pie chartWith the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) intentionally designed to reshape the world of benefits, many HR managers are finding it difficult to keep track of the laws numerous new rules though no impending disasters were found to be looming in a report from SHRM. However, the 2013 Employee Benefits Research Report has found that about 25 percent of respondents are having trouble keeping up with the changing landscape and are uncertain what is expected of them. But the number of people lacking understanding of the law’s details fell from 31 percent in 2010 to 20 percent this year.

Though many employers are actually outpacing the law, as 82 percent of surveyed employers are now offering contraceptives coverage, compared to 66 percent in 2009. The report also showed the 34 percent of large employers now have private lactation rooms for nursing mothers, up from 25 percent 2009. One-quarter of states with legalized same-sex marriage now also offer benefits to domestic partners, though typically exclude healthcare coverage.

Other key findings from the survey include:

• Support for employee referral bonuses is up with 47 percent of organizations offering them, up from 38 percent last year.

• Professional development opportunities are now offered by 88 percent of employers, cross-training for skills not directly related to an employee’s current occupations is offered by 44 percent of organizations, and formal mentoring programs are offered by 20 percent of respondents. The vast majority of respondents (85 percent) offer offsite professional development opportunities.

• Paid time offer plans and wellness benefits continue to gain popularity as housing and relocation benefits become less common.

• Benefits most commonly offered by respondents include: prescription drug program coverage (98 percent of organizations), paid holidays (97 percent), dental insurance (96 percent), and defined contribution savings plans (92 percent).

• Nearly 90 percent of employers provide mental health coverage and the most common type of health insurance are PPO plans (86 percent).

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