Insurance and Other Benefits Archives

Offer Letter or Company Plan – Which One Governs?

Published on October 10th, 2017 by Alan L. Sklover

 
“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters
cannot be trusted with important matters.”

– Albert Einstein

ACTUAL CASE HISTORIES: Case History 1: Joseph signed an Offer Letter that said the following: “The Company will provide you and your family with health insurance coverage, subject to the terms provisions and conditions of the Company Health Insurance Plan.” Sounded good to Joseph.

After starting the job, though, Joseph found out that the terms of the Company Health Insurance Plan provided that “New employees and their families are not eligible for paid health insurance coverage until the employee has been on the job for six months.” So, the “terms and provisions” of the Plan essentially took away what the Offer Letter had seemed to provide Joseph and his family. Big disappointment, to say the least. In this case history, the Plan “overcame” or “superseded” what was in Joseph’s Offer Letter, or at least modified it to his and his family’s significant detriment. Ouch!

Case History 2: When Lemuel started his job, he was very interested in the company’s willingness to offer stock options to its employees. For this reason, he carefully reviewed the terms of his employer’s Stock Option Plan. It said quite clearly that “Company employees will receive a minimum of 1,000 stock options for each twelve months on the job, unless agreed otherwise.” Sounded great to Lemuel.

After a year on the job, Lemuel asked his Human Resources representative if he could get a written statement of how many stock options he had been awarded. To his surprise, he was told “You don’t have any.” When Lemuel insisted on an explanation, she responded, “Your Offer Letter stated clearly ‘Your compensation consists of a base salary, an annual bonus and health care coverage. No other compensation is being offered to you. To receive any additional form of compensation, you and an authorized representative of the Company and you must sign another document that provides that to you.”

So, the “terms and provisions” of Lemuel’s Offer Letter essentially took away what the Stock Option Plan had seemed to provide Lemuel and his family. In this case history, the Offer Letter “overcame” or “superseded” the Company’s Stock Option Plan. Ouch! Big disappointment, to say the least. Seems that the Offer Letter took away what the Stock Option Plan seemed to provide, by “overcoming” or “superseding” what was in the company’s Stock Option Plan.

Does your Offer Letter (or employment agreement) overcome everything that is said in any of the employer’s compensation and benefit Plans? Or do your employer’s compensation and benefit Plans overcome your Offer Letter (or employment agreement)? How can you tell? Perhaps, more importantly, what can you do?

LESSON TO LEARN: If they differ, which one – your offer letter or your employer’s plans – “govern and control?” It all depends, of course, on the wording of the documents – both offer letter and plan – and your willingness to take the time and effort to (a) read them carefully, and (b) ask for clarification, either on your own or, perhaps, with the guidance of an experienced employment attorney.

These days, with employers trying their very best to lower their “employment-related overhead costs,” we are seeing more and more of these issues, and sadly, most often only after someone has lost out on what they deserve.

But you can protect yourself, if only you are willing to try to do so by (i) reading carefully, (ii) thinking carefully and (iii) requesting clarification that even a 10-year old could understand.

That’s what we call wise “navigation and negotiation” of your employment relation, to ensure you get all you deserve, and don’t miss out on anything you do deserve.

Take it from me: unless you act to protect yourself, no one else will, especially your employer.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Have you received an offer letter, or are you expecting to receive one soon? Do you believe you are entitled to any compensation or benefit that is provided under a company Plan, such as stock, stock options, severance, health care, disability insurance, life insurance, educational benefits, or otherwise? To avoid being deeply disappointed, here are seven things you can – and should – do to protect yourself:
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Unknown Job Benefits and Perks – Are You Missing Out on Any?

Published on February 16th, 2016 by Alan L. Sklover

“ Once you get that two-way energy thing going,
everyone benefits hugely.”

– James Taylor

ACTUAL “CASE HISTORY”: Retaining the best employees is a crucial part of business success today. But, at the same time, keeping employee-related costs down is also a matter of business survival in the hyper-competitive world we live in. What’s an employer to do? Many have turned to providing unusual perquisites (commonly called “perks.”)

Following World War II, when soldiers returned from war eager to form families, buy houses and drive cars, there resulted a shortage of labor to build, construct and manufacture what people wanted to buy, own and consume. So employers came up with the idea of “job benefits” in an effort to attract and retain employees. That is how employer-provided health insurance, disability insurance, life insurance, paid vacation days and retirement benefits, just to name a few, came to be commonly expected employment “benefits.”

The word “perquisite” – or “perk,” for short – means “a gratuity, privilege or right of employment that is incidental to usual compensation.” Some might call them “mini-benefits,” because they are not as costly to employers, and do not seem as valuable to employees in comparison with such things as health insurance, pensions and life insurance.

In today’s competition for the best employees, employers are coming up with new, different, and unusual ways to attract and retain those who seem to be “the best and the brightest.” Your employer just might offer certain job “perks” that you may not be aware of.

According to a recently published report, these are some employer-provided perks you may have a hard time believing:
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“Can my employer reduce benefits without any limit?”

