Newsletter from Integrated Benefit Solutions
CDC Provides Guidance on Consent Elements and
Disclosures for Workplace COVID-19 Testing
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) has issued guidance
on the elements of consent and disclosures necessary to support
employee decision-making when employers incorporate workplace
Differences in position and authority (such as workplace
hierarchies), as well as employment status in nonstandard working
arrangements (e.g., temporary help, contract help or part-time
employment) can affect an employee’s ability to make free
decisions. This guidance suggests measures employers can take
when developing a testing program.
To fully support employee decision-making and consent, these
measures should include:
employees’ privacy and confidentiality;
information that is complete and understandable on how the
employer’s testing program may impact employees’ lives;
any parts of the testing program an employee would consider
important when deciding to participate;
information about the testing program in the employee’s
preferred language using nontechnical terms;
supervisors and co-workers to avoid pressuring employees to
participate in the testing; and
and answering questions during the consent process.
Employers should follow these measures to create a
supportive environment when employees need to make decisions
about workplace-based testing.
Understanding Prescription Drug Pricing Trends
In 2019, the United States spent nearly $370
billion on prescription drugs, keeping trend with significant
increases year over year. Although prescription drug spending has
historically been a small proportion of national health care
costs compared to hospital and physician services, it has grown
rapidly in recent years—comprising about 10% of national health
care spending. Below are the two major factors contributing to
the rise of prescription drug costs:
- Influx of specialty drugs—Specialty
medications account for a smaller portion of U.S.
prescriptions than non-specialty drugs, yet they command
nearly half of the pharmaceutical market. In 2021, experts
predict an 11.5% increase in specialty drug prices, compared
to a 2.8% rise in non-specialty drug prices. These
manufacturer price increases are often cited by insurers as
reasons for rising insurance premiums.
- Price inflation—According
to a Segal report, 40% of new products recently launched by drug
manufacturers were specialty medications. These drugs are
now being pushed at a higher rate than non-specialty drugs,
contributing to price inflation. Specialty drug utilization
increased by nearly 6% in 2020, whereas non-specialty drug
usage remained relatively the same. And there is little
recourse for anyone seeking an alternative to these
Yet, despite these trends, there are cost-cutting
strategies available to employers. These include managing drug
usage, utilizing rebates and educating employees. Reach out to
learn more about these and other budgetary tactics.
How HR Can Support Working Parents
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, working
parents have been forced to contend with their children’s
changing school routines. Unfortunately, these routines vary by
school, with little universal guidance. On top of that, many
schools continue to go back and forth between virtual and
in-person learning. The uncertainty surrounding school routines
and their impact on working parents will undoubtedly continue to
have ripple effects in the workplace.
Considerations for Employers
Although the specifics will vary, consider the following methods
for accommodating working parents:
- Expanded remote work
opportunities—Telework allows employees
to work entirely remotely. It can be a way for working
parents to get kids to school without having to worry about
an additional commute. It also allows parents more time to
spend with their young children or kids who must be at home
due to virtual learning.
- Flexible scheduling—Employers
set designated “core” hours that an employee must be working
and otherwise let employees work whenever they like.
Alternatively, an employer may instead allow employees to
work any combination of days or hours to complete the
- Generous time off policies—Some
employers have generous policies related to paid time off
(PTO). Consider implementing a PTO bank policy where
employees can use their time off for any reason (as opposed
to having sick days and vacation days).
- Robust EAP offerings—Employee
assistance programs (EAPs) can be tailored to a workforce to
provide employee resources. Offerings may include mental
health resources, therapist appointments, financial counseling and other wellbeing programs.
EAPs can help connect employees with the resources they need
to improve a given situation, even if it’s
their overall well-being. For working parents, this could be
the lifeline they’ve been searching
- Transparent and frequent
communication—Depending on the team size,
managers could have open discussions with working parents
about needing to take time off or flexing their schedules.
Such conversations show employees that their well-being is
just as important as their performance.
The absence of workplace guidance related to
working parents’ circumstances may force some employees to resign
or take extended leaves to accommodate their families. Plan for
these situations now, and prevent
Managing the Excuse-Makers
Some employees always seem to have an excuse for
failing to meet expectations. Luckily, there are strategies
managers can use to turn repeat excuse-makers into productive
team members. Learn about these strategies in the video below.