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Washington’s Paid Family Medical Leave Program Explained

As a resource to help small businesses navigate the complex word of health insurance and employee benefits, Business Health Trust strives to keep employers informed on policies that could impact their employee benefits.

With amendments to Washington state’s Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML) program going into effect this month, we are sharing this informative blog post from Davis Wright Tremaine on What Employers Should Know About Washington’s Paid Family Medical Leave Program in 2022.

Under Washington’s PFML program, eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave and partial wage replacement for their own serious health condition (medical leave) or for family care (family leave), up to 16 weeks of combined family and medical leave, and up to two additional weeks for certain pregnancy complications. Employees may also take leave for certain qualifying military exigencies.

Unlike federal FMLA where employees interact directly with their employers to determine eligibility, employees apply directly to the Washington Employment Security Department (ESD) to request leave, and the ESD administers the PFML program and determines employee eligibility.

The blog encourages employees to review and update their policies now to ensure continue compliance, and focuses on 10 key considerations to help Washington employers navigate PFML, including:

  1. Employers must notify employees of PFML rights.
  2. Employees must notify employers of the need for leave.
  3. Employers cannot designate PFML leave.
  4. The Employment Security Department notifies employers of PFML applications and approvals.
  5. PFML can be used on an intermittent basis.
  6. Employers can offer “supplemental benefits” to top off PFML benefits.
  7. Benefits continuation is required in some circumstances.
  8. Some employees may be entitled to job restoration.
  9. Retaliation is prohibited.
  10. Other leaves may run concurrently with PFML leave.

For more information, read the full blog post from Davis Wright Tremaine.

Ease Your Administrative Burden by Renewing Your Employee Benefits in July

Did you know that Business Health Trust offers flexible renewal dates that can help lighten your workload at the end of the year?

Now is the time to explore our employee benefits programs with medical from Premera Blue Cross that renew on July 1, which include:

  • Aerospace Industry Health Trust
  • Healthcare Industry Health Trust
  • Media Industry Health Trust
  • Tourism Industry Health Trust
  • Transportation Industry Health Trust

With a July 1 anniversary date, you can move the burden of open enrollment to a time that might be easier for both employers and employees.

As your source for employee benefits, Business Health Trust is focused on simplifying your administration and helping you cut costs. Whether you have two employees or more than 100, we can help you create a benefits program that attracts talent and keeps your employees healthy and productive — at a budget you can afford.

Learn more about the diverse selection of health insurance plans combined with other resources and discounts available through Business Health Trust on our What We Offer page. Questions? Contact info@businesshealthtrust.com or fill out our Request a Quote form.

Business Health Trust Offers Simplified Administration and Improved Data Security

Business Health Trust is dedicated to simplifying administration for its members so they can focus on what’s important: their business. We handle benefit plan administration for ultimate convenience, offering consolidated billing, online payment, and online access to benefits for easy enrollment throughout the year.

Through our partnership with third-party administrator Vimly Benefit Solutions, Business Health Trust members have access to the SIMON online benefits management tool. Accessible on any computer or mobile device, the platform provides a centralized location where an HR administrator can manage year-round benefits enrollment, have access to consolidated billing and payment, compliance support as well as a COBRA management solution.

SIMON’s state-of-the-art technology also allows for secure transfer of sensitive data, which can improve members’ data security while further simplifying administrative tasks. By utilizing SIMON, workloads and errors are reduced, and work gets done more quickly and efficiently.

To learn more about how to take advantage of the SIMON platform as a Business Health Trust member, contact info@businesshealthtrust.com.

Wellspring EAP Offers Manager Training on Leading From Within

For nearly two years, the entire world has been a period of ongoing uncertainty and change. Being a leader of people during these challenging times exposed many of us to problems that had never been fully addressed. In addition to facilitating a tremendous amount of rapid and ongoing change, many in your organization are tired and emotionally drained, and you may be there yourself.