Published on August 19th, 2015 by Alan L. Sklover

Question: About ten days ago, without notice, my employer sent out an email to all employees telling us that, effective immediately, our health insurance will cost us more, our 401k contributions will be cut in half, and if we are laid off, our severance will be eliminated – entirely. These benefits were part of the reason I took this job. Is there any limit on this?

Stanley
Toms River, New Jersey

Answer: Dear Stanley: In the employment relation – just like in many other relations – there are few legal rules that limit the freedom of the parties to set their own terms and conditions in the relation. Regarding employers and employees, and employment benefits, this is how it goes:
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“Can I collect Unemployment Insurance benefits at the same time I am pursuing a claim for Workers Compensation benefits?”

Published on April 30th, 2010 by Alan L Sklover

Question: I was forced to leave my job, but fortunately, after I applied for Unemployment benefits, I did win unemployment benefits. The Unemployment agency agreed I was due benefits, since it was found that there was no good reason to let me go.

While I was still working, I was injured on the job, and so I filed a Workers Compensation claim. I have won that, too.

The lawyer I had in my Workers Compensation law suit told me I should settle the Workers Comp claim for quite a bit of money.

My question is this: If I settled the Workers Compensation claim, would I lose the Unemployment benefits I have already been paid, or possibly the Unemployment benefits I might collect in the future?

Mae
Mansfield, Ohio 

Answer: Mae, your question is not an easy one to answer, mostly because I don’t have all of the facts I would need to fully understand your dilemma. (Bear in mind, too, that I am not admitted as an attorney to the Courts of Ohio, so you can’t consider this to be legal advice.)

That being said, here are a few things you should know:

A. Your attorney in the Workers Compensation claim should know the answer to your question. I truly do think you should ask him his view on the issue.

B. Workers Compensation is a program intended to reimburse an injured employee for two things:  (1) lost wages, because the employee is unable to work due to the injury, and (2) medical expenses incurred in treating the injury.

C. Unemployment benefits are paid to an employee who is able to work, but unable to find a job.

Compare the two: do you see the problem? If you are seeking Workers Compensation benefits for being unable to work, how can you collect Unemployment benefits for being able to work at the very same time? Thus, if your Workers Compensation claim is seeking “lost wages” benefits, and if you are paid those “lost wages,” it seems to me you may lose your continuing Unemployment benefits. If the Workers Compensation claim is only for medical expenses incurred, I see no problem.

Again, I would speak to your Workers Compensation attorney on this as soon as possible. I’m confident he or she would be able to answer your question, and I think his or her analysis will be the same as my own, above. 

Thanks for writing in. I hope you’re enjoying our blog, and that you will tell others about it, as well.

 My Best to You,
Al Sklover

P.S.: Applying for Unemployment Benefits can be confusing! Clear the haze, and make sure you don’t forget anything – use our 132-Point Guide & Checklist for Unemployment Benefits. To get your copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

“Is there a deadline to file a Workers Compensation case?”

Published on March 3rd, 2010 by Alan L Sklover

Question: I work in an animal hospital. On August 29, 2009 I was lifting a 200 pound dog and injured my back. A week later, after my ankles had great pain, I started seeing what turned out to be many different doctors (including MRI, X-rays, EMG, chiropractic and spinal tap.)

The pain and periodic numbness in my legs has affected my ability to work. I’ve just received notice that my job will be over at the end of March due to “lack of business.”

Now doctors at Kansas University Medical Center have found I have a bulging and torn disk which, they say, is a “lifting injury.”

Is it too late to file for workers’ compensation?

        Janelle            
        Pittsburg, Kansas
     

Answer: There is simply no question about it: you should see a Workers’ Compensation attorney in your area who can answer your question with authority. In most states, attorneys cannot accept payment from a client in a case like yours, but must only get paid by an insurance company by order of a workers’ compensation board.  In fact, in New York, to accept a fee in a Workers’ Compensation case directly from a client is enough to get an attorney disbarred!

In Kansas, not only can you get your medical expenses reimbursed, but if you can’t work, or your work is limited, you can collect up to 2/3 of your gross weekly income, to a certain maximum.

Though I am not admitted to practice law in Kansas, my quick review of Kansas law indicates two important things: there is a 75-day deadline to tell your employer about your accident. Hopefully you told your employer about the accident sometime in that time period. Even if you did not, there are possible exceptions to that requirement.

MORE IMPORTANT, it seems that a written claim of the injury must be made to the employer within 200 days to ensure future benefits. That would seem to EXPIRE VERY SOON!!!

I urge you to (1) get the necessary form at the Kansas Workers’ Compensation website, www.dol.ks.gov, or call them at (785) 296-2996 and (2) contact a Workers’ Compensation attorney in your area as soon as possible. You can probably find one by Google or your local bar association referral committee.

Please act swiftly; there’s too much at stake not to. I really hope you will.

          Best, Al Sklover  

© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.


Alan L. Sklover

Alan L. Sklover

Employment Attorney
and Career Strategist
for over 35 years

Job Security and Career Success now depend on knowing how to navigate and negotiate to gain the most for your skills, time and efforts. Learn the trade secrets and 'uncommon common sense' of Attorney Alan L. Sklover, the leading authority on "Negotiating for Yourself at Work™".

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