HR Elements: Working Families

Some Companies Are Going Above and Beyond to Support Mothers and Fathers

While the last two decades witnessed a steady rise in pregnancy discrimination claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there is good news out there for working families.

Many companies are opting to create innovative and forward-thinking ways to support working parents and, in some cases, companies are blazing the trail ahead of state or federal legislation. There is no mandated federal parental-leave policy to follow, so many employers are opting to craft their own, according to HR Executive.

While high-profile companies like Patagonia have decades of practice, and generate significant positive publicity, offering benefits and perks for families ranging from multi-month leave to adoption and fertility assistance to on-site daycare, there are models for companies looking to simply get started.

Getting started may mean expanding benefits available to employees by offering health and dental coverage for immediate family members or a discounted rate on family plans. Providing a bonus for childcare or exploring a partnership with a local childcare provider shows that there may be different ways to approach a single challenge, in this case the cost of child care. Or, if a company can’t financially support childcare, it may be able to offer flexibility when time off is needed for a sick child, or to attend a school function, as explored in Forbes.

Sometimes an employer may decide to offer a highly specific benefit. Benefit News reports that some benefits for new moms, like breast milk shipping for women who are traveling while nursing, will continue to become more popular with larger, well-known companies potentially leading the charge. A nursing-friendly workplace may offer comfortable, private lactation areas, time to pump built into a day or other policies addressing a concern that might otherwise keep a talented new mom out of the workforce.

Thoughtful, responsive policies need not only focus on working mothers who recently gave birth. Prenatal considerations, maternity leave, and flexible post-baby work options are still very much up for discussion. But today, the changing face of the American family requires companies to be mindful and draft policies that support the diverse ways families form and function.

While the number of parents who don’t work stayed about the same, dads are staying home in higher numbers than in years past. As more millennial and Gen Z workers become parents, pregnancy and family support will not only continue to be on the forefront of desirable benefits for employees, those benefits will very likely continue to evolve.

Worried how babies may impact your bottom line? In good news to businesses, many family-friendly policies could be very good for business too, according to HR Dive. The already constricted talent market could see an influx of more than five million workers if more robust parental leave policies or other creative family-friendly solutions were implemented. Helping future and current parents join the workforce can be beneficial for everyone. Likewise, efforts to keep parents on leave connected and engaged, or to allow for a phased return, would also potentially help with post-leave retention.

Making family-forward policies an HR priority in 2019? You don’t need to reinvent the wheel or overhaul your entire workplace culture to make a difference. Consider involving the voices of your employees for small, practical steps you can take and to get a pulse read on the bigger concerns on their minds. Before you start, and if you have 15 or more employees, Workforce offers a refresher on some of the required protections. Be sure to review your state’s minimums with requirements detailed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The Ins and Outs of Warming Up and Cooling Down

OK, you’ve made it to the gym, you’ve donned your sneakers, and you’re ready to go! Or are you?

If you’re headed for a workout, whether by yourself or in a group, it’s really important that you warm up before you get into it, and cool down when you’re done.

Feel the Heat

Why warm up?

It gets your body ready for activity by getting your blood flowing to your muscles. As your blood vessels dilate, your muscles get more oxygen to help them do the work you’re asking them to do. Warming up also raises your body temperature, increases respiration, and lets your heart rate rise gradually. This all helps your body get ready for the more vigorous activity you’re prepared to do. It’s kind of like pre-heating your oven before cooking.

In general, warm up with an easier, slower, less intense version of the exercise you’re planning to do. For instance, before going for a run, warm up by walking quickly for five or ten minutes. Your warm-up shouldn’t tire you out, but you might work up a mild sweat. Slightly longer warm-ups are best for people who are newer to exercise and for those who are getting ready for some extra-intense activity.

Too Cool To Cool Down?

Think cooling down is just for wimps? Think again. When you stop exercising suddenly, the blood that’s been helping your muscles work can pool. And the heart and brain won’t get the oxygenated blood they need quite fast enough, which can cause you to feel dizzy or lightheaded, nauseous or even faint.

You want your heart to get back to its resting rate gradually and allow your body the chance to recover. Many people skip the warm-up and cool-down. After all, they make your workout last longer, and we’re always pressed for time these days.

But to get the most out of your exercise routine — and to feel extra great afterwards — a few added minutes on either end of your workout will be well worth it.

 

Healthy Recipe of the Month: Twenty Minute Chili

The hardest part of this recipe is opening the cans of beans, tomatoes and hominy. The chili’s flavor is deep and full, as if it simmered all day.

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 15-ounce (450g) can low-sodium pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 14.5-ounce can (435g) Mexican-style stewed tomatoes, crushed

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon chopped chipotle or jalapeño peppers (from a can)

optional:

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa

1 pinch cinnamon

1 16-ounce (440g) can yellow hominy, rinsed

Chopped cilantro or green onion

Lime wedges

Preparations

1. Spray a large, heavy saucepan with cooking spray and set over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer.

2. Stir in beans, tomatoes, chili powder, chipotles (if using), cumin, oregano, cocoa and cinnamon. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Add hominy and cook until heated through.

3. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro or green onions. Serve lime wedges alongside.

Makes: 4 servings

It’s That Time of the Year Again for ACA Reporting

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created reporting rules under Code Sections 6055 and 6056 that require certain employers to provide information to the IRS about the health plan coverage they offer (or do not offer) or provide to their employees. Each reporting entity must annually file all of the following with the IRS:

  • A separate statement (Form 1095-B or Form 1095-C) for each individual who is provided with minimum essential coverage (for providers reporting under Section 6055), or for each full-time employee (for ALEs reporting under Section 6056)
  • A transmittal form (Form 1094-B or Form 1094-C) for all of the returns filed for a given calendar year

Reporting entities must also furnish related statements (Form 1095-B or 1095-C) to individuals.The final forms for 2018 have been published, which means it’s time for you to take action. Fortunately, the 2018 forms and instructions are substantially similar to the 2017 versions. The most significant change is that Form 1095-C clarifies that the “Plan Start Month” box in Part II will remain optional for 2018. The IRS previously indicated that this box may have been mandatory for the 2018 Form 1095-C.

These forms must be filed with the IRS no later than Feb. 28, 2019 (April 1, 2019, if filing electronically). However, the IRS extended the due date for furnishing individual statements for 2018 an extra 30 days, from Jan. 31, 2019, to March 4, 2019.

Please contact us today to get assistance with ACA reporting or to request employee communications on this topic.

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