21st Century Cures Act Provides New Healthcare Option for Small Employers

On January 1, 2017, a new law took effect which allows small employers to provide their employees extra compensation to purchase their own health insurance without penalties. President Obama signed the new law, called the 21st Century Cures Act, on December 13, 2016. Previously, small employers who did not provide group health insurance faced penalties under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) if they provided their employees with additional monies to assist with individual health insurance premiums. Now, small employers may provide Health Reimbursement Arrangements (“HRAs”) (also known as Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangements (“QSEHRAS”)) to their employees without facing penalties.
What are HRAs?
HRAs are arrangements under which the employer contributes funds up to a certain amount per year, which can be used to reimburse employees’ medical expenses including insurance premiums. Unused amounts may be used in future years. Funds the employer contributes are excluded from payroll tax. And, the funds the employee receives are excluded from the employee’s income for tax purposes.
Who is eligible to provide HRAs?
Small employers with fewer than 50 employees (based upon last year’s average and excluding seasonal employees) that do not sponsor a group health plan are eligible to provide HRAs to their employees. Employers with 50 or more employees cannot offer an HRA and may fall under the ACA’s requirement to provide group health coverage. Eligible employers can fund HRAs to pay for non-group plan premiums. Their employees can use the funds to purchase their own health insurance plans, including ones on healthcare marketplaces and exchanges under the ACA.
What are the requirements if we provide an HRA?
There are several requirements for small employers who choose to provide an HRA to their employees:
• Employers must offer HRAs to all Full Time Equivalent (FTE) employees except: those employed less than 90 days, those under 25 years old, seasonal employees, those covered by a collective bargaining agreement, and part time employees.
• The maximum reimbursement employers can provide is $4,950 for single coverage and $10,000 for family coverage per year. These amounts must be pro-rated for employees that begin employment mid-year. These amounts are set to be adjusted annually for inflation.
• Employers must adopt a policy that treats all employees equally. Contributions to HRAs should be the same for all employees, but, contributions can vary based upon price of the individual health insurance market.
o For example, an employer is compliant if they adopt a policy stating they provide 50% of the premium for all employees. Under this policy, an employee with family coverage or an older employee may receive more than a younger employee with single coverage. An employer is not compliant if they adopt a policy wherein they provide 100% of the premiums for managers and 50% of the premiums for all other employees. This would be an impermissibly unequal policy.
• HRAs must be funded solely by the employer, with no salary contributions or reductions from the employee.
• Employers must provide HRA notices to employees or face penalties.
o No later than 90 days before the beginning of an HRA plan year, or the date an employee first becomes eligible for the HRA, employers must provide a written notice to each eligible employee which includes: (1) the amount of the employee’s permitted benefit under the HRA for the year; (2) a statement that the eligible employee should provide their HRA benefit amount to any health insurance exchange to which the employee applies for advance payment of the premium assistance tax credit; and (3) a statement that if the employee does not have minimum essential coverage required by the ACA for any month, the employee may be subject to tax under the individual mandate for that month and HRA reimbursements may be taxed as gross income.
o If an employer does not to provide the required notice, the employer may be subject to a $50 per-employee, per-incident penalty, up to a $2,500 maximum.
• Employers must report the value of HRA benefits on their employees’ W-2 Forms beginning in 2017 (i.e. in January 2018 for the year 2017).
The new law may also encourage small and mid-sized companies who currently offer group health plans to replace them with health insurance premium reimbursements through HRAs, instead. This may prove to be a trend in the future especially if group health insurance premiums continue to increase and if small businesses tire of the administrative burden of providing such plans to a small work force.
If you have any questions about the new law and whether your business might benefit from HRAs, please contact Attorney Amanda E. Prutzman at Eckberg Lammers, P.C. via email at aprutzman@eckberglammers.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


I had the pleasure of attending my first Volunteer Leadership Summit in November 2016. Each year, our chapter sends the incoming President-Elect to attend this event in Washington D.C. I can truly say this was an amazing experience that prepared me well for the President-Elect and President roles.

Upon arrival, our state council welcomed me with open arms, and we spent an evening touring the city and taking in all the beautiful sights and history. During the conference itself, I participated in many breakout sessions according to chapter size, topic of interest, and leadership training sessions. It became apparent, not even halfway through the first day, how much SHRM cares about preparing its leaders to create and maintain successful chapters.

One of the most beneficial parts of the conference was the chapter-size breakout sessions. During these sessions, leaders from around the country exchanged ideas, asked questions, and gave advice to each other. The time spent in these sessions was invaluable as each person truly cared and wanted to help each other succeed.

I remember when I first came on the Board in 2015, I felt very overwhelmed and was unfamiliar with half of the things the Board was discussing. This conference filled in all the blanks for me. From the Keynote speakers, to the breakout sessions, to the leadership trainings, I would recommend the VLS conference for anyone in a SHRM chapter board or leadership position! I am very grateful to be a member of a chapter that sees the value of our board members attending such events!

