This paper will be about the United States Department of Labor and the health plans and benefits that COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985) offers. The organic act founded the Department of Labor in March 1913. The purpose of the Department was to foster, advance, and develop the welfare of working people (MacLaury, n.d.). To make better their working circumstances and improve their opportunities for gainful employment. During World War 1 the Department took on the primary duty for applying the nation’s war labor policies, which incorporated recognition of the right of workers to negotiate collectively, the establishment of machinery to regulate grievances, and an 8-hour workday (MacLaury, n.d.).
There were many changes and add-ons to the Department over the years. Promotion of equal job prospect became an essential movement for the Department. In the mostly white construction business, the Department encouraged voluntary minority-hiring agreements between unions and contractors (MacLaury, n.d.). Later these “Philadelphia Plans” set numerical minority hiring goals for contractors in other cities. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) synchronized these and other equal opportunity efforts and helped to enhance their management (MacLaury, n.d.). From its beginnings in 1913 as mainly an immigration agency with limited data collection, labor relations, and social welfare duties, the Department has evolved into one of the central regulatory and human resources development Departments of the Federal Government (MacLaury, n.d.). Significant Features of Website and Monitoring of Employee Benefits The website located at the Department of Labor is about the different health plans and benefits that people are entitled to after they lose their current health benefits. It is called Continuation of Health Coverage (COBRA) (Health Plans & Benefit, n.d.).
COBRA allows employees and their dependents who lose their health benefits the opportunity to keep receiving their group health benefits that were supplied by their group health plan for short periods of time depending on the circumstances (Health Plans & Benefits, n.d.). Some of these include voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduced hours of work, the move from one job to another, death, divorce, and other life events. Qualified people may be expected to pay the whole premium which could be as much as 102 percent of the price of the plan (Health Plans & Benefits, n.d.). COBRA usually necessitates that group health plans supported by companies with 20 or more workers in their previous year offer employees and their families the option for a temporary extension of health coverage (called continuation coverage) in specific instances where coverage under the plan would otherwise end (Health Plans & Benefits, n.d.). The website talks about COBRA Continuation of Health Coverage and who is entitled to receive it.
It has a list or tabs of different health plans and benefits and how they apply to individuals. Also under each tab, there is an explanation as well as other places a person can find information as it relates to the area (Health Plans & Benefits, n.d.). The features of the website can help monitor employee benefits because of the abundant amount of information found on it. It includes other DOL web pages on the topic of COBRA, a frequently asked questions section, compliance assistance for employers, and other issues (Health Plans & Benefits, n.d.). How employers can verify that they comply with federal laws Employers could use this resource to verify that they comply with all federal laws by looking through the websites available information and using the compliance assistance section. One specific area that employers could use is the Summary of the Major Laws of the Department of Labor (Summary of Major Laws, n.d.). Here they will find information that tells them about wages and hours, workplace safety and health, workers’ compensation, employee benefits security, unions and their members, and employee protection to name a few.
They will also find other resources that can help them to ensure they comply. Within the website, they could see many principals and statues that apply to many businesses, workers and job seekers. This website offers a brief overview of the laws and regulations, for an employer to get a fuller description of the rules, they should consult the statutes and regulations themselves (Summary of Major Laws, n.d). Employers should start by checking the primary laws of DOL page on the website which will help them understand which DOL laws apply to their business (Summary of Major Laws, n.d.). It is essential that businesses comply with federal laws because it decreases their risk of being fined, lawsuits, and or shut down by the government. Many rules and regulations are there to help businesses not harm them (Ashe-Edmunds, n.d.). They can help to create a better working environment for their employees, which can lead to more worker productivity. A lot of compliance problems deal with protecting workers. When employees feel that they are working in a fair, professional, and safe environment, the more they will want to work for the organization (Ashe-Edmunds, n.d.). Use of resource by employees Employees can use the website to find out what they are entitled to if they should lose their job thus losing their health benefits and their right to choose to continue the group health benefits they were receiving from their employer.
The website has different DOL web pages on the topic that provides information and guidance for the employee. The frequently asked questions section gives information about COBRA (Health Plans & Benefits, n.d.). For instance, it tells employees what COBRA is, what it can do for them, which group health plans are subject to COBRA, and if there are alternatives for health coverage other than COBRA to name a few. Other topics might be of interest to an employee such as if the organization claims bankruptcy how it will affect the employee’s benefits (Health Plans & Benefits, n.d). When there is a work-life change, how a person can ensure their healthcare rights are protected. Retirement and health care questions and answers, how to keep getting the coverage you currently have from the employer (Health Plans & Benefits, n.d.). Over the last century, a body of laws, rules, and regulations has been built up to protect the rights of workers. These laws cover many aspects of work, from hiring to job loss. Some of the most critical or significant laws as it applies to employees start with wages and hours (Drake & Moskowitz, 1997). The Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) covers wages and hours and is considered one of the most critical wages and hour laws. Another area that is important is on-the-job safety.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) covers on-the-job safety for employees. A few things covered include personal protective equipment, fire protection, and protection against hazardous materials (Drake & Moskowitz, 1997). Many employees are shocked to find out how high medical coverage is when they lose their current benefits due to life changes. The information they find out makes them appreciate what their company had done for them (WorldatWork, 2007). However, this awareness does not occur until most of them leave the company. Employers should give employees information reference to COBRA from their first day on the job. Letting workers know what the employer is paying for benefits as well as what the worker is paying. It will communicate to employees the value of their benefits and may cause them to have a better appreciation of what organizations are doing for them (WorldatWork, 2007). Outline of the Website I. Continuation of Health Coverage The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). COBRA summarizes how employees and family members may choose continuation coverage.
It also calls for employers and plans to provide notice. II. Other DOL Web pages on the Topic A. Compliance assistance for employers. Gives information to help employers in understanding and complying with the requirements of ERISA as it relates to the processing of employee pension and welfare benefit plans. B. Frequently asked questions about COBRA provides answers to regularly asked questions about COBRA. C. Portability of Health Coverage (HIPPA) frequently asked questions gives answers to questions that explain what HIPPA is and how it works. D. Top 10 ways to employees can make their health benefits work for them give information to help employees make knowledgeable decisions about health plans. III. Health Plans & Benefits Listed on the lefthand side of the website are other health plans and benefits that a person can check out. When a person clicks a topic, they get information that pertains to that topic. For example, Health Plans & Benefits: Child Care Assistance provides information about the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) (Health Plans & Benefits, n.d.).
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