Category Archives: Benefits

Postings and discussions about benefits topics

Africa Compensation and Benefits Event – Feb 7th

Author:
Warren Heaps – Birches Group LLC

Are you interested in Compensation and Benefits in Africa?  If you are nearby to Johannesburg, you should plan to attend the Employer Roundtable sponsored by Birches Group, Emergence Growth and Aon Hewitt on February 7, 2013.

The event will be held at Aon Hewitt South Africa offices in Sandton.  You must register in order to attend.  Click here for more information and to reserve your seat.

I look forward to meeting you!

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Ten Questions HR Should Ask When Your Company Expands Internationally

Author:
Warren Heaps – Birches Group LLC

Companies are increasing the pace of international expansion, constantly seeking new opportunities and new markets.  One of the most commonly asked questions through our Ask the Experts feature and on other sites is how to prepare, from a human resources perspective, for international expansion.  It might be opening a new office, or just hiring one or two sales reps, but either way, there’s work to do.  If your company is expanding to a new country, what questions should you ask (and answer) as an international HR expert to help prepare your firm?

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Wellness Programs — Global or Local?

Author:
Jacque Vilet – Vilet International

Many companies are coming to the realization that the health and wellness of their global workforce is an important issue.   Wellness programs that began in the U.S. or Europe, typically at headquarters locations, are now expanding globally.

Towers Watson recently released their 2011 survey entitled “Multinational Workforce Health”.  The survey included 149 participants representing 5.2 million employees in 37 countries. Continue reading

Importance of Medical Insurance in Multinational Pooling

Author:
Jacque Vilet – Vilet International

Many companies with employees located in many countries globally provide supplemental benefits in addition to those that are government mandated.   Many of these supplemental plans are insured:   life, accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D), disability, retirement, etc.   Typically, the office in each country location manages their own process of selecting insurance companies, types of coverage, comparing premiums and settling on the final contract language.   Sometimes the number of employees is very small and, therefore, the premium is high because the risk is spread over a small number of people.

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International Annual Leave Rules — Or I Want to Live in Brazil!

Author:
Jacque Vilet – Vilet International

In many parts of the world, time off from work is called annual leave or holiday, not vacation.  Whatever you call it, we can agree on a universal definition:  Annual leave refers to the period of time-off with pay which is available to employees, to pursue relaxation and recreation with their family and friends.  The amount of annual leave provided in different countries around the world varies quite a bit.  This post provides a nice summary of the legal requirements for annual leave provisions in some key countries. In order to be competitive in a specific country, a company also needs to take competitive data in mind when forming its policy.

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Africa Compensation Update – 2010


Author:
Warren Heaps – Birches Group LLC

Back in April of 2009, I published a post entitled “A Glimpse of Pay and Benefits in Africa.”  A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure to speak at an International Compensation and Benefits meeting in Houston, Texas, hosted by the National Foreign Trade Council, where my topic was also focused on Africa in general, and some information about pay practices there.  I thought it would be nice to share some highlights here.

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Employment in France – A Quick Checklist for Employers

Guest Author:
John Tinsley - Compandben.com

Editor’s Note:  This post is written by John Tinsley, Managing Director and Owner of Compandben.com, a Geneva-based HR consultancy.  John is an HR practitioner with over 25 years of experience in Europe and the Middle East.  John’s company offers assistance to employers in finding reliable local payroll partners in over 100 countries.  He also provides consulting services in areas such as labor contracts, employee handbooks, benefits, and compensation.

Employment in France has some unique requirements and challenges.  For employers establishing businesses in France for the first time, the following checklist is a handy guide of what to consider:

  1. All employees in France are notionally attached to a “Convention Collective” or Collective Agreement for their industry. The agreements are very similar but there are variations between industry in terms of vacation, social charges, and termination indemnities, so employers need to define what their business is. As an example,”Telecoms” wouldn’t be detailed enough. “Provision and implementation of routers for wide area networks” would be ok.
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Managing Pay in a Global Enterprise


Author:
Warren Heaps – Birches Group LLC

You work for a global employer with on-the-ground operations across the world. Your duties include “managing global pay.”  Where do you start?  What are some approaches to consider?   If you’ve been wondering about this, keep reading.

