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Can my client offer one set of medical benefits to salaried employees and a different set to hourly employees?
Yes, but with caution. Note: this answer is limited to health benefits, benefits such as retirement plans may be treated differently and should be discussed with a financial advisor.
Employers can offer different benefits or different levels of benefits (a “Program”) to different classes of employees provided that each employee who is in a similarly situated class is offered the same Program and provided that the classes are constructed from “bona fide employment-based classifications.”
Examples of employee classes:
Two important factors to consider when designing Programs that differ by employee class. In general, the Program must be non-discriminatory. Specifically:
If an employer wishes to implement a Program whose benefits differ based on employee classification, especially if the classification is salary and hourly, where the likelihood of discrimination in favor of highly compensated individuals is much higher, we strongly recommend that you or the employer engage the services of a firm that specializes in compliance testing to ensure that all nondiscrimination requirements are satisfied. We encourage you to contact one of our partners below.
Claremont has vetted and partnered with a number of firms that offer HR Compliance services: Vendor Partners – HR Compliance.
There may be a more recent answer to this question. Contact Claremont for an update.