C8 learner - Business Acumen for Compensation Professional Updated: 2023
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Exam Code: C8 Business Acumen for Compensation Professional learner November 2023 by Killexams.com team|
C8 Business Acumen for Compensation Professional
The WorldatWork C8 Business Acumen for Compensation Professional exam is designed to assess the knowledge and skills of compensation professionals in understanding business acumen and its application to compensation practices. Here is a detailed description of the exam, including the number of questions and time allocation, course outline, exam objectives, and exam syllabus.
Number of Questions and Time:
The WorldatWork C8 exam consists of multiple-choice questions. The exact number of questions and time allocation can be obtained from the official WorldatWork exam documentation. Generally, the exam is completed within a set time limit to test the candidate's knowledge and ability to apply business acumen concepts to compensation practices.
The course for the WorldatWork C8 exam covers various syllabus related to business acumen and its relevance to compensation professionals. The course outline may include the following key areas:
1. Introduction to Business Acumen for Compensation Professionals:
- Understanding the role of business acumen in compensation practices.
- Linking compensation strategies to business goals and objectives.
- Recognizing the impact of external factors on compensation decisions.
2. Financial Concepts and Analysis:
- Understanding financial statements and key financial metrics.
- Analyzing financial data to make informed compensation decisions.
- Applying financial analysis techniques to evaluate compensation programs.
3. Organizational Strategy and Structure:
- Understanding organizational structures and their impact on compensation.
- Aligning compensation programs with organizational strategy.
- Identifying key stakeholders and their influence on compensation decisions.
4. Industry and Market Analysis:
- Conducting industry and market research to inform compensation practices.
- Analyzing competitive compensation data and trends.
- Applying market data to design competitive compensation programs.
5. Business Metrics and Performance Measurement:
- Identifying key business metrics and performance indicators.
- Linking performance measures to compensation programs.
- Using data-driven approaches to measure the effectiveness of compensation practices.
The objectives of the WorldatWork C8 exam are to assess a candidate's proficiency in the following areas:
1. Understanding the importance of business acumen in compensation practices.
2. Applying financial concepts and analysis techniques to compensation decision-making.
3. Aligning compensation programs with organizational strategy and structure.
4. Conducting industry and market analysis to inform compensation practices.
5. Using business metrics and performance measurement to evaluate compensation effectiveness.
The exam syllabus for the WorldatWork C8 exam covers the syllabus mentioned in the course outline. The syllabus may include questions related to business acumen principles, financial analysis, organizational strategy, market analysis, and performance measurement as they relate to compensation practices.
Candidates should refer to the official WorldatWork exam documentation and study resources for accurate and up-to-date information on the exam format, content, and requirements. It is recommended to allocate sufficient time for exam preparation, including studying the course materials, practicing application of business acumen concepts, and familiarizing oneself with relevant financial analysis tools and industry trends.
|Business Acumen for Compensation Professional|
Worldatwork Compensation learner
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Business Acumen for Compensation Professional
What question is answered by the organization’s mission statement?
A. What direction will we take?
B. How do we work?
C. Why are we in business?
D. How will we achieve our objectives?
What challenge is most likely faced by a business with low market share and high
A. Its ability to generate profits is unknown.
B. It is in the worst market position and has insufficient resources to continue
C. It is unclear how to best utilize the high cash flow to sustain growth.
D. Its excess resources are often used to develop other businesses that may not be
Which of the following factors has the greatest impact on how aggressive a stance (high
vs. low) an organization will take in terms of where it positions itself against the market
with its compensation strategy?
A. The industry it operates in
B. The bottom line
C. The organizational headcount
D. The risk tolerance of compensation leaders
Regarding key competencies for financial management, HR management and resource
management, what sets top performers apart?
A. The level of formal education in each area
B. The ability to prioritize which is most critical in any given situation and allocate time
and resources accordingly
C. The ability to tie them together, distill key messages and make impactful decisions
D. Effective interpersonal and communication skills that can overshadow minor
deficiencies in any one area
Quarterly financial reports typically include data for a given quarter compared to what?
A. The previous quarter
B. The budget
C. The same quarter in the previous year, plus the current six-month or nine-month
D. The aggregate performance of the same quarter in the previous three years
An organization whose focus is on obtaining capital, marketing products or services,
sales growth and cash conservation is most likely to be in what stage of the business
Which of the following best describes the most likely perspectives of different groups in
the organization that compensation professionals must be aware of?
