By - April 23, 2020

Benefits Considerations You Need to Know When Mass Hiring During COVID-19

covid-19 food delivery

Furloughs and layoffs continue to be announced in industries specifically battered by the COVID-19 crisis. The latest unemployment numbers are staggering, with 26.5 million new unemployment filings in the past five weeks alone. Airlines, hospitality, restaurants, non-essential retail outlets, and theme parks are shedding employees at record rates.

Five industries mass hiring

There are industries experiencing massive hiring, with that comes careful considerations for onboarding employees. They need to be onboarded quickly and efficiently, and you need to ensure your benefits offering doesn’t get lost in the shuffle:

  • Local delivery: While the gig worker has been impacted severely from lower demand for ride-sharing, the volume of delivery service requests is at an all-time high. Food delivery job postings have increased 78% in March. Only furniture delivery hiring has decreased, while transportation and storage and package delivery hiring continues to rise.
  • Amazon: The giant online retailer plans to add 100,000 full- and part-time jobs throughout their operations group to meet the crushing demand for their service.
  • Grocery: Walmart is adding 150,000 new positions across the US to ensure shelves are stocked, stores are cleaned properly, and customers have assistance. Other national chains are hiring hundreds of temporary and long-term workers.
  • Essential retail: Due to limited options for procuring essential goods, essential retail stores such as Dollar General are hiring more than double their normal recruitments. Some new hires will only stay during the high volume, while others are expected to stay more long-term as stores attract new loyalty from customers.
  • Healthcare: Hospital systems are seeing a shift in worker employment. They are reducing staff for non-critical care no longer needed, as elective surgeries are put on an indefinite hold. For the time being, the system is shifting to telemedicine. At the same time, the need for nurses has increased in order to prepare and handle COVID-19 related cases. Some hospitals report a 75% decrease in patient volume, including a 40-60% decrease in admittances for heart attacks, a common emergency room condition prior to COVID-19. At the same time, hospital systems are hiring to support COVID-19 needs and the shift to telemedicine.

Our previous blog post detailed important concerns around complying with the Affordable Care Act when laying off or furloughing employees. There are also considerations for onboarding.

Onboarding considerations during COVID-19

Onboarding large numbers of employees requires two important components: complying with the ACA and delivering a better benefits experience:

  1. ACA Considerations: Employees scheduled to work more than 30 hours per week from the start must be offered affordable benefits that meet the ACA’s Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) threshold within three months from their date of hire. While variable hour workers, who do not have a set expectation of the number of hours, may be measured during an initial measurement period, the addition of scheduled full time employees mean less room for error in meeting the 95% offer threshold of offering benefits to all full time employees.
  2. Benefits Enrollment: More employees mean more are moving through your benefits enrollment system. Providing swift and robust decision support that helps employees quickly find the best plan is key. Employers in the industries highlighted above need the workers productive immediately and not spending 30 minutes reviewing and enrolling in their benefits. Tango Decision Assist is already helping our clients onboard their new employees quickly.
  3. Handling Rehires or Redeployed Employees: For employers who have furloughed or laid off employees, only to rehire them in a different capacity in less than 13 weeks, need to ensure offers of coverage remain in place. This is required if the employee was in a stability period as full time prior to the layoff.

While the full impact of the economy on every industry is still not well understood, the increased hiring in these industries is a positive sign but must be handled carefully to continue meeting the requirements of ACA while also delivering a positive onboarding experience to new hires.

If you need some help with quickly onboarding employees or accurately tracking your employees for ACA reporting, please contact us.

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