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
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.