A. Investors and Finance want to see money spent wisely. Legal must ensure
compliance, and HR and operating departments want to see their needs taken into
account to attract, retain and motivate a high quality workforce.
B. Operating departments and HR understand the company must live within its means
and Finance cannot allocate funds to a budget if it is likely that profitability will be
C. Investors want to maximize gains and want to see compensation tightly controlled
and Legal needs to ensure that compensation plans do not attract undue scrutiny.
D. Operating departments view compensation as it applies to them, HR must balance
available resources to attract, retain and motivate employees and Finance knows the
value of a motivated workforce and will provide the budget necessary to achieve it.
Gross margin is which of the following, as percent of revenue?
A. Revenue minus cost of goods sold
B. Expenses plus taxes and depreciation
C. Gross profit minus expenses
D. Cost of goods sold
Regarding fixed and variable costs, what are Finance’s primary concerns?
A. Fixed costs must be kept to a minimum, but variable costs can fluctuate since they
tend to correlate with revenue.
B. Variable costs often have a heavier focus than fixed costs, which applies to all areas,
C. Fixed costs and variable costs are equally important and both should be kept to a
D. Fixed costs are not a concern because they cannot be changed, so the focus is
primarily on variable costs.
In what stage of the business lifecycle do companies typically begin standardizing
procedures through policy creation?
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A robust compensation plan is crucial for attracting and keeping a quality team. A successful compensation strategy incorporates multiple elements beyond salary, including flexibility, employee benefits, paid time off (PTO) and much more.Â
Weâ€™ll detail compensation plan elements and explain how to develop and implement a competitive compensation plan that can boost recruitment and retention efforts while ensuring equity and fairness.Â
What is a compensation plan?
A compensation plan, also called a â€śtotal compensation plan,â€ť encompasses all of the compensatory components of a companyâ€™s strategy: employeesâ€™ wages, salaries, benefits and total payment terms. Employee compensation plans also include raise schedules, fringe benefits, union perks and employer-provided vendor discounts.
A strategically designed compensation philosophy that is kept current, relevant and compliant supports critical components of your business, including the following:
When your business maintains a robust compensation program, youâ€™ll enjoy the following benefits:Â
When youâ€™re writing a job offer letter, detail the positionâ€™s salary, commissions and pay schedule, and provide an overview of the benefits package and perks the employee will receive.
Why do companies need a compensation plan?
Companies need a thoughtful compensation program to stay competitive in their industry and attract and retain top talent. Employers that determine salaries and benefits without regard for industry data will slowly lose the talent game to competitors. Additionally, managing a workforce without a predetermined business budget is risky. Compensation programs allow for consistent and predictable budgeting and planning.
According to Payscaleâ€™s 2023 Compensation Best Practices Report, job seekers have the upper hand in todayâ€™s job market. To attract and retain the best workers, more organizations are focusing on building compensation packages that will help recruit employees in a tough labor market and keep them engaged and motivated.Â
What is direct and indirect compensation?
There are two types of foundational compensation:
Weâ€™ll take a closer look at direct and indirect compensation.Â Â
4 types of direct compensation
Most employers choose one type of direct compensation and stick to it. However, you can use various methods to compensate employees for their work. The exception is bonus pay, which is meant to be an addition to regular pay based on employee or company performance.
When youâ€™re deciding whether to pay employees a salary or an hourly wage, consider the type of work theyâ€™ll perform, applicable state laws and job market trends.
Types of indirect compensation
Indirect compensation can be any fringe benefit employers offer. Most commonly, it refers to the various insurance types employers offer in their employee benefits plans. For example, the employer may offer health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, short- and long-term disability insurance and vision insurance. Employee retirement plans, like 401(k) plans, are another common form of indirect compensation.
Equity-based programs are another compensation offering. However, these arenâ€™t typically offered within the small business realm. Equity-based compensation is generally some sort of share or stock in the company.
Other examples of indirect compensation include the following:
How to develop and implement a compensation plan
Thereâ€™s no one-size-fits-all strategy for developing a compensation plan. Rather, itâ€™s best to approach it in terms of whatâ€™s right for your team. Here are some suggestions to guide you along the way.
Commissions and bonuses are considered variable pay for sales employees. An employeeâ€™s base salary and variable pay are called the employeeâ€™s â€śpay mix.â€ť
How can you ensure equity, fairness, legality and competitiveness?
