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Give notice before changing benefit terms

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in HR Management,Human Resources

Q. Currently, our company pays 70 percent of employees' health insurance premiums. But we need to either decrease the percentage or possibly ask employees to pay the entire premium. How much notice must we give employees before making such a change? —D.O., Louisiana

A. Assuming that you're talking about at-will employees, you can change at any time, without any notice. Remember: Under the at-will employment rule, you can modify employee wages, hours or other terms of employment at any time, with or without notice, for any reason or no reason at all (so long as it's not an illegal or discriminatory reason).

But from an HR perspective, you'd still be wise to give employees a head's up before changing their terms and conditions of employment, especially when you're cutting or taking back benefits. A good benchmark: Give them at least 30 to 60 days' notice and explain why you're making the change. (The company hit hard times and experienced double-digit increases in health care costs in the past three years, for example.) If you fail to allow employees adequate time to make other arrangements, you risk an enormous employee morale problem.

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