(This article was originally published in Law360 and has been modified for this blog.)
Employers commonly offer a wide array of employee benefit plans and programs. In addition to traditional staples, many employers today offer an employee assistance program, dependent care, accident insurance and even pet insurance. In an increasingly competitive labor market, offering a full spectrum of employee benefits is an important way to maintain a competitive advantage. While the type of programs offered have increased, employees may not always have sufficient knowledge to make use of them. In a 2017 survey, only 60 percent of employees thought their employers effectively educated them to select the benefits options that meet their needs. Underutilization means employers are not receiving the full benefit of their offerings.
That is why some employers are starting to use a navigator, or concierge service, to help employers realize a greater return on their investment in these programs by raising employees’ awareness of available benefits and promoting employees’ access and utilization of them. Benefit concierge services raise several unique legal issues in the areas of data privacy, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and technology, to name a few. With appropriate legal counsel and planning, many of these issues can be addressed. This article highlights some of the legal issues that may arise when providing a concierge service.