Employee Benefits That are Required By Federal Law

Employee benefits and tax laws go hand in hand. It's believed that the major turning point in modern employee benefits as we know them was during World War II. Since employers were unable to attract employees because of their inability to raise salaries, they used benefits programs as a substitute for increasing salaries, from healthcare to contribution plans. While World War II is responsible for a drastic growth in benefit plans and programs, they were actually in effect many decades before. It seems that employee benefits have held a lot of importance for legislators, unions, workers, and politicians. New business owners may face the predicament of not being able to afford employee benefits or not knowing them all. To help you wrap your head around the employee benefits required by federal law, we've created a brief overview that should point you in the right direction.

1. Workers' Compensation Insurance

Businesses are required by the law to have workers compensation insurance, which allows a business to be able to withstand many different unfortunate situations.

  • Injured employees are covered by insurance, which means medical expenses for employees who are involved with work-related accidents are covered.
  • The business state laws may also have additional requirements that the workers' compensation providers.
  • Lost wages that the employee suffers from the accident are covered, but the percentage may differ according to the state.
  • The legal fees that are associated with negligence-based injuries can be covered.
  • Death benefits to the beneficiary of the worker if they suffered an injury that resulted in their death.

Employers are mandated to provide compensation for personal injuries that occur during work. It's very important for employees to be aware of their rights in some cases, as insurance companies may not fulfill their end of the deal every time. If you live in North Carolina or anywhere else in the U.S., you can find out more about this process by consulting with a workers' compensation lawyer in your state. A seasoned lawyer can help you in every step of the way to file a claim and reclaim your employee benefits.

2. Unemployment Benefits

Both the federal and state governments are responsible for the unemployment benefits program since it's a joint initiative made to combat the financial problems of unemployment. Workers who are trying to find employment but to no avail get to receive cash stipends from the government. The Federal Unemployment Tax Act and other state-based agencies provide direct compensation to unemployed workers. Even though unemployment benefits have federal outlines that apply to all states, every state has slightly different benefits or rules. It's directly supervised by the U.S. Department of Labor to ensure the compliance of every single state with the program.

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation is a program designed to handle emergencies like the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It can be seen in action as millions of Americans were directly affected by the pandemic, causing them to go unemployed amidst waves of chaos. It's a recent program that increases the unemployment benefits; $2 trillion were signed by the president as an emergency stimulus package to provide Americans with a safety net during the massive waves of unemployment caused by the economic shock made by the pandemic.

3. Social Security Tax

Employees and employers are both required by federal law to pay social security tax, which is used to fund social security programs. It's a tax that's directly applied on payroll, governed by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act. Freelancers and self-employed workers have their social security tax mandated by the Self-Employed Contributions Act. This tax is responsible for supporting millions of Americans who depend on the benefits provided with retirement, disability, and veteran survivorship; the official name for the program is Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Program. Employers are responsible for withholding the social security tax from the payrolls of their employees, directly forwarding it to the federal government. The Social Security tax in 2020 is 12.4%; half paid by the employers and the other by the employees.

4. COBRA Health Benefits

When a worker leaves their job or gets fired, a federal law called COBRA ensures that the employee still has health insurance coverage. COBRA is short for the Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act, passed 20 years ago by Congress. It's quite useful in providing families with a safety net for the families of the employee. Even though the employee still pays for the full medical price instead of their employer, it still gives a chance to the unemployed worker to purchase health insurance coverage on their own without the ridiculous premiums that plague the conditions of unemployment.

Employee benefits are great aids to workers in every state. The security provided by such benefits helps employees prepare for times of hardships, in addition to providing their families with medical and financial safety nets. Even though all states share the same employee benefits federal laws, there are many variances between them, so be sure to check your state laws and regulations for the most accurate information.

3 min read

Help! My Friend Is a No Show

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Help! My Friend Is a No Show

Dear Armchair Psychologist,

I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.


Dear Sadsies,

I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.

I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!

- The Armchair Psychologist

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