Introducing MedCon Connect

Your benefits consultants at MedCon Benefit Systems are excited to introduce a new comprehensive set of resources to our clients through our new client portal, MedCon Connect. Designed to provide you with time-saving tools and resources, MedCon Connect is a convenient, easy-to-use tool that enables you to manage your everyday tasks in the workplace. MedCon Connect allows you to:

  • Collaborate with our agency via the internet.
  • Quickly access timely news, information, and resources.
  • Connect with hundreds of thousands of peers in your industry.

If tackling your compliance with some of today’s most complicated legislation seems daunting, find clear, easily accessible answers with our set of comprehensive guides, frequently asked questions, quick reference and up-to-date briefs on salient topics including Health Care Reform, ADA, CHIPRA, COBRA, FMLA, HIPAA, HIPAA Privacy, Mental Health Parity, Section 125, Medicare Part D and more. In just a few clicks, access the following popular resources:

  • Health Care Reform – Find up-to-date information, including legislative updates, timelines and explanations to educate both you and your employees.
  • Questions and Answers – Resolve your doubts about federal legislation with daily questions and answers on popular, current legislative topics.
  • Legislative News – Educate yourself with updated benefits information on any specific legislative category, including COBRA, COBRA State, HIPAA, HIPPA Privacy and FMLA topics.
  • Compliance Forms – Choose election forms, eligibility forms and other general forms related to COBRA, HIPAA, FMLA and more. All forms can be downloaded in PDF or Word format, and many are available in Spanish.
  • Quick Links to Compliance – Find a comprehensive list of links to external government resources to help with compliance issues. Instead of spending hours searching the web for answers to your compliance questions and wondering which version is correct, you can now find your answers by category, directly from the government websites.

Clients will also have access to an extensive library featuring both employee-facing and informational documents for employers which allow you to quickly and effortlessly resolve a host of human resources and insurance-related issues. Find articles, brochures, forms, reports and more regarding:

  • Plan Design
  • Employee Newsletters
  • Wellness Programs

As our client, you have probably heard from us about the impact a health and wellness program can have on your overall health plan costs. MedCon Connect provides clients with an on-demand content library – communications promoting wellness and consumerism are pre-written and ready to distribute, saving you time and money. If you have never initiated a wellness program before, we have guides to get you started as well as research data to help you drive wellness initiatives and methods to evaluate your outcomes.

The nationwide benchmarking surveys administered through and available on MedCon Connect give insight into best practices across the industry. We are also connecting you with other HR professionals throughout the country via the Community Tab. MedCon Connect users have the ability to share industry-specific information and resources through an interactive forum that allows you to post questions to your peers, provide insight into others’ questions and share best practices.

Staying in compliance with OSHA is a snap with the practical and easily accessible collection of occupational safety resources you’ll find on MedCon Connect, including:

  • Compliance and FAQ – Information and answers regarding OSHA’s record-keeping guidelines, coupled with various related resources.
  • Instant OSHA Reporting – Generate up-to-the-minute OSHA reports and drill down by injury type, body part, group or division to identify trends and cost drivers.
  • Custom OSHA Forms – Generate a PDF with your OSHA 200 Log or Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses for a certain division or year.
  • Easy OSHA Log Maintenance – Edit, view and delete log entries quickly and easily with the log maintenance wizard, which makes maintenance simple and guarantees that your records are current.
  • View Recent Incidents – Stay on top of your company’s workplace safety with the online log’s handy at-a-glance view.

This is just another valuable tool we are proud offer to our clients. We encourage all of our clients to login to MedCon Connect by clicking here or using the link on the right-hand side of your screen on our home page. If you have not yet received your login information, please contact Maureen McReynolds: mmcreynolds@medconbenefit.com. We are looking forward to visiting with you and providing training on how to use this invaluable new tool.

FMLA Part III: Notice and Certification

Eligible employees using FMLA leave must provide a 30-day advance notice to take FMLA leave when the need is foreseeable, otherwise notice is to be provided as soon as practicable. An adequate amount of information must be provided in order for the employer to determine whether the FMLA applies to the leave request. If the employee is applying for FMLA leave for the first time, the employee is not required to assert FMLA rights or even mention the FMLA. If the employee has previously been provided FMLA-protected leave, the employee must specify the qualifying reason or need for FMLA leave.

