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Employers are changing benefit offerings in response to Affordable Care Act; economy and job market also having an influence

CHICAGO, June 16, 2013 — Employers are making gradual changes in the benefits they offer employees in response to new laws and the economy, according to research released today by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Legislation — including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — smaller organizational and HR budgets, an uneven economy and other factors are influencing employers’ decisions on what benefits to offer their employees, noted the 2013 Employee Benefits Research Report, which was released at SHRM’s Annual Conference & Exposition.

The report found a large increase in the percentage of employers offering contraceptive coverage — 82 percent of surveyed employers in 2013, up from 66 percent in 2009. The Affordable Care Act requires that preventive services, including birth control, be included in new health insurance plans.

In 2010, a provision of the Affordable Care Act required employers with more than 50 employees to provide private space or lactation rooms for nursing mothers. The new report showed that one-third of employers (34 percent) now have a separate lactation or mother’s room that goes above and beyond the law, an increase from 25 percent in 2009.

“HR professionals are leading their organizations through this complex legislation helping them to not only comply with the law but offer strategically designed benefits packages for their employees,” said Alex Alonso, SHRM’s vice president for research.

Alonso will discuss the benefits research and answer questions during a press briefing at 4:30 p.m. CDT today (Sunday, June 16) in room S502 of McCormick Place in Chicago. For dial-in directions, contact SHRM Media Relations.

Employers also are responding to state laws legalizing same-sex marriage. SHRM’s research report found that about one-quarter of employers (24 percent) offer domestic partner benefits for same-sex partners, excluding health care coverage, an increase from 15 percent last year and 14 percent in 2009.

And employers are adjusting benefits as they compete for talented employees and struggle to address skills gaps in their workforces.

  • Employee referral bonuses have gained in popularity over the last year, with 47 percent of surveyed organizations now offering such bonuses, up from 38 percent in 2012.
  • Organizations are developing their employees’ skill sets with professional development opportunities (offered by 88 percent of employers), cross-training to develop skills not directly related to employees’ current jobs (44 percent) and formal mentoring programs (20 percent). Offsite professional development opportunities are offered by 85 percent of organizations surveyed.

The survey of 518 randomly selected HR professionals examines 299 benefits. Among other findings:

  • Paid-time-off plans and wellness benefits continued to increase in popularity, while housing and relocation benefits were less common.
  • The most commonly offered benefits were: prescription drug program coverage (98 percent of organizations offered them), paid holidays (97 percent), dental insurance (96 percent) and defined contribution retirement savings plans (92 percent).
  • Among health care and welfare benefits, the majority of employers provide mental health coverage (89 percent), and the most common type of health insurance was a preferred provider organization (PPO) plan (86 percent).

Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company, based in Columbia, S.C., is the exclusive sponsor of the research report.

“This survey offers employers very reliable data that they can use to make informed decisions about the benefits they offer their employees,” said Randy Horn, president and CEO of Colonial Life. “Because our mission focuses on helping working Americans understand and appreciate their benefits, we welcome the opportunity to support employers through this survey.”

For more information, visit the research section of shrm.org at http://www.shrm.org/Research/SurveyFindings/Articles/Pages/2013Employee-Benefits.aspx. Follow SHRM Research on Twitter @SHRM_Research.

Media: To request an interview or to connect to the press briefing on the survey, contact Kate Kennedy of SHRM Media Relations at [email protected], 703-535-6260 or 703-862-5192 or Julie Malveaux at [email protected] and 703-535-6273.

About the Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing about 260,000 members in more than 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at www.shrm.org and follow us on Twitter @SHRMPress and @SHRM_Research.

About Colonial Life

Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company is a market leader in providing financial protection benefits through the workplace, including disability, life, accident, cancer, critical illness and supplemental health insurance. The company’s benefit services and education, innovative enrollment technology and personal service support more than 79,000 businesses and organizations, representing more than 3 million working Americans and their families. For more information visit www.coloniallife.com or connect with the company at www.facebook.com/coloniallifebenefits, www.twitter.com/coloniallife and www.linkedin.com/company/colonial-life.  

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