Part of developing a compensation plan is ensuring itâ€™s fair for all employees. This pertains to gender, culture, race and ethnicity, as well as to the skill sets and experience new team members bring to your company.
Before you unveil your compensation plan, address the following questions:Â
Itâ€™s crucial to keep your compensation plan active and relevant by adjusting it as necessary to stay compliant and continue attracting and retaining excellent employees.
Tracking commissions, bonuses and other compensation types can be daunting, but the best payroll services can streamline calculations, determine taxes and minimize errors.
Resources for creating compensation plans
Consider the following compensation planning and design companies that can guide you toward a fair, desirable compensation plan:Â
Performance management software can help with compensation management as well as succession planning and employee reviews.
Good compensation plans make good teams
A solid compensation plan should be a key component of any companyâ€™s strategy for attracting and retaining the best team members possible. There are many ways to offer a good compensation program to your employees based on your business needs and budget. Take the time necessary to develop a comprehensive program that works for your organization, and then communicate the plan effectively to everyone on your team. Do it right, and your employee morale and retention will increase substantially.
Natalie Hamingson contributed to this article.Â
Contributing Writer at businessnewsdaily.com
Patrick Proctor, SHRM-SCP, is certified as a senior professional in human resources. His more than 15 years of executive level leadership inform his work on inclusive and engaging workplace culture, as well as educating senior leadership teams about human capital management and organizational strategy. Patrick has written dozens of articles on global business, human resources operations, management and leadership, business technology, risk management, and continuity planning
The University of Nevada, Reno is committed to a comprehensive, fair and equitable compensation program in order to fulfill its mission as a land-grant and Tier 1 research university.
This program will focus on attracting, retaining, motivating, and rewarding a diverse, qualified, creative, and dedicated workforce. It will reflect the values, characteristics and mission of the University of Nevada, Reno which, as a state-assisted institution, bears the responsibility of administering resources devoted to faculty compensation in an efficient and effective way. Classified staff compensation is governed by the Nevada Legislature and Governor's office.
The University recognizes the intrinsic value of benefits afforded to its employees in addition to direct salary compensation. These benefits include health and wellness benefits, retirement programs, quality of work-life as evidenced by workplace conditions, staff, competitive salary and benefits, job security, safety and opportunities for development, and a challenging, empowering, and professional environment conducive to a high level of achievement in the context of an internationally recognized university setting. Within the boundaries of financial feasibility, faculty compensation shall be externally competitive and internally equitable and shall be based upon professional preparation and performance as recognized in the context of departmental requirements and expectations.
All employees have an annual base salary or hourly pay rate. Base salary can be increased through cost-of-living adjustments and merit increases. Additionally, faculty are eligible for academic promotions, administrative in-grade promotions or promotions to a new grade, equity adjustments, and/or compression/salary assessment study adjustments that impact base salary.
Overload, supplemental salary adjustments, stipends and temporary adjustments are available under specified conditions and do not impact base salary. Supplemental pay â€” overload, supplemental salary adjustments and stipends â€” may not exceed 50% of base salary. An increase or decrease in base salary may also occur through a transfer, reorganization or demotion.
Medscape's 2014 Physician Compensation Report provides the most accurate salary data from over 24,000 physicians across 25 specialties. See how much doctors are earning, learn about salary trends and find out how physicians are adapting to the new healthcare environment.
Workersâ€™ compensation insurance can help to protect your business and your employees when an employee is accidentally injured on the job. Each state has its own workersâ€™ compensation laws for both employers and employees, so itâ€™s important to know how the regulations affect your business.
What is workersâ€™ compensation?
Workersâ€™ compensation is an insurance program that provides benefits to employees who become injured or ill while doing their job. The insurance covers the employeeâ€™s medical costs, a portion of their lost wages while they were out of work, and their rehabilitation costs so they can return to work or find a new job.
Workersâ€™ compensation insurance also protects the employer by limiting its liability for legal claims when an employee sues the business for an illness or injury caused by work-related incidents.
What does workersâ€™ compensation cover?