Business Health Trust partners with Wellspring EAP to offer members 24/7 resources that include counseling assessments, legal and financial services and professional resources. On Wednesday, February 16, Wellspring is delving into the topic of Leading from Within during a live webinar from noon to 1 p.m.

In this webinar, join Wellspring to explore what it looks like to lead from within and develop strategies to effectively support your teams during challenging times.

About the Trainer
Tiffany Wentz, LMHC is a mental health therapist, academic instructor, and workplace trainer. A former United States Marine turned Licensed Mental Health Counselor, clinical director, and businesswoman, Tiffany uses her diverse perspectives and leadership experience to inform her work. She infuses years of experience and education with humor and humanity in her trainings to help build connection and facilitate personal and professional growth.

About Wellspring EAP
To learn more about the resources available to Business Health Trust members through Wellspring EAP, download the Business Health Trust Employee Assistance Program flyer.

 

WA Cares Long Term Care Tax on Hold

On January 27, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed two bills passed by the state Legislature that have put the brakes on the WA Cares Fund, which Business Health Trust first addressed in July in our article “Are You Prepared for the WA Long-Term Care Act?

As originally written, the law would have mandated public long-term care (LTC) benefits for Washington residents that would be funded by Washington wage earners via a 0.58% tax on employee wages. Washington state residents contributing to the program would have become eligible to a lifetime benefit of $36,500 to pay for long-term services and support (in Washington state). Please watch our short video below video to learn more:

According to the WA Cares Fund website, the new bills will address coverage gaps and delay program implementation by 18 months. Changes include:

Workers near retirement (born before 1968) will be able to qualify for partial benefits on a pro-rated basis.

  • Workers who live out of state and work in Washington, military spouses, workers on non-immigrant visas, and certain veterans with disabilities will be able to opt out of the program if they choose.
  • Workers will begin contributing to the fund in July 2023. Employers will refund any premiums collected in 2022 so far.

For details on the changes, you can read House Bill 1732 and House Bill 1733.

For now, employers should:

  • Stop withholding WA Cares premiums from employee earnings.
  • Reimburse employees for WA Cares premiums within 120 days of the date premiums were collected.
  • Continue to maintain copies of exemption approval letters for workers who’ve provided them.

To learn more, sign up for the Employment Security Department’s employer newsletter

Your Open Enrollment Solution: Business Health Trust

Business Health Trust is more than your source for employee benefits. As you explore health insurance options during open enrollment and beyond, our comprehensive, affordable health insurance options and unique services remain a valuable choice that can help you attract talent and keep your employees healthy and productive.

With more than 40 medical plans to choose from — all offering robust virtual care services and a 24-hour nurse line — you’ll be able to find health insurance that meets the needs of your employees at a budget you can afford. Whether you have two employees or more than 100, we can help you create a benefits program with diverse insurance options including:

  • Medical from Premera Blue Cross or Kaiser Permanente
  • Dental from Delta Dental of Washington
  • Vision from VSP Vision Care Inc.
  • Basic Life/AD&D/Voluntary Life from LifeMap
  • Voluntary Personal Accident from AIG
  • Employee Assistance Program from Wellspring EAP
  • Business Insurance from Newfront Total Solution

With a core value to be a resource for small and mid-sized employers in Washington state, Business Health Trust also offers a number of additional services and discounts. Members have access to retirement solutions through EVOLVE 401(k) and through our exclusive partnership with Archbright. Robust discounts and savings for small businesses include Passport Corporate Membership, ORCA cards for employees, office supplies, technology and more.

Healthy Workplace Credit Offers New Benefit for Members

This fall, Business Health Trust is offering even more to its members through a new Healthy Workplace Credit announced with the plan sponsor, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

To help small businesses as they navigate bringing employees back to work during the pandemic, Business Health Trust will give member employers a one-time $100 credit for each employee who is covered by its medical insurance plans and is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

This offering is just one of many unique resources provided by Business Health Trust to members as well as to the greater community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, from coordinating dozens of COVID-19 vaccine clinics to providing both free and discounted PPE supplies and more.