As an employer, you have some important responsibilities in order to remain compliant and avoid costly fees. A notice approved by the Secretary of Labor explaining rights and responsibilities under FMLA must be posted and included in the employee handbook or written guidance concerning employee benefits. The FMLA poster provided by the Department of Labor here is available for use by employers.

Once the employee requests FMLA leave or it is determined the leave is for FMLA purpose, the employer is responsible for notifying the employee of the rights and responsibilities under the FMLA and explain that the leave will be designated and counted as FMLA leave. Optional forms WH-381 and WH-382 are also provided on the Department of Labor website for employer use.

Employers can require certification from a health care provider when FMLA leave is requested, as well as a certification that they are fit to resume work upon their return. The Department of Labor has also provided forms WH-380E and WH-380F for employer use regarding certification.

As always, along with our sister company, ERA, we welcome the opportunity to assist you with any of your compliance needs. Please do not hesitate to contact us to find out how we can be of valuable service to you.

*This article is intended to provide general guidance and should not be considered legal advice.

FMLA Part II: Leave Entitlement

According to the United States Department of Labor, employees who are eligible under FMLA may take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during a 12 month period due to one or more of the following reasons:

  • For the birth and care of a newborn child of the employee
  • For the placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care
  • To care for a spouse, son, daughter or parent with a serious health condition
  • To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition
  • For qualifying exigencies arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter or parent is on active duty or call to active duty status as a member of the National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation

A serious health condition is defined as an illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider for a condition that prevents the employee or the qualified family member from performing the functions of their job. Employees can also take leave in blocks on a “reduced leave schedule” when medically necessary with reasonable efforts to schedule the leave so as not to disrupt the employer’s operations. Additionally, during FMLA leave, the employer must maintain the employee’s health coverage under any group health plan on the same terms as if the employee had continued to work. When the employee returns to work, they are to be restored their original job, or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment.

To view the full code of federal regulations regarding the FMLA, please click here.

The final post in the series will discuss appropriate notice and certification under FMLA.

*This article is intended to provide general guidance and should not be considered legal advice.

FMLA Part I: Who Is Eligible?

During our many years of service to our clients, the regulation that brings the most questions is the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In a concentrated effort to answer questions and bring clarity to the Act, we are going to divide the FMLA information into three distinct parts and actually give you links to appropriate forms directly from the Department of Labor website.

The FMLA allows employees to take up to 12 work weeks, consecutive or intermittent, depending on the circumstances, unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for specified family and medical reasons. Employees are eligible if they:

  • Work for a covered employer
  • Have worked for the employer for a total of 12 months
  • Have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months
  • Work in the United States where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.

There are a few exceptions related to military service. If an employee had a break in service during the 12 month employment requirement or 1,250 hour requirement due to fulfillment of the employee’s National Guard or Reserve military service obligation, the time performing the military services counts in determining whether the employee has been employed for at least 12 months or 1,250 hours. Additionally, there are military family leave entitlements, including military caregiver leave and qualifying exigency leave. Military caregiver leave allows eligible employees up to to 26 weeks (in a single 12 month period) unpaid leave to care for a service member with a serious illness or injury that is the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin. To find out more details on military caregiver leave and what is classified as a “qualifying exigency,” click here to be directed to the Department of Labor website.

Our next post in the series will discuss leave entitlement.

*This article is intended to provide general guidance and should not be considered legal advice.

Maximize Your Employee Benefits Program

With the economic recovery continuing to be slow and companies under pressure to overcome a number of challenges, the employee benefits landscape is continuing to change. Rising healthcare costs, new mandates of reform and economic influences are just some of the reasons employees are looking for solutions for the highest potential return on investment. Here are some tips from our benefit professionals on how to maximize your investments.
1. Work with a benefits  consultant / advisor who can help you design a “healthcare reform” strategy that includes a consumer directed approach with financial protection.
2. Get the best overall value and experience by partnering with those who can provide expertise and experience in delivering both self funded and employer funded benefits as well as voluntary benefits.
3. Engage your consultant to maximize the value of your benefits by meeting the financial protection needs of your various workforce diversities. Offer a range of benefit choices and include effective benefits education for your employees.
4. Optimize your ROI with helpful services such as employee assistance programs, helpful management of absences from FMLA and various state laws to streamlining HR time with benefits administration and technology solutions. Consider outsourcing services to our sister company, Employee Resource Administration, to help with all of your non-revenue producing functions.