools should review their practices related to Title II prior...



  • Long-Awaited Proposed EEOC Wellness Plan Rules Released

    April 22, 2015

    After years of silence as to how the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA) impacts employer compliance with workplace wellness programs, the EEOC late last week issued proposed rules, and a Fact Sheet (http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/facts_nprm_wellness.cfm) on the topic. The issuance of proposed rules is a welcome development for employer-sponsors of wellness programs, particularly in light of the Chicago regional EEOC office’s initiation last fall of several lawsuits alleging that certain employer wellness program practices violated the ADA. (See our November 2014 Client Alert: Workplace Wellness Programs Under Attack). As several American business groups and members of the U.S. Senate have observed, some...



  • Spouses of H-1B Holders Now Eligible to Work in the U.S.

    April 8, 2015

    Starting May 26, 2015, the spouses of many H1-B visa holders will be eligible for employment authorization documents (EADs). Currently, the dependents of non-immigrant workers under the H1-B program are welcome to live in the United States and are granted a special dependent visa, known as an H4 visa. However, an H4 visa holder cannot engage in any work for compensation while they reside in the United States. This restriction puts a lot of H1-B workers and their employers in a tough spot. It forces many to put careers on hold while they live in the United States, it can...



  • When a Retiree Returns to Work, WRS, ACA, and Tax Rules Impact Public Employers

    March 31, 2015

    As described in our February 23, 2015 Client Update, “Act 10 and Total Employee Compensation,” rules under the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) affect public employees throughout the employment life-cycle, from the initial determination of WRS eligibility through the termination of employment. An individual’s employment life-cycle is sometimes extended when he or she rejoins the workforce to provide services to a WRS employer after officially retiring. It is easy to understand how public employers can benefit from rehiring retired public employees, whether on a temporary, part-time, or longer-term basis. Retirees come prepared with a wealth of specific skills and experience without...



  • Labor & Employment Client Newsletter

    February 24, 2015

    Featured News: Act 10 and Total Employee Compensation Review School Board Policies On Releasing Student Directory Data Event: Davis & Kuelthau's 37th Annual Public Officials Program Act 10 and Total Employee Compensation How well do your employees understand their total compensation beyond their base salary? Many employers are now providing information directly to individual employees with respect to how much the employer contributes toward their health insurance benefits. An employee’s total compensation, though, includes other benefits you provide, such as contributions toward retirement benefits. If you are a public employer participating in the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS), you may have received questions about what types...



  • Review School Board Policies On Releasing Student Directory Data

    February 23, 2015

    School Choice Wisconsin, a nonprofit organization that supports expanding educational options for parents through the use of school vouchers, recently submitted open records requests to 30 school districts seeking student “directory data.” Initially, the organization wanted students’ names, addresses, phone numbers, grade levels and school of attendance. After hearing school district and parental concerns, the organization modified its request in most cases to include only student addresses. Sec. 118.125(1)(b), Wis. Stats., defines “directory data” as “those pupil records which include the pupil’s name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and...



  • Act 10 and Total Employee Compensation

    February 23, 2015

    How well do your employees understand their total compensation beyond their base salary? Many employers are now providing information directly to individual employees with respect to how much the employer contributes toward their health insurance benefits. An employee’s total compensation, though, includes other benefits you provide, such as contributions toward retirement benefits. If you are a public employer participating in the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS), you may have received questions about what types of employee benefits are available through the WRS. Act 10 As a brief background, the WRS is administered by the Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF). State law provides...



  • Wisconsin Supreme Court Holds Reimbursement of Medicare Part B Premiums Not a Vested Right for Milwaukee County Employees

    February 12, 2015

    Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, Local 5001, AFT, AFL-CIO and Association of Milwaukee County Attorneys v. Milwaukee County, 2015 WI 12. Today’s Wisconsin Supreme Court decision in Wisconsin Federation is the latest ruling in a string of opinions relevant to retiree benefits vesting cases, and the second Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling to address the matter since the enactment of Wisconsin Acts 10 and 32. Consistent with other recently-decided benefits vesting cases, the Wisconsin Federation opinion shifts the analysis away from a presumption of vesting toward a fact-specific contract-law approach, under which benefits may in some cases be changed prospectively....



  • Workplace Wellness Programs Under Attack

    November 19, 2014

    Within the last four months, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed lawsuits against two (2) Wisconsin employers and one Minnesota employer alleging that each of the employers’ workplace wellness programs were in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC has been able to file such lawsuits because the language of the ADA and the language of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are not consistent in establishing workplace wellness program requirements and such requirements have not yet been clarified by a legal or authoritative body. As such, any employer operating a workplace wellness program that imposes...



  • EEOC Issues Updated Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues

    July 17, 2014

    On July 14, 2014, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued “Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues,” along with a Question and Answer document about the guidance and a Fact Sheet for small businesses. All are available on the EEOC’s website, www.eeoc.gov. This guidance supersedes the agency’s previous guidance, written more than 30 years ago, and provides an expanded interpretation of what constitutes pregnancy discrimination and when an employer is obligated to accommodate pregnancy-related work restrictions. According to the EEOC’s press release, the guidance addresses many topics, including: The fact that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”), which is part...



  • Supreme Court Ruling Impacts Closely-Held Companies

    July 3, 2014

    On June 30, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a controversial decision affecting certain closely-held corporations. The Court’s 5-4 decision in Burwell et al. v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. et al. resolved a split among the federal appellate courts to hold that the federal government may not tax closely-held corporate employers who, for religious reasons, decline to provide contraception coverage mandated under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Background The Hobby Lobby decision involved three family-owned businesses (the Corporations) owned by two families whose owners claimed a religious exemption from a portion of the ACA coverage mandates. Under regulations promulgated by the Department...



  • Final ACA Regulations Provide Clarity, Allow Employers to Ease In to Compliance

    February 24, 2014

    On February 10, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued final regulations that provide additional guidance and significant transition relief with respect to the “pay-or-play” rules (also called the employer shared responsibility rules) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The final rules retain the core structure of the prior rules, but modify deadlines and certain aspects of coverage. These modifications are intended “to ensure a gradual phase-in” and to assist affected employers in implementing pay-or-play policies and procedures. Some of the most significant transition provisions are summarized below. Pay-or-Play Penalty Refresher In order to avoid a penalty under the ACA...



  • Contribution Limits for 403(b) Plans Remain Unchanged for 2011

    December 16, 2010

    School districts responsible for administering 403(b) plans may also be responsible for communicating with employees regarding eligibility and plan features for the 2011 plan year, including the limits on contributions to 403(b) accounts. The IRS has announced the retirement plan contribution limits that will apply for 2011, and for 403(b) purposes, these limits remain unchanged from 2010. As a result: The elective deferral limit for employees remains at $16,500 (plus a service adjustment, if applicable); The limit on annual additions to a 403(b) plan (which is the combination of all employer contributions and elective deferrals to an employee’s 403(b) accounts)...



Website Developed by: Smart Interactive Media