Workersâ€™ compensation covers the following expenses:
Some insurance policies do not provide workersâ€™ compensation coverage across multiple states or when employees travel to different states. Under these circumstances, you need workersâ€™ compensation insurance in each state where your employees work.Â
Workersâ€™ compensation is a no-fault system. When an employee receives compensation for their injury or illness, they deliver up the right to sue their employer. However, workersâ€™ compensation will not cover your business if you purposefully harm an employee (e.g., assault, battery, fraud, defamation, emotional distress) or protect your business if your employee sues you for the following acts:
Some insurance policies do not provide workersâ€™ compensation coverage across multiple states or when employees travel to different states. In these cases, you need workersâ€™ compensation insurance in each state where your employees work.
Is there a cap on workersâ€™ compensation?
As with any commercial liability insurance policy, workersâ€™ compensation has a limit (or cap) on the amount a policy will pay out for a claim. However, workersâ€™ compensation limits are structured differently than other types of insurance policies.
State governments determine which types of employers must carry workersâ€™ compensation insurance, as well as the fines for not being covered, guidelines for reporting work-related injuries and medical care requirements. Workersâ€™ compensation insurance policies provide limits on employer liability and employee benefits.
What injuries qualify for workersâ€™ compensation?
Workersâ€™ compensation covers medical costs or death benefits that result from employee injuries that occur while the employee is doing their job or acting on your behalf. Examples include injuries or illnesses related to the following:
Different states exclude certain situations that can be covered by workersâ€™ compensation. Here are some examples of employee actions that would not qualify for workersâ€™ compensation:
How much does workersâ€™ compensation insurance cost?
In all applicable states, employers pay for workersâ€™ compensation insurance. The business pays a percentage of its total payroll costs. There are no employee payroll deductions for workersâ€™ compensation insurance.
State laws determine the details involving workersâ€™ compensation, including how much it costs. On average, it works out to $1 per $100 of payroll. Here are some factors that affect the cost of workersâ€™ compensation insurance:
Reducing workersâ€™ compensation insurance costs
Here are some ways employers can reduce their workersâ€™ compensation insurance costs:
Do employers have to carry workersâ€™ compensation?
Most businesses with one or more employees require some form of insurance (except Texas, where workersâ€™ compensation is optional). Whether your business and employees require this insurance will depend on the type of business and status of your employees. Each state has its own rules on what is covered, how it evaluates different issues, how injured employees receive medical care and which benefits an employee can receive.
The following types of employees are likely to be exempt from the workersâ€™ compensation insurance requirement:
How to get workersâ€™ compensation
Businesses can purchase workersâ€™ compensation insurance from state-funded programs or private insurance companies. Each state determines its workersâ€™ compensation policy requirements. When you purchase a policy, provide the following information so the insurance provider can determine your coverage and costs:
How to file a workersâ€™ compensation claim
When an employee becomes injured or ill on the job, the first task is to make sure the employee receives proper medical treatment. This may include calling an ambulance to take the injured or ill employee to the hospital.
The employer and employee have a limited amount of time (usually between 10 and 90 days) to submit the paperwork thatâ€™s required for the employee to receive workersâ€™ compensation benefits. The process for filing varies from state to state. However, if the claim is not filed within the required time, the claim can be denied.
When an employee is injured, the employer must do the following:
The employer must also provide the employee with information on their rights and workersâ€™ compensation benefits, as well as the procedure for returning to work.
After the illness or injury occurs, the employee must take the following steps:
The employer and employee have a limited amount of time (usually between 10 and 90 days) to submit the paperwork thatâ€™s required for the employee to receive workersâ€™ compensation benefits.
Information to include in a claim
A workersâ€™ compensation claim should include the following information:
How long do workersâ€™ compensation claims take?
The time required to complete a workersâ€™ compensation claim depends on state requirements, the time needed to investigate the claim and other factors. Once the employer files the claim, the insurance provider must determine whether to approve or reject the claim.
If the insurance provider approves the claim, the company will provide the affected employee with payment details. The insurance provider can deny the claim if the claim does not qualify for workersâ€™ compensation benefits. The rest of the workersâ€™ compensation process involves the employee, legal representation, medical professionals and insurance provider.
There are several facets of a workers comp policy, including:
A workers compensation insurance policy offers coverage for injured or ill employeesâ€™ medical treatment when the cause relates to their job. This can include payment for doctorâ€™s visits, emergency room visits, surgery, medication and ongoing care.
Medical expenses related to Covid might be covered, depending on your state and occupation. The National Council on Compensation Insurance tracks legislation related to workers comp coverage of Covid.