Back in February, I wrote a post entitled “Think Globally, Act Locally”, in which I cited the example of how salary scale designs differ across markets with different characteristics.  But salary scales are just one aspect of the broad range of issues faced when managing pay globally.One of the most important steps in effectively managing compensation across a global enterprise is to have a formal compensation policy.

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Five Secrets to Reduce Benefits Cost, Part 5


Author:
George Bashaw – Atlas Global Benefits

It is time to unlock the power of hidden benefits.  Each year when preparing to communicate new benefits changes, we tend to get bogged down in the delivery of rising medical costs and medical benefit changes. Understandably, medical hits the company’s bottom line and the employee’s wallet the hardest. This singular focus on medical benefits causes us to neglect the communication of other valuable benefits that may directly or indirectly save money for the company and your employees.  Prior posts in this series include Enrollment and Billing Audit, Dependent Eligibility Audit, Know Your Claims and Duplication of Coverage.

Secret Five:  Hidden Benefits
Hidden benefits are services and benefits that your employees may not fully understand or have no knowledge they exist.  They could be stand alone plans or riders on policies. Either way, they have a purpose and can be very useful.

They key is identify your hidden benefits and communicate them properly. Here is a list of  typical hidden benefits and some additional information about them:

  • International EAP
  • Preferred networks
  • Short term disability
  • Disease management
  • RX discounts
  • Medical evacuation and repatriation

The importance of an international EAP plan could merit several blog pieces on its own.  The obvious benefits of EAP are credit, substance, marital, emotional counseling, and the list continues.  Take anyone one of these common issues and multiply the stress of being a thousand miles from home and your support group and you have a serious problem.  A problem that needs to be addressed by someone who can support the cultural issues, language barriers, and the exponential stress associated of being abroad.  Not utilizing a good EAP plan can create loss of productivity and maybe the loss of your expat.

Some international medical plans come with EAP riders and other useful riders like medical evacuation and repatriation. You have to determine if the rider is adequate for your needs compared to a standalone plan.  Either way, it is important employees understand their benefits and how they can utilize them.

Communication
Make sure you take the time to communicate all your benefits each year and not just the changes. Ensure that everyone has a summary of the plan in an easy to follow handbook that can be accessed via the internet.  Additionally, you should issue new cards each year for wallets and purses.

My final recommendation on communication is bit outside the box but I have seen very positive results with my clients.  I recommend you consider inviting spouses to the meetings or at least include them in the communication.  In every home, you have a quarterback on issues like benefits and half the time it is the spouse.  Effectively communication with the spouse may pay off in the long run.

Good luck unlocking the power of your hidden benefits. I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue.

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Five Secrets to Reduce Benefits Cost, Part 4


Author:

George Bashaw – Atlas Global Benefits

Need to find some savings without cutting something?  Pull out your bills and perform an enrollment audit.  This blog is part four in a series of simple ways to save money without altering your current benefit design or carrier. Prior posts in this series include Dependent Eligibility Audit, Know Your Claims and Duplication of Coverage.

Secret Four –  Enrollment and Billing Audit

I know it’s not very sexy but a sharp eye can find a few bucks with four simple steps.

Step One: Active Employees

Make sure only active employees are on the bill. When an employee leaves make sure they are immediately removed from your plan.  If they wish to continue coverage, make sure they are enrolled in COBRA (if applicable).

Step Two: Enrollment Errors

Verify that each person is enrolled in the plan they selected during enrollment and the carrier is billing you correctly.  Some plans have more than one medical choice and many plans have various levels of life insurance options where mistakes are easily made.

Step Three: Billing Errors

Once you have determined that everyone is enrolled correctly, make sure you are correctly being charged for every selection.  Despite all you hard efforts to renegotiate your insurance rates, you may find out the changes did not make it to the carrier’s billing system, or they were entered incorrectly.

Step Four: International Employees

You may be getting billed for employees who are not covered for thier specific region. It is important that you understand the contractual provisions of all your plans.  If you are covering local employees on an international plan, make sure the carrier is aware of their locations and they are included in the plan. I have seen many plans (EAP, long term disability, medical, life, and most importantly war risk) that have country specific coverage exclusions.

I hope you four-step your way into some savings.  Please share your thoughts.

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