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Mental Health Parity Rules Released

On November 8, 2013, the Departments of Labor, Treasury, and Health and Human Services (HHS) released final rules implementing the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), which requires parity between mental health or substance use disorder benefits and medical/surgical benefits with respect to financial requirements and treatment limitations under group health plans and group and individual health insurance coverage.  The final rules will be published in the Federal Register on November 13, 2013.

Read the Final Rules.

Read the FAQs on the Final Rules.

OSHA Names Top 10 Violations for 2013

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released the top 10 most frequently cited standards for the time period extending from October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013 (fiscal year 2013), based on federal OSHA worksite inspections. OSHA publishes this list annually to alert employers to these commonly cited standards so that they can take steps to find and fix recognized hazards addressed in these and other standards before OSHA arrives to inspect their worksites.

The list is as follows:

  1. Sec. 1926.501 — Fall Protection (Construction Industry);
  2. Sec. 1910.1200 — Hazard Communication;
  3. Sec. 1926.451 — Scaffolding (Construction Industry);
  4. Sec. 1910.134 — Respiratory Protection;
  5. Sec. 1910.305 — Electrical, Wiring Methods;
  6. Sec. 1910.178 — Powered Industrial Trucks;
  7. Sec. 1926.1053 — Ladders (Construction Industry);
  8. Sec. 1910.147 — Lockout/Tagout;
  9. Sec. 1910.303 — Electrical, General Requirements; and
  10. Sec. 1910.212 — Machine Guarding.

See the Report.

“Use-or-Lose Rule” for Health Flexible Spending Arrangements Relaxed

On October 31, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Treasury Department issued Notice 2013-71 modifying the longstanding “use-or-lose” rule for health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs). For the first time, at the plan sponsor’s option, employees participating in health FSAs will be allowed to carry over – instead of forfeiting – up to $500 of unused amounts remaining at year-end.

Read the Treasury Department Press Release and Fact Sheet.

Read IRS Notice 2013-71.

IRS Announces Maximum Retirement Plan Contribution Limits for 2014

On October 31, 2013, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that the maximum annual contribution that can be made to 401(k) plans in 2014 will remain at the current limit, while the maximum benefit that can be funded through defined benefit plans will increase.  Here are the details:

  • The maximum annual contribution an employee can make through salary reduction to a 401(k) plan in 2014 will stay at the current $17,500 limit, while the maximum catch-up contribution employees age 50 and older can make to 401(k) plans will be $5,500, unchanged from 2013.
  • The maximum annual benefit funded through a defined benefit plan for a plan participant will increase to $210,000 from the $205,000 allowable amount in 2013. The amount of employee compensation that can be considered in calculating pension benefits and contributions to defined contribution plans will increase $5,000 in 2014 to $260,000.
  • The definition of a highly compensated employee for 401(k) plan nondiscrimination testing purposes remains unchanged at earnings of at least $115,000 next year.
  • The taxable wage base for 2014 increases to $117,000, from $113,700 in 2013.

These 2014 limits are set through Internal Revenue Code Section 415 requirements based on annual adjustments for cost-of-living increases.

View the IRS Chart



San Francisco – HCSO Health Care Expenditure Rates

The Office of Labor Standards Enforcement OLSE has released the health care expenditure rates for 2014 under the San Francisco Health Care Security Ordinance.  Effective January 1, 2014, the health care expenditure rate for large businesses (100 or more employees) will be $2.44 per hour, and the rate for medium sized businesses (20-99 employees) will be $1.63 per hour.

See the Health Care Expenditure Rates for 2014.

Read the Health Care Security Ordinance.

FAQs on the HCSO and the Affordable Care Act.

San Francisco – Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance

On October 9, 2013, San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee signed the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance (Ordinance No. 209-13), amending the administrative code to provide San Francisco-based employees with the right to request flexible or predictable working arrangements to assist with care giving responsibilities.

The ordinance requires that employers with 20 or more employees allow any employee who is employed in San Francisco, has been employed for six months or more by the current employer, and works at least eight hours per week on a regular basis to request a flexible or predictable working arrangement to assist with caregiving responsibilities. The employee may request the flexible or predictable working arrangement to assist with care for:

  • A child or children for whom the employee has assumed parental responsibility;
  • A person or persons with a serious health condition in a family relationship with the caregiver;
  • A parent age 65 or older of the caregiver.

Within 21 days of an employee’s request for a flexible or predictable working arrangement described above, an employer must meet with the employee regarding the request. The employer must respond to an employee’s request within 21 days of that meeting.

An employer who denies a request must explain the denial in a written response that sets out a bona fide business reason for the denial and provides the employee with notice of the right to request reconsideration.

The ordinance goes into effect on January 1, 2014.

Read Ordinance No. 209-13

Read the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance Fact Sheet

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