-Central Wisconsin SHRM
Kelsie Haase
Account Executive
Office: 715.203.8877
Cell: 715.965.0256

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Are Employers Experiencing the Beginning of a Shift in the Regulatory Environment?

There are a number of early indicators that employers may finally see some relief in the burdensome regulatory environment that burgeoned under the Obama administration.
Encouraging signs toward a more business-friendly environment include:
• On 2/15/17, the House passed two resolutions to block the DOL’s rules requiring employers without workplace retirement plans to automatically enroll employees in state- or local-government IRA programs through payroll deductions.

• On 2/15/17, the IRS announced that it would not reject taxpayers’ 2016 tax returns that are missing health coverage information (a requirement put into place under the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate in order to assess penalties against taxpayers who chose not to elect coverage). The IRS indicated the change was due to President Trump’s executive order directing agencies to minimize the ACA’s regulatory burden. While the individual mandate is still technically in place and penalty provisions are allegedly being enforced, this action may be a significant brick in the eventual dismantling of the ACA wall.

• In early February, the House passed on a bipartisan basis (236-187) a SHRM-supported resolution to block the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, also known as the “blacklisting” regulations. The Senate is expected to pass a similar resolution, which needs only a simple majority (51 votes) for passage, and President Trump is expected to sign the resolution into law.

• President Trump ordered reviews of the regulations implementing the Dodd—Frank financial reform law, including a controversial rule that requires certain businesses to disclose the ratio of median worker pay to CEO compensation.

• On 1/30/17, President Trump issued an executive order directing federal agencies to repeal two federal regulations for every new rule they issue.

• On 3/1/17, the House voted block an OSHA rule that would have extended the agency’s authority to issue citations for record-keeping rule violations from six months to about five years.

• Trump announced budget plans which include increased spending in areas such as military and defense spending, and has said that those dollars will come from decreased spending in areas such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
It’s going to be an interesting ride for Human Resources and employers in general over the new few months and years!
By Lynn Scotch, SPAHRA Chapter

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Check out this event!

SAVE THE DATE 4/17/2017 – Employer Branding: How to become an employer of choice to Attract and Retain Talent!

As the talent climate continues to change and become more challenging to recruit and retain, the La Crosse Area Society for Human Resource Management will be hosting a May Symposium focused on employer branding!

Learn how area businesses approach attracting and retaining top talent. You will also learn more about promoting your community, possible community partnerships, and creating a diverse team.

Save the Date for our upcoming Symposium – May 17, 2017!

Check out

Link here

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Advantages of Hiring and Engaging Military Veterans at Your Business

With large numbers of veterans returning from service and looking to start new careers in a challenging economic environment, employers may help veterans transition into civilian careers. Veterans offer a unique set of skills, experiences and leadership abilities developed and honed during their years in the military. Unfortunately, unemployment rates highlight the difficulties returning veterans are facing in their search for new careers. We support the goal of putting veterans on the path to employment so our nation may continue to benefit from all that service members have to offer in their new careers.
There are many programs available to encourage hiring veterans and supplementing your costs during the training phase. These programs are expected to continue because of the large numbers of service men and women that continue to return home from active duty. Today we want to talk about why you might want to consider hiring veterans outside of the direct financial gain through these types of programs. Once engaged in your culture and workplace, veterans can have significant positive impacts on your business.
In general, veterans are known to be:
• Very technical because of accelerated high levels of training/education – these high levels aren’t easily translated into the civilian educational system so it might be easy to underestimate their knowledge and skills.
• Highly disciplined – they are trained to follow regimented schedules and work rules and expect others to do the same.
• Sincerely committed – many veterans look at the workplace with the same level of commitment they made when enlisting in the armed services.
• Able to look at the big picture – when they are serving, they have to be able to rely on themselves to understand the whole situation/piece of equipment and be able to act accordingly.
• Able to work well under pressure and have solid troubleshooting skills – this comes as a result of their training. They are able to take care of many problems themselves because they have no choice in the field.
• Hardworking – they like to dig in and get things done rather than waiting around for others. They may prefer to work alone. They focus on the task at hand and the deadline by which it must be completed. Veterans who are managers are not afraid to step in and help out. They would rather finish early than miss a deadline.
• Quality minded – the military focuses on process improvement all the time. Veterans can be good trainers because they understand the process and strive to make sure others do too. Often times, they understand (or make sure to learn) the manual process of an automated system so they can keep it running if the system that supports it goes down.
• Skilled at driving – in the service, veterans are often called upon to drive heavy equipment and have similar skills to those needed for CDL licenses. For these individuals, less training will be needed to obtain the license necessary to drive heavy equipment and transportation vehicles.
• Attentive to safety – sometimes to the point where they are concerned about doing a task because of fear of injury to themselves or others. They might be the ones to approach management about unsafe conditions that others overlook.
• Highly aware of their surroundings – so they may request to have their workspace changed so they can better evaluate their environment (i.e. they might not like having their back to a doorway). A simple change of work space can improve their comfort level and productivity on the job.
When evaluating a resume from a Veteran, you may want to ask them to explain various acronyms and how they translate into the civilian workplace. You can also cross reference their skills and find matching civilian positions on http://www.Onetonline.org
Employers may be concerned that veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as this can be common among veterans. It doesn’t have to be a deterrent to hiring. This is where you might find individuals who prefer to work alone and stay out of office politics/gossip. Many prefer to do a hard day’s work and then go home to their “safety zone”. They have a heightened awareness of what is going on around them. Someone might drop and roll if they hear a firecracker. On their way back up, they are fully assessing their surroundings and identifying the nearest exit. This type of reaction doesn’t have to be a barrier to employment and with the ongoing threat of workplace violence in our society today, perhaps this keen awareness and quick response could be an asset to an organization.
If your organization is interested in finding and hiring qualified veterans, contact your local Workforce Development Center or Job Service office to locate your Veteran’s Services Representative. They will explain programs/funding available for On the Job Training and help you connect to veterans who are actively seeking jobs. There are also programs available for veterans with troubled pasts that are ready to join the workforce.
Tim Flatley, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve http://www.esgr.mil
Anthony First, Division of Employment & Training/Office of Veterans Services http://www.jobcenterofwi.com
Prudential Insurance – Veterans’ Employment Challenges – Perceptions and experiences of transitioning from military to civilian life http://www.prudential.com/veterans
Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and their Families – The Business Case for Hiring a Veteran Beyond the Clichés https://ivmf.syracuse.edu/article/the-business-case-for-hiring-a-veteran-beyond-the-cliches/


