Student Loan Solutions

studentloansWith student loan debt topping the list of concerns for so many young workers, more and more employers are looking for ways to help. While several large employers are doing things to help them reduce principal and save on interest, one large employer is allowing employees to trade up to 5 vacation days for a payment on their debt. In their program, a person earning $50,000 annually could receive a principal payment of nearly $1,000. The Society of Human Resource Management reports that 4% of employers are offering a student loan repayment benefit of some kind.

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Group Exercise is Big

The College of Sports Medicine, in ranking fitness trends for 2019, concluded that millennials enjoy being part of a community that will cheer them on when they do a good job and perhaps push them a bit harder when they don’t. Other popular fitness trends include wearable technology, high intensity interval training (HIIT), yoga and more personalized exercise programs designed specifically for members of the baby boomer generation.

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How Will You Celebrate National Employee Health & Fitness Day?

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Wednesday, May 15th is National Employee Health & Fitness Day and it’s a great opportunity to remind your employees about the importance and benefits of regular exercise!

Exercise has been linked to numerous benefits, such as reducing your risk for chronic health issues like heart disease, diabetes, depression and several types of cancer.

And yet millions of Americans fall short of meeting their daily recommended guidelines; despite the fact that it can be a significant factor with impacting medical expenses. In fact, a 2016 study published by “The Lancet” determined that individuals who participated in a 30-minute walk at least 5 days a week on average spent $2,500 less in annual medical-related expenses than those who didn’t.

So, what can be done? Use this opportunity to kick-start some new wellness initiatives. Start by expressing that this is being implemented because you care about your employees and make it an opportunity to celebrate good health. Instead of providing a pizza party, maybe mix it up with food from a place that offers sandwiches on whole wheat bread or wraps with lean protein options (such as chicken, turkey or even vegetarian options), salads and even fruit in place of cookies. Or you could organize a company-wide walk. As we mentioned before, a 30-minute walk can go a long way and by making time for it, you’re showing employees that it is a priority. Even starting small, with leading a 2-minute midday stretching break can be a small change that eventually leads to a big impact.

The bottom line? Consistent exercise and other healthy habits can save companies millions of dollars in healthcare expenditures. Yet it seems to be one of the hardest habits to make. And since people often spend 40+ hours of their week at work, it’s a great place to also encourage more regular participation. In can be a win-win benefit for both the individual and the company.

Share your plans to celebrate! Send Corporate Fitness & Health your National Employee Health & Fitness Day plans and they will send you a shout out on their social media pages! Email your stories and pictures to kcalverase@cfandh.com.

The Diversified Group family of companies includes Corporate Fitness & Health. If you’re looking for a workplace wellness program that you’ll be excited to invest in, one that can help you reduce healthcare costs and help employees avoid elevated health risks, then it’s time you learned about CF&H. With over 30 years of experience, CF&H can help your organization implement a wellness program that will keep your employees happy, healthy and engaged.

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Get Set to Run & Join Us in Supporting Camphill Village on May 18th

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Diversified is proud to sponsor the Camphill Village 5K Trail & Fun Run coming up on Saturday, May 18th! If you’d like to participate, there are three running options that allow people of all abilities to join from virtually anywhere!

  • Sign up to run from home or anywhere; just be sure to take to Facebook and Instagram to share photos and your reason for participating leading up to and during the run. Use the hashtag #Camphill5K and your posts will be featured on their website and social media. If you send your address, they will also send you a gift from their event to show their thanks.
  • Sponsor a runner or sign up to personally run the 5K Trail Run through the Camphill Village scenic woods and pathways.
  • Sponsor a participant or sign up to leisurely walk, jog or stroll around Ring Road at the Village in the Fun Run. (Kids 12 & under run the Fun Run for free!)

With these options, it’s easy to support this wonderful cause. Through sponsorships, donations and registrations, this 5K and Fun Run will help to provide the programs and services that make Camphill Village the very special place it is for adults with special needs.

