Mental health parity – A bill that levels the insurance benefits playing field for mental health benefits moved one step closer to reality last week when the House of Representatives approved a measure that would require group health plans to apply the same treatment limits on mental health and addiction coverage as for other medical benefits. The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007 would amend the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996. Currently, most insurance plans have caps on the number of visits and limitations on coverage for mental health services and addiction treatment. The House version of this measure is facing opposition from business groups because it is stronger and more encompassing than a similar measure passed by the Senate last year. For more information see:
New York Times: House Approves Bill on Mental Health Parity
SHRM: House Passes Mental Health Parity Bill
Business Insurance: Mental parity bill steps closer to law
Wellness incentives – According to Risk and Insurance, when it comes to obesity and weight loss, cash is the ultimate incentive. The publication reports on a recent study by researchers at RTI International and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which suggests that moderate financial incentives can promote employees to stay healthy on the job.
Georgia gives a boost to teleworkingGeorgia employers who start or expand their employee teleworking programs have a good incentive to do so. The state offers tax credits of up to $20,000 to cover program start-up costs and credits of as much as $1,200 per new teleworker. Last month, the Georgia Department of Revenue announced that 135 employers have been approved to take tax credits in 2008 for creating and expanding telework programs. These credits —- currently capped at $2 million a year —- will provide a tremendous return on the state’s investment in the form of increased employee productivity and morale, fewer cars on our traffic-choked roads and less pollutants in our skies.
Work web usageHR Capitalist suggests that if you’re firing someone for excessive use, the problem is probably you….. Kris Dunn discusses an AMA survey on employer concerns and practices regarding employee misuse of the Internet and e-mail. The HR Capitalist take? Excessive Internet use isn’t a policy issue, it’s a performance issue.
Talent pool shortage – A U.S. News and World Report suggests that middle managers are in short supply, particularly in industries like healthcare, IT, finance, engineering, and sales. A recent survey of HR executives at Fortune 500 and smaller companies found they expect mid- and senior-level employees will be more difficult to hire in 2008. Most said they’d probably be paying 5 to 15 percent salary premiums to fill accounting, finance, marketing, sales, engineering, information technology, clinical, and midlevel management positions.
Hat tip to Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership for the pointer.
Workplace Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month – March is a good month to redouble your eye safety efforts. More than 800,000 eye injuries occur while workers are on the job, and close to 36,000 of those will require time off from work. Prevent Blindness suggest the following tips to promote eye safety in the workplace:

  • Safety eyewear must have “ANSI Z87” clearly marked on all glasses or goggles and should be worn at all times whenever eye hazards are present.
  • Workers should know where the nearest eye wash station is at their job site and how to use it.
  • Employers should be notified immediately if safety hazards are discovered.
  • Employees should have regular eye exams to make sure their vision is adequate to do their jobs safely.
  • Those who already have reduced vision should ask their employers if prescription glasses or goggles can be provided.

Nix on carnivores – As if it’s not hard enough to find the right worker for the job, HR Lori features an interesting item about a job listing for software development interns that has an unusual job requirement: applicants must be vegetarians. She notes that this is the flip side of a recent California court case that found employers can discriminate against vegetarians.

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