-From SRKA SHRM Chapter

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2017 WI SHRM State Conference Keynote Announced – Jason Hewlett

jason-hewlettThe Wisconsin State SHRM Council is excited to welcome Jason Hewlett as the third keynote speaker for the 2017 WI SHRM State Conference being held at the Kalahari Resort & Convention Center in the Wisconsin Dells, October 11-13.

Having delivered hundreds of presentations for front-line and leadership motivation, Jason Hewlett combines message, authenticity, humor, music, and impersonations.
His talk feels like a show with a message, or a keynote speech with entertainment. Few presenters can match the level of laughs, energy and appropriate material for any audience.
Jason is the author of the Facebook post entitled, “I Saw My Wife at Target Today”, which has been seen by more than 100 million people. A recent, and one of the youngest inductees into the Speakers Hall of Fame, his talks address goal setting and the engagement experience, from the perspective of a Promise.

Check out Jason in action here

Follow Jason on Twitter here
Connect with Jason on LinkedIn here
Follow Jason on Facebook here

More information about the WI SHRM State Conference can be found here
Follow the 2017 WI SHRM State Conference on Twitter and use the hashtag #wishrm17
Follow the 2017 WI SHRM State Conference on Facebook

Posted in Conference, WI SHRM | Tagged | Leave a comment

Check out our March 2017 Events!

Spring is nearly here!  Tax time, we had all 4 seasons the last week in WI, let’s keep moving forward with Spring!

Not sure which chapter is nearest you?  Take a look at WISHRM’s Local Chapters page for more information.

March 3 Sole Practioner Networking Group Meeting Eau Claire, Chippewa Valley SHRM

March 8 –FMLA/STD/ADA Update– Beaver Dam, SHRM – Dodge County

March 8 – FMLA– Oshkosh, Oshkosh Area SHRM

March 9-HR Undercover-Wausau, Central WI SHRM

March 14-Making Millennials Great-Beloit, Blackhawk HR Association

March 14 – Influential Leadership – Fort Atkinson, Jefferson Co HR Management

March 15 – President Lincoln: Social Media Genius – La Crosse, La Crosse Area SHRM

March 15 –7 Habits for Managers-Green Bay, Green Bay Area SHRM

March 16 – Drugs in the workplace– Sheboygan, Sheboygan Area – SHRM

March 21-Leadership & Strategy: The key to fitting the strategy into HR – More info to come SCVEA

March 21- Employee Benefit Planning Innovations – Kimberly, Fox Valley SHRM

March 21- GMA SHRM Professional Summit-Madison, GMA SHRM

March 22-Monthly Meeting-Manitowoc, LAHRA

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2017 WI SHRM State Conference Keynote Announced – Josh Bleill


The Wisconsin State SHRM Council is excited to welcome Josh Bleill as the next keynote speaker for the 2017 WI SHRM State Conference being held at the Kalahari Resort & Convention Center in the Wisconsin Dells, October 11-13.