Diversified Group is proud to support this event that attracts virtual runners from all over the country and has raised more than $40,000 to benefit the lives of people who call Camphill Village their home.

To register, click below to visit the website and go to Runner Sign Up.

More About Camphill Village

Camphill Village in upstate New York is 615 acres of wooded hills, gardens and pastures. Adults with special needs and long- and short-term service volunteers live and work together as equals in extended family homes throughout the area. We are a non-profit organization dedicated to our mission of being an integrated community where people with developmental differences are living a life of dignity, equality and purpose. Through sponsorships, donations and registrations, this 5K and Fun Run will help to provide the programs and services that make Camphill Village the very special place it is for adults with special needs.

DOL’s Recent Clarification Surrounding FMLA

Page with FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) on the table with stethoscope, medical concept

The Department of Labor (DOL) on occasion will issue opinion letters to clarify employer’s obligations under various federal employment laws. These DOL opinion letters help employers to understand their obligations and can be relied upon to establish a “good faith” defense against certain federal claims.

On March 14, 2019, the DOL issued an opinion letter regarding FMLA leave and its coordination with other employer leave provisions. The DOL clarified that if an employee’s leave taken for medical reasons is deemed FMLA qualified, the employer must then designate the leave as FMLA leave within five business days and may not delay such designation even to accommodate or benefit its employee. In other words, if an employee requests to take paid PTO leave and delay the designation of qualified FMLA leave until after the paid PTO is exhausted, per this opinion letter, once an eligible employee communicates a need to take leave for a qualified FMLA reason, neither the employer nor the employee may decline FMLA protection for that leave. Thus, when an employer deems that leave is for a qualified FMLA reason, the leave counts toward the employee’s FMLA leave entitlement.

The employer may instead allow the employee to “stack” the FMLA leave and paid leave by allowing the employee to take the FMLA leave unpaid and to use any available paid leave upon exhaustion of the FMLA entitlement. Alternatively, the employer may require employees to utilize available paid leave concurrently with FMLA leave, thus paid leave counts toward the FMLA leave entitlement, and vice versa.

Employers should review applicable state leave laws that may offer additional or different benefits that may cause the DOL opinion letter to contradict existing precedent. For example, this opinion letter contradicts the 2014 Ninth Circuit Court’s case Escriba v Foster Poultry Farms, Inc. which found that an employee could affirmatively decline to exercise their FMLA rights, even when they clearly would have qualified, in order to preserve the FMLA rights for future use. Those employers in the Ninth Circuit jurisdiction (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington) may want to consult their legal counsel prior to relying on this opinion letter.

It is intended for Diversified Group’s medical plan document language to correspond with an employer’s human resource practices. Our documents typically include language that FMLA will run concurrently with other leaves in compliance with the DOL’s intent. To ensure that your medical plan document and your HR practices are coordinated, we offer a gap analysis which looks at gaps between your plan document and your employee handbook with an eye to ensuring compliance with your plan document and your stop loss carrier’s requirements. Gap analysis is done at no cost to you. If you are interested in having a gap analysis completed, please contact either Dave Follansbee or Laura Williams at the contact information below.

Dave Follansbee – dfollansbee@diversifiedgb.com / 860-295-6531
Laura Williams – lwilliams@diversifiedgb.com / 860-612-8644

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Tracking Sleep

mobile phoneIn order to address a sleep shortage that is hurting productivity for U.S. businesses, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has introduced an online wellness program to help employees track the quantity and quality of their sleep. Employees log their time online or upload data from a fitness tracker such as a Fitbit. With the CDC linking sleep to chronic illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and depression, researchers hope to help employees set a goal and improve the quality of their sleep.

Corporate Fitness & Health

Apple Watch & Joint Replacement

Technology giant Apple reported recently that thousands of hip and knee replacement patients are using Apple Watches and a new health app, MyMobility from Zimmer Biomet, to share health data with their surgeons during treatment and recovery. The app is being used to provide physicians with data about the patient’s heart rate, number of steps taken and time spent standing continuously, rather than having to rely on traditional in-person visits.

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