Many US workers have access to benefits. In the private sector, 77% of employees can take sick leave, 71% have health benefits, and 40% have dental care. In addition to these major benefits, some companies also offer wellness programs, paternity leave, daycare, and other perks.
Administering these programs requires paperwork, including benefit enrollment forms, which we will explain below. While a specific type of benefit enrollment form may not be required by law, you must gather information about benefit participation and employees for tax purposes and to stay compliant with your insurers and any third-party benefit providers.
Benefit enrollment forms can be an excellent way to do this. They help you gather information on one form and ensure the information is gathered in a compliant way. Some insurers even require benefit enrollment forms.
What Is a Benefit Enrollment Form?
To take advantage of workplace benefits, workers need to share some personal details. This usually comes in the form of a benefit enrollment form, a document that captures information used to administer benefits. These forms are usually needed at three specific times.
- Onboarding: When a new candidate joins your team, they will generally need to fill out benefits enrollment forms to start taking advantage of all your workplace offers.
- Open enrollment: Open enrollment is a specific time of the year when health insurance providers allow people to make changes to their policies. Open enrollment usually happens in the fall and lasts a few weeks. Workers may wish to take advantage of this enrollment period to change their benefit plans.
- Special enrollment: The Special Enrollment Period (SEP) is 60 days outside of open enrollment when individuals can sign up for a health insurance plan. Workers may qualify for SEP enrollment if they have had a major life event, such as having a baby or moving. The New Hire Enrollment Period is a specific type of SEP that allows new workers to choose their benefits for 30-60 days after getting a new job.
During each of these periods, workers may need to fill out a benefit enrollment form, which can be a paper document or can be completed online, depending on the system your organization uses.
If an employee’s status changes because they move, get married, have or adopt a baby, or otherwise go through a life event that could impact their benefits, the information on their form will also need to be updated to stay in compliance.
Why Are Benefit Enrollment Forms Important?
Paperwork is necessary for many parts of HR and administration work, and benefits are no different. Benefit enrollment forms can help your organization do the following.
- Stay compliant with federal and local laws. The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) requires companies with more than 50 full-time workers to file forms 1094 and 1095, which contain information about health care benefits, including the number of employees who are part of group benefits. Your local municipality may have additional regulations, too, so make sure to be up-to-date on local requirements.
- Administer workplace benefits. You’ll need some personal information to make sure insurance companies and other providers you’re working with have the information they need to get benefits to your workers. You also need the data from these documents to ensure each team member gets the benefits they have signed up for.
- Save money. Benefit enrollment forms can help you gather metrics about what benefits are most attractive to your workplace. This can help you discontinue any benefits your team doesn’t want.
- Shape recruiting. Choosing the right benefits is important for attracting talent. 60% of workers say they consider benefits carefully when choosing where to work, and 80% would prefer better benefits over higher pay. Enrollment forms help you gather data about what benefits are most attractive to workers, so you can advertise job perks to potential candidates and shape a benefits package that attracts talent.
What Information Should Your Organization Gather on Benefit Enrollment Forms?
Your organization can use benefit enrollment form templates or create your own forms.
If you create your own, make sure to speak to your provider of group benefits to find out what information they need from your employees so that you can gather everything that’s required. Then, have the final form, especially the authorization to disclose personal health information, reviewed by legal counsel.
Many benefit enrollment forms will include the following sections and information.
Workers’ personal information
The employee’s name, contact information, social security number, marital status, race, and date of birth are all important for insurers, who use this information to accurately identify them and price healthcare quotes.
Reason for enrollment
Is the employee filling out the form after a qualifying life event or during open enrollment? You will need this information to stay compliant. For example, if your worker is changing their plan outside of the open enrollment period, you need to be able to show they qualify to do so because they have adopted a child or have had another qualifying event.
This part of the form states that insurance carriers and any other providers of benefits do not discriminate against workers based on their religion, race, gender, national origin, age, or any other characteristic protected by civil rights laws.
Changes in status
When an employee’s phone number, contact information, marital status, or other information has changed, you will need to update this information for insurance and tax purposes. Adding a question about this on the form can also remind employees to update their information during routine benefits updates, such as open enrollment.
Authorization of disclosure of personal health information
This part of the benefit enrollment form asks workers to give insurance providers the authority to access their health records to assess claims and for other lawful purposes.
For insurance policies or benefits that pay upon death, you may need to ask for the contact information of beneficiaries. If some group benefits, such as health insurance, include spouses and children, you may need details about these individuals, including their names, dates of birth, and other policies they already have in place.
Other insurance coverage
Your workers need to disclose what other benefits they have, especially when it comes to healthcare coverage. If they fail to do so, future claims may be denied.
Insurers need to know about other coverage because if a worker has more than one policy in place, healthcare insurance providers need to establish amongst themselves who is the primary insurance provider and who is the secondary insurance provider.
In the event of a claim, the primary provider pays the claim. If there is an additional amount not covered by the primary insurance coverage, the secondary insurance provider pays the additional costs, up to the insurance policy limit.
The signature line should state that by signing, your worker is verifying that everything in the form is complete and accurate. By signing, they are also agreeing that they have read and understood all parts of the form.
What’s not included in benefit enrollment forms
These forms do not contain information about the benefit costs that employees and employers share, as these details are subject to change, or personal benefit information, such as the details of your employees’ health plans.
How Can Your Organization Use Benefit Enrollment Forms Effectively?
If you are having your team members fill out benefit enrollment forms, you may want to use these best practices.
- Train your workers. You can use a platform like employee training software to create a video tutorial to guide your employees through the benefit enrollment form. Include information about why the form is important and walk employees through the form step by step, making sure it’s clear what is required.
- Choose a delivery method that works for your company. Depending on how your employees use technology, you may want to have fully electronic versions of the forms, or have everyone fill out paper copies. Either way, make sure there is a clear process for management to collect and store the forms the same way each time.
- Offer user-friendly forms. Make it easier to complete the form by using a version with clear, simple language. Only ask for the information you need and structure the form so it flows smoothly and logically.
- Help workers fill out forms correctly. Let employees contact HR with questions and offer extra support if a worker is struggling with the language of the form. A platform like Connecteam lets you keep forms in one easy-to-find place, along with instructions and even checklists to remind workers to fill out every section of the paperwork.
- Gather information. Review the forms that have been submitted and compile data about which programs seem most popular with workers. This can help you plan future perks.
- Communicate with your workers. Use the metrics from benefit enrollment forms to spark conversations about what benefits workers want to see and why some benefits (if any) are not popular. If you notice some workers are not signing up for group benefits, such as group medical care, you may want to have conversations about why. Private health insurance can provide better-quality care when compared with public programs such as Medicaid, so if your workers are not choosing the private option, you might want to find out why.
- Send messages to employees well in advance of due dates. If open enrollment is coming up, for example, send out push notifications and reminders to employees using a platform like Connecteam. If you have a deskless workforce, especially, it’s important to send reminders well in advance, because your workers may report in to a central office where upcoming deadlines and important information are posted.
Benefitting From Enrollment Forms
Benefit enrollment forms help you get workplace perks to workers, create a great benefits package, and stay compliant. You have plenty of options, including paper or electronic forms, and templates or custom-made forms. No matter which you choose, offering plenty of support for workers will help ensure you get the information you need.