Josh Bleill describes himself as follows: “I’m a father, I’m a husband, I’m a Christian, I’m a spokesperson, I’m a Marine.”

After attending Purdue University, Josh was working in corporate America when, like many of us, the events of September 11, 2001, changed his life forever. Something clicked inside him after that fateful day and, two years later, Josh followed in his father’s footsteps and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. In 2004, at 27 years old, Josh was off to boot camp. And in 2006, he was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq.

Then, it all went black.

A bomb exploded under the vehicle Josh was riding in. He woke up five days later to the realization that he had lost two friends and both of his legs in the blast. He spent two years of extensive rehabilitation recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. He currently has 32 pins in his hip and a 6-inch screw holding his pelvis together.

Corporal Josh Bleill is now a walking, talking, symbol of hope, using his story to motivate and inspire others. Even with all he’s been through, Josh doesn’t just believe in the American dream. He’s living it.

“It worked out. I’m not going to lie. I worked in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts. I travel and do public speaking. The American dream is very possible. Even after something like this, so devastating that I thought things were over, it still worked out,” he said.
“In America, if you keep working and things do go wrong, if you have that drive, it’s well alive. It’s always a possibility.” Josh didn’t just survive. With the help of those around him, he found a way to thrive once again.

Josh shares his story here

More information about the WI SHRM State Conference can be found here
Follow the 2017 WI SHRM State Conference on Twitter and use the hashtag #wishrm17
Follow the 2017 WI SHRM State Conference on Facebook

Posted in Conference, WI SHRM | Tagged | Leave a comment

2017 WI SHRM State Conference Keynote Announced – Avish Parashar


The Wisconsin State SHRM Council is excited to welcome Avish Parashar as the next keynote speaker for the 2017 WI SHRM State Conference being held at the Kalahari Resort & Convention Center in the Wisconsin Dells, October 11-13.

Avish Parashar is a funny motivational keynote speaker whose programs are a unique blend of humor, content, and interaction that makes the information relevant, engaging, and memorable.

“Avish is that rare breed of speaker that is able to use personal material but craft it in a way that is relevant and has a powerful message for the audience. He’s the perfect balance of practical content and dynamic entertainment!”
-Chip Lutz, Conference Chair, AATH Annual Conference

As a motivational keynote speaker, Avish energizes, inspires, and entertains his audiences while giving them the tools to respond to three critical challenges:

  1. The world is changing faster than ever, and people often get “stuck in the past,” resisting and complaining about change instead of embracing it and moving forward.
  2. Workload increases while resources decrease, leading to the tremendous stress and overwhelm of constantly being asked to do more and more with less and less.
  3. Communicating with other people (customers, prospects, and other employees) who are difficult, different from us, or who respond to us in unexpected ways leads to stress, conflict, and missed opportunities.

Check out Avish in action here

Follow Avish on Twitter here
Connect With Avish on LinkedIn here
Follow Avish on Facebook here

More information about the WI SHRM State Conference can be found here
Follow the 2017 WI SHRM State Conference on Twitter and use the hashtag #wishrm17
Follow the 2017 WI SHRM State Conference on Facebook

Posted in Conference, Uncategorized, WI SHRM | Tagged | Leave a comment

February Events 2017!

Its almost spring and tax time!  Check out some of the events around the state happening this month!



February 3 – Coffee and Conversations– Eau Claire, Chippewa Valley SHRM

February 3-CVSHRM-Eu Claire, Chippewa Valley SHRM

February 7-Three P’s of Successful Recruiting-New Richmond, SCVEA

February 8 – Legal Updates: New Developments, Trends and things you need to know – Beaver Dam, SHRM – Dodge County

February 8 – Best Practices in measuring and driving employment engagement– Oshkosh, Oshkosh Area SHRM

February 9 – Mentoring: Are you ready to grow people? – Wausau, West Central WI SHRM

February 14-Crisis Management and Planning. Is your Business prepared?-Beloit, Blackhawk HR Association

February 14 – Linked In for Recruiting and Careers in HR – Manitowoc, Jefferson Co HR Management

February 15 – Employee Engagement – La Crosse, La Crosse Area SHRM

February 15 –Pre-Employment Background Checks, the Fair Credit Reporting Act AND Active Shooter Response-Green Bay, Green Bay Area SHRM

February 16 – OSHA Update– Sheboygan, Sheboygan Area – SHRM


February 21 – Stragegies to help employers & employees cut costs in healthcare spending – Milwaukee, Metro Milwaukee SHRM

February 21- Annual Labor and Employment Law Update – Kimberly, Fox Valley SHRM

February 22-Monthly Meeting-Manitowoc, LAHRA

February 23- GMA Networking Night-Verona, GMA SHRM

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment