Don’t have a ben­e­fits ad­min? BernieHR aims to help

The a la carte pro­gram aims to keep small busi­nesses com­pli­ant while serv­ing the ben­e­fit needs of the work­force

Employee Benefit News - - CONTENTS - BY PHIL AL­BI­NUS

The a la carte pro­gram works to keep small busi­nesses com­pli­ant while serv­ing the ben­e­fit needs of the work­force.

For smaller to mid-sized com­pa­nies that may not have a ded­i­cated ben­e­fits or HR ex­ec­u­tive, Bernard Health has re­leased BernieHR, a cloud-based tool that pro­vides com­pli­ance, HR re­port­ing, new hire on­board­ing and other em­ployee ben­e­fit ser­vices on an a la carte ba­sis.

The ben­e­fit bro­ker­age and tech­nol­ogy provider un­veiled the tool this sum­mer, which works much like BerniePor­tal, its full scale ben­e­fits and HR ad­min­is­tra­tion plat­form.

Like BerniePor­tal, BernieHR is an SaaS tool that helps em­ploy­ers up­date their em­ployee doc­u­men­ta­tion, es- tab­lish pro­ce­dures and keep com­pli­ant with state and fed­eral reg­u­la­tions like the Af­ford­able Care Act and other reg­u­la­tory man­dates through­out the lifecycle of an em­ployee. Em­ploy­ers can choose which ser­vices they need and can up­grade as the com­plex­ity of their re­quests emerge.

Keep­ing firms in com­pli­ance — ei­ther via on­line tools and through calls to a help desk — is a key fo­cus of BernieHR.

“There are over 82 dif­fer­ent fed­eral or state com­pli­ance re­quire­ments that com­pa­nies need to keep up with, and it’s just hard. We’ve de­vel­oped BernieHR to try and meet em­ploy­ers where they’re at,” says Brian Tol­bert, em­ployee ben­e­fits prac­tice leader at Bernard Health.

BernieHR is de­signed to cover the HR and em­ployee ben­e­fit needs of firms with two to 500 em­ploy­ees from an em­ployee’s first day of em­ploy­ment up un­til the day they leave or re­tire. The tool helps with file ad­min­is­tra­tion, gen­eral HR ques­tions and sup­port, ACA and other forms of com­pli­ance, time-off man­age­ment, and pay­roll so­lu­tions.

It also ad­dresses a com­mon prob­lem among HR pro­fes­sion­als: up­dat­ing the em­ployee hand­book. Ac­cord­ing to Tol­bert, firms are no­to­ri­ously slow to re­fresh their em­ployee hand­books, of­ten wait­ing un­til a cri­sis has passed be­fore a new edi­tion is ap­proved and re­leased to work­ers.

“For the ma­jor­ity of em­ploy­ers, the last time they up­dated their hand­book was the last time they had a le­gal claim against them. That could have been 15 years ago,” Tol­bert says.

BernieHR also fo­cuses on em­ploy­ers with a work­force in mul­ti­ple states that may have con­flict­ing em­ploy­ment re­quire­ments and statutes.

“Le­gal com­pli­ance is one of the big­gest pieces of the en­tire of­fer­ing. We’re guid­ing multi-state em­ploy­ers through that process,” says Re­bekah Michel, who leads the BernieHR di­vi­sion.

“It’s not easy for those com­pa­nies to talk with their em­ploy­ees about th­ese rules. The whole point of BernieHR is to make that com­plex­ity sim­ple for them,” she says.

BernieHR pro­vides com­pli­ance guide­lines for ma­ter­nity leave and how it in­ter­acts with short-term dis­abil­ity reg­u­la­tions so that CEOs or CFOs of a small busi­ness can avoid mis­takes when deal­ing with new moth­ers as they re­turn to work. Tol­bert says em­ploy­ers who have a pa­ter­nal­is­tic re­la­tion­ship with em­ploy­ees may over­step their bounds and be­come in­volved in ar­eas that are not their le­gal con­cern.

If they do, “guess what — they just got them­selves into a com­pli­ance sit­u­a­tion, be­cause you can­not pres­sure that new mother back to work sooner than she’s ready,” she says.

Em­ploy­ers can sub­scribe to one of two tiers of BernieHR Help Desk sup­port where they can re­ceive an­swers to rou­tine or com­plex HR ques­tions. Tol­bert says this “is meant to pro­vide an ex­tra layer be­tween that con­cerned busi­ness owner and their em­ployee so when that ques­tion comes in, BernieHR can say, ‘This is re­ally a ques­tion that needs to be dis­cussed be­tween your in­sur­ance com­pany and the em­ployee’s doc­tor. The em­ployer re­ally can­not get in­volved.’”

Bernard Health has a bro­ker­age pres­ence in Nashville, In­di­anapo­lis, Austin and At­lanta.

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