4 Ways to Help Employees Through Their Benefits During COVID-19 Pandemic

March 26, 2020

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has changed the way many companies do business. And it’s transformed many employees’ personal lives in a short period of time. Some businesses have completely adjusted their business models, while many employees are now working from home in an effort to encourage social distancing and hopefully reduce the spread of coronavirus.

The changing face of business means your employees might be facing new challenges and engaging in their employee benefits in a different way. Fortunately, you can help! Here are four ways to help them through your employee benefits.

COVID-19 Pandemic Benefits Help

Clear any potential FSA change hurdles

Your employees might be looking for ways to update their contribution amounts for both their Medical FSAs and their Dependent Care FSAs to align with present needs. For example, your employees whose children’s schools have closed may now have children at daycare for more hours or not at daycare at all, which might lead them to want to change their FSA contribution election. That takes on increased importance because FSAs are use-or-lose accounts.

Your employees are only allowed to make FSA mid-year contribution changes if an IRS-approved qualifying event has occurred and if your plan allows to do so. Disruptions in services or changes in needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic may qualify as an IRS-approved event. You can also help them by making sure your FSA allows for mid-year changes. Consult your plan document and a benefits attorney if you have questions.

Communicate ability to change Commuter contributions

Your employees’ Commuter Benefits expenses may also have changed dramatically now that so many Americans are working from home to promote social distancing. Because Commuter Benefits are a monthly benefit, they can be easily changed on a month-by-month basis, which our participants can do through their online accounts. Let them know that they have the ability to make changes and that any changes they make should also be communicated to you since they would affect payroll deductions.

Offer new solutions tailored to today’s needs

Your employees’ healthcare needs, financial needs and how they work may have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That has many employers looking for ways to help employees during this time. There are a few employer-funded plans you can offer to support these employees, including:

  • An Emergency Spending Account, which is a post-tax account that let’s you customize the eligible expenses based on needs that have emerged for your employees, including additional daycare expenses, groceries or meal delivery services.
  • Disaster Relief Payments, which is reimbursed tax-free to employees as long as eligible expenses are for reasonable and necessary personal, family, living or funeral expenses incurred as a result of COVID-19.
  • A Lifestyle Spending Account, which is a post-tax account with customizable eligible expenses that are typically focused on the physical, financial and emotional wellness of your employees.

Promote mobile and online account usage

Choosing an administrator that has an easy-to-use participant online account and mobile app takes on even greater significance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our online account and the Benefits Mobile App by Discovery Benefits let employees easily check account balances, upload documentation, get instant notifications and more. Remind your employees to engage with these platforms to encourage healthy stay-at-home habits during the pandemic.

Would you like to find out more information about your employee benefits during this time and what solutions are available to help employees? Learn more here.  

The information on this page is for educational purposes only. It is not legal or tax advice. For legal or tax advice, you should consult your own counsel.  

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