ONLINE ENROLMENT UP
— Employees in the United States are using the Internet like never before. Approximately 70 per cent of workers use the Web to enrol for benefits. That percentage has nearly doubled in just two years, according to research by consulting firm Hewitt Associates. In 1999, Web enrolment was at 36 per cent, increasing to 52 per cent in 2000 and 70 per cent last year.
USE TECHNOLOGY TO REIN IN COSTS
— Double-digit increases in North American health-care costs require employers to actively examine benefit plans, and technology should be on the radar screen, say experts at consulting firm Towers Perrin. Technology can engage employees and streamline administration. Other options for containing cost include: reassessing vendors and renegotiating agreements, revised cost-sharing with employees, and new consumer-driven plans.
EUROPE DEBATES TEMP BENEFITS
— A European Commission plan to extend the right to benefits for temporary workers is drawing criticism from employers that say it will reduce the ability of companies to be flexible. The plan would legislate the rights of temporary workers to receive the same benefits, pensions and pay as permanent employees.
— Sabbaticals are becoming hard to come by. Unpaid sabbaticals took a nose-dive between 1996 and 2001 from 27 per cent to 14 per cent, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports. Paid sabbaticals dropped from six per cent to five per cent. A spokesperson for SHRM said employers prefer telecommuting, job sharing, flextime or a compressed workweek.