To learn more or to enroll today to get access to these great resources, contact 425.201.1972 or email info@businesshealthtrust.com.

Business Health Trust Announces New Healthy Workplace Credit for Covered Employees Who are Fully Vaccinated

SEATTLE – The Business Health Trust board and its plan sponsor, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, announced today a new credit to support Washington small businesses as they navigate bringing employees back to work during the pandemic.

Business Health Trust will give member employers a one-time $100 credit for each employee who is covered by its medical insurance plans and is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Through the new Healthy Workplace Credit, Business Health Trust is investing nearly $1 million in the health and wellness of its more than 13,330 member companies.

“Vaccination is the key to keeping our workforce healthy and safe by protecting workers, their families, and the community as a whole,” said Sarai Childs, executive director of Business Health Trust. “For many of our member businesses, vaccination has helped them keep their doors open so they can safely work with customers and operate in their communities. Reducing the risk of hospitalization and complications from COVID-19 also reduces plan costs, and our board wanted to make sure the small businesses we cover see that benefit.”

“Our core value is to be a resource to employers in Washington state,” said Childs. She added, “We’re proud to provide quality health insurance for small employers, and we are proud that we can provide some relief for the ever-increasing costs that employers face. We’re also here to support our members as they navigate discussions with their employees about vaccination. Taking an active role in encouraging healthy behaviors is one of the best ways employers can help reduce and control the costs of employee absence and the costs associated with employee benefits.”

To claim the Healthy Workplace Credit, Business Health Trust member employers must complete an Employer Attestation Form by January 20, 2022. Through this simple attestation, employers can indicate the number of employees who have received the COVID-19 vaccine, and they will then get $100 per employee as a credit on their account. This is an opt-in program, and the credit will show up on the employer’s April 2022 bill.

While the credit is applied to the employer’s bill, Business Health Trust is providing employers with ideas for how they can offer their own meaningful incentives directly to employees who have been or choose to be vaccinated – whether that is paying the vaccinated employees’ insurance costs for one month, purchasing gift cards or donating the $100 to a non-profit organization of each employee’s choice.

While Business Health Trust covers more than 22,400 employees and their dependents statewide, the $100 credit only applies to those covered employees who are vaccinated.

To obtain the attestation form, employers with medical products through Business Health Trust can contact their insurance producer or email info@businesshealthtrust.com.

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About Business Health Trust

Business Health Trust was founded in Seattle in 2007 so that small businesses and non-profits could offer their employees the health benefits they need to stay competitive and provide health insurance for groups that might not otherwise be able to afford coverage. An Association Health Plan allows small businesses to join together as a group to purchase insurance so their employees can have access to the same pricing and coverage enjoyed by large employers. Today, more than 22,400 small business employees across the state get their health insurance benefits through Business Health Trust.

About the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce

The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce is the regional business advocacy organization that engages the innovation and entrepreneurship of its 2,500 members to promote inclusive economic prosperity. Founded in 1882 by local business leaders, the Chamber today is an independent organization representing a regional workforce of approximately 750,000.

Smiling senior citizens.

Are You Prepared for the WA Long-Term Care Act?

As a source to help small businesses navigate the complex world of health insurance and employee benefits, Business Health Trust has compiled valuable resources to help employers and employees understand the Washington Long-Term Care Act.

The new law mandating public long-term care (LTC) benefits for Washington residents will be funded by Washington wage earners via a 0.58% tax on employee wages.

Washington state residents who contribute to the program will become eligible to a lifetime benefit of $36,500 to pay for long-term services and supports (in Washington state).

Employees can receive an exemption from paying premiums if they have long-term care insurance before November 1, 2021, and apply for an exemption from October 1, 2021 through December 31, 2022.

For more information about the program, please watch our short video above, or visit our resources page with program details and helpful links: businesshealthtrust.com/tools.

If you are interested in pursuing a group policy for your small business, Business Health Trust has partnered with Allstate to provide a life insurance policy with a long-term care insurance rider. Please contact us at quote@businesshealthtrust.com for more information or help.