Can our practice offer benefits to administrative staff?
Yes, practices can arrange to provide benefits through the AOMBT to administrative staff. Providing a comprehensive benefits package can help employers retain, attract, and motivate employees, and may provide a staff member with the means to access preventative care and avoid unnecessary absences.
Practices are not required or obligated to offer benefits; the decision is up to each individual practice. However, should a practice decide to offer benefits to staff, this must be done in a fair and equitable manner. Currently, approximately half of all practices in Ontario offer benefits for their staff.
If your practice is considering offering benefits for staff, please review the information below and contact the AOMBT if you have any questions. Please note: the benefits plan for practice staff is similar but not the exact same as the midwives' plan. As well, monthly premiums differ as they are partially determined by the annual salary of the employee. To initiate the enrollment process for your staff, or if you have questions about the cost of benefits for practice staff, please contact the AOMBT.
What is the process for enrolling new staff?
Unlike midwives, practice administrative staff are subject to a 3 month waiting period for benefits eligibility. It is common human resources practice to require employees to successfully complete a probationary period, usually either 3 or 6 months, before they are enrolled in a group benefits plan with their employer. Upon completion of the waiting period, a copy of the enrollment form must be received by the AOM Benefits Trust within 30 days. For example, if a staff person’s first day of work is January 1st, they will be eligible for benefits as of April 1st, and their enrollment forms must be received by May 1st.
Practices who offer benefits to their staff are advised to inform the AOMBT by phone or email when a new staff person joins the practice. The AOMBT will then send the enrollment package to the new staff person by email. This email enrollment package includes the mandatory enrollment form, along with optional forms for staff who wish to supplement their Life, Critical Illness and/or Accidental Death & Dismemberment coverage and/or purchase coverage for their partner/spouse and/or dependants.
Please note: Practice Partners must retain the original enrollment forms in a secure but accessible location at the practice. In the event of a life insurance or accidental death and dismemberment claim, beneficiary information must be provided by way of the original document signed by the plan member.
If your practice has never offered benefits to staff before and would like to begin doing so, all eligible staff members will be considered new enrollments, and will have 30 days from the effective date of coverage to submit their enrollment forms. Contact the AOMBT to initiate this process.
What are the consequences if the enrollment forms are late?
If staff enrollment forms are not received within 30 days after the date of eligibility (date of eligibility for staff is 3 months after their first day of work), the staff person will be considered a late applicant; their coverage will be contingent on approval by the insurance company and they may need to provide medical evidence of insurability. If approved, they will have restrictions on their dental benefits for the first 12 months of coverage, and could have other restrictions on their coverage.
Are all staff eligible for benefits?
Staff must be working 16 or more hours a week at a midwifery practice in Ontario to be eligible for benefits. If family benefits are offered, health and dental coverage is available for the staff member’s dependants. Their spouse/partner will qualify if they are legally married or have been living in a common-law relationship for at least 12 months. Dependant children are eligible if they are under age 21 and not working more than 30 hours a week, unless a full-time student, or if they are under age 26 and registered as a student at a college, university, trade school or similar educational facility, or if they are permanently incapacitated either prior to age 21 or while an eligible student.
Are we required to offer family benefits?
No, you are not required to offer family benefits. Practices can decide to offer single (employee-only) benefits to their staff even if the staff person has a spouse/partner and/or dependants. Some practices pay for single benefits for their staff, but allow staff to "top up" their benefits themselves to two-party or family coverage if desired. The most important thing to remember is that it must be equitable amongst your staff. For example, practices should not pay for family benefits for one staff person and only single coverage for another if both have dependants.
Can staff opt out if they have benefits elsewhere?
As with midwives, staff can opt out of health and/or dental coverage, contingent upon providing proof that they have comparable coverage elsewhere, such as through their spouse/partner’s work benefits plan. Basic insurances (Life, AD&D and Critical Illness), Short and Long- Term Disability are mandatory for all practice administrative staff plan members.
Can practices make changes to the benefits plan for staff?
As is common practice in the insurance industry, the group benefits plan offered through the AOMBT is a standard plan; it is not customizable. Neither midwives nor staff can pay more to increase their dental maximums, for example. Offering customizable plans would result in a significant increase in costs for all members. In 2014, the AOM Benefits Trust initiated a consultation process with practice partners, culminating in a survey to determine certain aspects of the benefits plan, such as vision coverage and short-term disability. The results of the survey were used to design a benefits plan for staff that meets the needs of plan members at various life stages, while remaining both cost-effective and equitable.
What is non-taxable LTD?
Non-taxable LTD means that the staff person themselves must pay the full premium amount. For a staff person making $50,000, the monthly premium is approximately $65. Staff are eligible for Short-Term Disability after 14 consecutive days off work due to illness, injury or a degenerative condition. If a staff person continues to be unable to work for more than 90 days, they may apply for Long-Term Disability. Once approved, they will receive 60% of their pre-disability monthly earnings, to a maximum of $3,500 monthly. If staff had taxable (employer-paid) LTD, their LTD payments would be subject to income tax. This can significantly reduce their payments at a time when they may be at their most financially vulnerable. For example, a plan member earning $50,000 annually would receive approximately $2,500 a month on LTD. If the benefit is taxable, the payment would be closer to $1,667 a month, as the payments would be subject to income tax when the plan member submits their tax return the following calendar year. With the move to employee-paid LTD, all LTD payments are non-taxable income. Your payroll provider, bookkeeper, or accountant can assist you with deducting the LTD premiums for staff.
What are my obligations as a practice partner?
Practice partners must ensure that the AOMBT is informed of salary or employment status changes for practice staff. Certain aspects of the benefits plan are salary-based, such as life insurance and disability coverage, so it’s important that this information is up to date. In addition, practice partners must ensure that the original signed enrollment forms, or forms designating a change in a staff person’s beneficiary(ies), are filed in a secure but accessible location at your practice.