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Restaurants gaining earnings as a result of lower gas prices

The food and beverage industry seems to be cashing in on recent drops in gas prices. Restaurant sales have continued to gradually increase through the end of the year. Because there’s more revenue as well as more eager dining customers waiting for the newest concept or eatery, it appears the industry has an opportunity for profits and gains in the future. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that eateries and drinking establishments topped just over $48 billion in sales in September. This figure was seasonally-adjusted. This number is up over 0.5% from the previous month and is the highest amount of monthly revenue in recorded history. The increase that took place for the month of September marks the seventh revenue increase over an eight month span. Every gain has totaled at least 0.4 percent. An interesting point that experts have noted is that the most recent rate of growth came in conjunction with the drop in gas prices that have been occurring around the country. Generally, when consumers have mo ...

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IRS releases information on health care exemptions

The Internal Revenue Service has released a new publication offering information about exemptions to the required health coverage within the Affordable Care Act. The information specifically relates to taxpayers who might be eligible for and claim an exemption for having minimum essential coverage. If the IRS finds the individual eligible for the exemption, they would not have to pay the individual shared responsibility payments for not having health care when they file their federal tax returns. Roughly 90 percent of those who will remain uninsured would likely qualify for the exemption according to the Congressional Budget Office and the Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation. Some of examples of those who are exempt would include illegal immigrants, who are already ineligible to receive nearly all Medicaid benefits and other subsidies available as a result of the insurance exchanges. Others include those whose income is low enough that they are not required to file a federal tax return (those ...

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Concerns arise over rewards from gamification of applications

Recent research emerging from Brigham Young University shows that employers should consider shying away from using health and fitness apps gamification to incentivize the wellness programs and encourage more participation. Many organizations have just gone with the assumption that gamified apps would be the solution to wellness program engagement, however, there hasn’t been any effective research to prove this assumption. In their study, researchers from the University found that the majority of 2,000 fitness and health applications use gamification features. The researchers not only examined the apps, they downloaded them to their own devices and used them to see their functionality. Some of their findings include: Pact: This type of application puts users against each other (other users or friends) to examine who stays true to their exercise routine.  Fitbit: Those who use this app can call on friends to assist them with reaching goals by sharing their statistics, participating in ...

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The future of employer-sponsored health plans

With the emergence of the Affordable Care Act, many wonder if employer-sponsored health insurance and group plans will survive moving forward. Employer benefits might take a turn in the coming years as a result of the new legislation. Because employees are less likely to expect health care benefits from their employer, companies seem to have a way out when it comes to offering said benefits. The U.S. Congressional Budget Office believes that up to five million fewer Americans will seek health care benefits from their employer every year from 2019 to 2022 than would have if the Affordable Care Act didn’t exist. Next year, the legislation’s employer mandate sets in. This will require employers that have at least 50 full-time employees to offer a minimum amount of health benefits to employees. Employers can elect to take a tax penalty instead of creating the coverage options for employees. Employers continue to offer comprehensive benefit packages in an effort to recruit and retain top ta ...

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Employers receive clarity on what they must provide for pregnant employees

Many can argue the motivation behind pregnancy discrimination. Some say that what is actually discrimination is rooted in concern for the mother-to-be. Others argue that the cause might be as simple as chauvinism. Both of these attitudes, however, are classified as discrimination. It gets even trickier for employers if FMLA leave or disability is also a factor. Recent guidance from the EEOC can assist with employers with navigating these issues. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released enforcement guidelines on pregnancy discrimination along with a thorough set of questions and answers. The guidance released by the EEOC is technically not law and is meant to serve as their interpretation of the law. While the commission doesn’t have the authority to create legislation, it can enforce any guidance it releases. Courts will generally rely on the guidance. Treating the guidance as a requirement is the safest bet for employers. The new guidance covers a wide range of topic ...

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