Considering whether or not to partner with an employee benefits advisor?
For many medium-sized companies, it can become a struggle to manage your total compensation packages on your own.
So how can an advisor help you?
This article will help you better understand what an employee benefits advisor does. We’ll also outline specific complex areas where advisors can provide the most value.
How Can a Benefits Advisor Help Your Business?
So why should you work with an advisor, instead of directly with an insurer?
The answer is simple: An advisor provides expert advice you can access at any time.
An advisor develops a personal relationship with you. He or she gets to know your business and goals, and then provides services that extend far beyond a benefits plan.
There are three key areas in which an advisor can offer invaluable support to businesses:
Education and advice
Let’s look more closely at each one.
Most small businesses don’t employ an in-house benefits administrator. So an employee benefits advisor can act as an extension of your management team.
They’ll help ensure your plan is implemented and managed properly on a day-to-day basis. They can also provide education sessions to your staff, so your team can fully appreciate the benefits your company has put in place.
An advisor is a specialist in their field, which means they can take care of your plan, while you focus on what you do best—running the business. Advisors also play an important role in providing unbiased analysis. They know how to match you with an insurer that will meet your needs and expectations.
You can think of an advisor as an extension of your organization. A well-informed advisor will provide tremendous value by helping you avoid the common pitfalls of administering a plan. They’ll introduce processes that will help you avoid problematic errors that can result in real consequences for your business and employees. The most common of these errors are:
Determination of eligibility
It’s vitally important that all employees who are eligible to join the benefits plan, do so. This will help you avoid potential liabilities. For example, forgetting to enrol a team member who then heads off on vacation, has an accident, and incurs large medical bills could be very costly for you.
Equally important is to ensure that, where appropriate, coverage continues or ends on the correct date for employees who are:
being terminated, or
It’s not uncommon for employees to express frustration when an extended health or dental claim isn’t paid correctly. The service team at an employee benefits advisory firm can investigate the cause—saving you time and headaches.
Sometimes complex issues, such as out-of-country claims or speciality drug prescriptions, require assistance. Disability and life insurance claims are emotionally difficult, and the claims process is often unfamiliar. These are all excellent times to rely on the experience and expertise of a benefits advisor.
Education and Advice
Insurers don’t normally provide advice beyond the design and performance of their plan. Therefore, advisors play a pivotal role in keeping businesses informed on all things related to their total compensation package.
This can involve synchronizing your plan with other resources at your disposal, for example government programs like EI. Advisors can also connect with a variety of other professionals, including HR, business consulting, and legal. These connections mean advisors can provide an informed opinion on a variety of issues.
Businesses often need advice that extends beyond the nuts and bolts that form a benefit plan. The right advisor will be proactive in identifying those needs, and help you find solutions.
Here are some common complex situations an advisor can help you with:
Understanding long term disability and the EI SUB program
Many employers are unaware of the EI Supplemental Unemployment Benefit. The EI SUB program allows you to provide an employee with supplementary income while they’re waiting to become eligible for long term disability.
Employers might run into uncertainty or confusion on who is eligible for this benefit, how much to pay out, and how long benefits are payable for. An advisor can help you navigate this path successfully.
Protecting your company when terminating an employee
Advisors can also help with another complex area: employee terminations.
While you have the right to terminate an employee with or without cause, you need to follow certain guidelines. If you don’t, you could face potential litigation. This is especially true if there’s a pending disability claim, or hidden issue that could lead to a Human Rights complaint.
For information on how to terminate an employee correctly, see our blog, An Employer’s Guide to the Employee Termination Process.
Understanding parental leave laws
It’s critical that employers are aware of laws that protect the rights of new parents.
If you miss something important, or otherwise make a mistake, you could face costly litigation and a loss of company reputation.
A well-informed advisor will:
advise you on the regulations related to benefits while on leave
help ensure employees on parental leave are protected and taken care of
help you with onboarding the employee when they return to work
Navigating HR and legal issues
The laws are always changing. Employers already have enough to do, so understanding the intricacies of every single change can be overwhelming.
For example, at the beginning of 2019, government introduced two new changes:
BC Employer Health Tax
Canada Pension Plan Increase
We put together the following two blogs to provide some helpful details about these new laws:
A well-informed advisor is a valuable partner for a variety of HR and legal issues. Staying on top of laws and regulations is part of what they do best.
For example, here at Montridge, we regularly update our clients on legislative and plan design changes that affect their businesses and employees.
Thanks to the regular contact we enjoy with our clients, we’re also in a position to identify, and help with key human resource or employment law issues. Our clients regularly benefit from our strategic alliances with HR consultants, tax accountants, and business and employment lawyers.
Designing executive benefits plans
Executive benefit plans can be a tricky area. Since executives have a huge influence on the overall health of the company, it’s essential to compensate them properly.
An employee benefits advisor knows what executives want. They can craft a plan that both meets the executive’s expectations, and is within the company’s budget. They’ll help you manage the complexity of executive compensation so you can better recruit, reward, and retain these high-value employees.
You can learn more about executive compensation in our blog: How to Build a First Rate Executive Compensation Plan.
Working with an employee benefits advisor can offer invaluable support to businesses, including:
protecting your business from potential liabilities
helping you navigate complex issues
helping with administration
The result? You’ll have a sustainable benefits offering that will help you attract and retain top talent. And you’ll have the support you need behind the scenes, so you can focus on running your business.