Latest Extension of COBRA Premium Subsidy

March 10, 2010

The 65% COBRA premium subsidy has recently been extended.  Under the “Temporary Extensions Act of 2010,” the subsidy will now apply to involuntary terminations occurring on or before March 31, 2010 (rather than February 28, 2010).

Under the new extension, certain individuals who experienced a reduction in work hours before the Extension Act’s March 2 enactment date, and who are involuntarily terminated on or after that date, may now qualify for the subsidy.

If you have had your hours of work reduced between September 1, 2009 and March 2, 2010 and then were terminated on or after March 2, 2010 you may qualify for the 65% COBRA reduction.  If you have questions concerning whether you qualify for the COBRA premium reduction, please contact Jensen Law Office, LLC to further discuss your situation.


Cobra Benefits and Premium Reduction

January 28, 2010

Under Illinois and Federal Law, when an employee who has health insurance through their employer loses their insurance through a reduction in hours or a loss of job, they, and their spouse and children, may be eligible for up to a 15 month continuation of benefits under COBRA or similar state laws. Normally under COBRA, the former employee is responsible for the entire COBRA premium, plus potentially an administrative fee. 

Under the Federal Stimulus package (ARRA) and its extension signed on December 11, 2009, individuals who lose group health coverage because of an involuntary termination between September 1, 2008, and February 28, 2010, may be eligible for a 65% reduction of their COBRA premiums for up to 15 months.  The state version, called “Mini-COBRA”, is applicable to small employers (under 20 employees) who offer insurance, and offers the same 65% reduction for up to 12 months. This means that instead of the job-less employee paying the full amount, they would only pay 35% of the COBRA premium. 

The stimulus package also provided a chance for some individuals to opt in to COBRA coverage even after their initial coverage window expired.  Some individuals who were already terminated after September 1, 2008 but before February 16, 2009 were to receive a notice of the ARRA provided premium reduction and a second chance to opt-in to coverage.  Individuals should have received that notice by April 18, 2009, and had 60 days to elect COBRA coverage, despite missing their first COBRA coverage opportunity. 

Under COBRA, there is a limited amount of time to elect coverage, with some very strict enforcement of deadlines, so act quickly. If you are having problems with your employer or your insurer regarding your COBRA benefits, or were recently terminated and need to discuss COBRA benefits, please contact Jensen Law Office, LLC to further discuss your situation.

Employer’s Payment Obligations to Separated Employees

December 17, 2009

When an employee is terminated, or when an employee quits, they are legally required to be paid certain wages, vacation, and bonuses earned according to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act.  The Wage Payment Collection Act requires prompt payment at the time of termination, or at the latest by the next regularly scheduled paycheck, of all earned wages, salary, the monetary equivalent of any earned vacation and holiday pay, any earned commissions, earned bonuses, and any other compensation owed to the terminated employee.  The failure to pay these amounts can be recovered by the employee, and employers who fail to pay may be required to pay the employee’s attorney fees.

Please contact Jensen Law Office, LLC to answer any questions regarding what is required to be paid at separation, or to discuss your situation.

Unpaid Wages and Overtime

September 8, 2009

In Illinois, all non-exempt hourly employees must earn at least the minimum wage, and must be paid time and a half (“overtime”) for all hours in excess of forty per work week.  Minimum wage and overtime are governed by a number of state and federal statutes, including the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (“IWPCA”), Illinois Minimum Wage Law (“IMWL”), and Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).

The FLSA contains provisions setting the federal minimum wage.  Effective July 24, 2009, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.  The IMWL contains provisions setting the state minimum wage for Illinois, currently at $8.00 per hour.  If both the FLSA and the IMWL apply to an employee, the employee is entitled to earn the higher of the minimum wages set forth in the statutes.

The FLSA and IMWL each contain overtime provisions which mandate that non-exempt hourly employees must be paid time and a half for all hours worked in excess of forty hours in one work week.  An employee must be compensated for all time worked.  However, certain workers, particularly salaried employees, may be exempt from these overtime provisions.

The IWPCA mandates that employers in Illinois must pay each employee for all time that the employee worked, within two weeks of the end of the period in which the wages were earned.  The IWPCA further regulates final compensation upon the end of employment, and makes it unlawful for any employer to deduct wages from an employee’s paycheck without the written consent of the employee

Any non-exempt employee that has not been paid the appropriate wage for their time at work, or has not been paid for their overtime can pursue recovery of those amounts, attorney’s fees, and statutory penalties including liquidated damages.  Should you feel that you have not been paid the appropriate wages for the hours that you have worked, or should you feel that you have not received all your compensation in a timely manner, please contact Jensen Law Office, LLC to fully discuss your rights and your status under the above acts.