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Benefits That Benefit: Designing affordable plans that meet employee needs, enhance retention, and prevent discrimination

Thursday, July 23, 2020, 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm EDT

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Keith Burkhardt

Employer Counsel
Sherrard Kuzz LLP
Anne Gregory

Legal Counsel
Manitoba Nurses Union


Randy Bauslaugh

Employer Counsel
McCarthy TĂ©trault LLP
Charlene Theodore

Legal Counsel
Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association
Theresa Tran

Senior Consultant
Eckler Ltd.


An attractive, comprehensive benefit plan is crucial to employee health and morale, workplace productivity, and recruitment and retention of top talent. But as today's workforce is more diverse than ever, employers and unions are more frequently finding that traditional benefit plans fall short of many employees' needs. While workplace parties may agree on revising or renegotiating an existing benefit plan, they often encounter challenges in deciding how best to proceed, including insufficient data, disparate needs within the workforce, rising costs, and barriers to inclusion of diverse employees. In this session, experts will explore practical strategies for addressing these challenges and designing benefit plans that are fair, cost-effective, and responsive to the needs of a diverse workforce.

  • Why might traditional benefit plans fail to meet the needs of diverse employees? What prominent trends have emerged in workforce demographics and the nature of work, and what are the implications of these trends for designing benefit plans?
  • What information do workplace parties need to develop benefit plans that meet employees' needs? What strategies are effective for assessing needs, identifying gaps, and determining which benefits are most highly valued?
  • How can workplace parties effectively address needs that differ widely between employees, especially as a result of generational diversity?
  • How have adjudicators applied the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal's Talos decision, which held that legislative provisions permitting age-based distinctions in pension, benefit, and insurance plans for employees aged 65 and over are unconstitutional?
  • How can workplace parties design their benefit plans to ensure equal access and promote a culture of diversity and inclusion?
  • How can employers ensure that their benefit plans remain competitive and responsive to employees' needs over time? What factors should employers monitor in considering whether their benefit plans require adjustments?
  • What approaches to designing benefit plans allow for employee choice? What are the advantages and disadvantages of offering voluntary benefits or flexible benefit plans?
  • In what areas are benefit costs rising? Is increased workforce diversity contributing to this upward trend?
  • What general strategies can workplace parties use to control benefit costs? What measures are employers and unions negotiating to improve benefits while reducing costs?
  • Can wellness programs and other proactive approaches to health management help reduce benefit costs? How can workplace parties ensure that wellness programs do not have discriminatory effects?
  • What are the key elements of an effective benefit plan communication strategy? What are some best practices for communicating with diverse employees and enhancing engagement? How should unions and employers explain benefit plan changes and negotiated cost-containment measures to employees?

Additional Information

Valuable, up-to-date materials and case summaries will be available for downloading from our website. Each audio conference is accompanied by a PDF of concise summaries of the cases discussed.

Audio conference MP3 files are available for $265. Those who have purchased the live audio conference may purchase the corresponding downloadable audio MP3 file for the discounted price of $165.

The recorded MP3 file and materials are available for download one business day after the live audio conference. After purchasing, you will receive an e-mail with instructions on how to access and download the audio conference MP3 file and materials by visiting My Account and selecting Order History. For audio file purchases for upcoming audio conferences, once the MP3 file is available through our site, registrants will receive an update e-mail informing them that the links are now ready.

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