When an employee is injured or becomes ill because of their job, it often leads to time off for healing. During this time, your workers compensation insurance typically pays partial wages. This helps ensure the affected parties still have income during their recovery period.
If your employee sustains a job-related injury or illness that results in a disability, full or partial disability benefits can help your employee pay their medical bills and supplement some of their lost wages.
Disability benefit classifications
If an employee has a work-related injury or illness that requires extended care, workers compensation insurance can help pay for ongoing care like physical therapy.
If the worst happens and your employee dies from a work-related injury or illness, your workers compensation insurance will usually cover funeral and burial expenses as well as survivor benefits for their beneficiaries
Total compensation is an incredibly effective tool to utilize when attracting top talent and informing team members about the value of their benefits from your company. Understanding what total compensation is and how it works is essential to winning and retaining top talent. Additionally, it helps companies more thoroughly assess the total cost of a hire so they can budget accordingly.
What is total compensation?
Total compensation is the collective compensation you provide to your employees in return for their services. It includes the employeeâ€™s base salary (how much you pay the employee as either the hourly rate or their annual salary), the total dollar amount of the fringe benefits you offer (health insurance, paid time off, retirement plan, profit sharing, gym membership, etc.), bonuses and/or commissions.
Employers can show employees (or potential employees) the total value of the compensation and benefits they receive by supplying them with a total compensation document.
What are the differences between salary and total compensation?
Salary is the fixed sum employees are paid each pay period.
Total compensation encompasses the base salary the employee receives plus other money, such as paid time off and health insurance. In other words, salary is one element of an employeeâ€™s total compensation.
One reason a company may review oneâ€™s total compensation, as opposed to salary alone, is that any useful budget needs to reflect the cumulative costs of each employee.
What is total compensation vs. total rewards?
Total rewards address the policies, programs, and practices that provide employees with a valued and desired reward infrastructure. In addition to compensation, your workplace culture, quality of life, and work-life flexibility are all part of a total rewards program thatâ€™s essential to attracting and retaining top talent.
When it comes down to it, companies choose whether they want to reference â€śtotal compensationâ€ť or â€śtotal rewardsâ€ť within their vocabulary. Although they do not have the same meaning, the overlap and similarities between the two commonly result in companies using one term or the other, but rarely both.Â
What is included in total compensation?
The most common benefits employers include within their total compensation package, and statement, include, but are not limited to:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, benefits (or non-salary-related compensation), on average, comprise roughly 30 percent of an employeeâ€™s total compensation.
Why is total compensation important?
Total compensation, and having an effective compensation management program, is important to winning and retaining talent within your industry. Employees are looking for, and expect to find, compensation packages that are comprehensive and meaningful to them.
If your company doesnâ€™t offer a good benefits package, candidates may spurn your job offer for one from a company that is extending the benefits they want. And for your existing employees, they may leave for another job offering better benefits than what you offer.
Total compensation is discussed earlier in the recruiting process than it used to be. Applicants prefer to hear about compensation and benefits during the interview process now. One of the many reasons for this is the uniqueness of applicantsâ€™ needs. For example, student loan assistance, work flexibility, and career advancement are sought-after benefits, and if youâ€™re willing to offer these perks to new hires, discussing these perks, along with the job duties, can ensure that you capture â€“ and retain â€“ candidatesâ€™ interest and enthusiasm throughout the recruiting and onboarding process.
How do you determine total compensation?
There are many formulas for determining total compensation. The truth is, many strategies can work, as long as the basic aspects are included. One way that organizations achieve this objective is with total compensation calculators.
In addition to the use of calculators, assess the value of each benefit you provide to your workers. Most of the common benefits have monetized values listed next to them. What portion do you pay for medical and/or dental insurance? How many paid time-off (PTO) days do employees get? How much is the company match for your retirement account?
How can payroll and HR software help you manage total compensation?
Since total compensation comprises many aspects, it can be tough to manage manually. Instead, robust payroll solutions and top-rated HR software can help manage and administer total compensation. The right systems streamline processes, ensure accuracy and provide valuable insights on compensation-related data.
Payroll processing automation
Manually calculating payroll can take hours or even days. Payroll and HR software can automate this process for you, saving you a significant amount of time and effort. Automating the calculation of salaries, taxes and deductions can also help reduce the risk of errors and ensure accurate payouts. If you are looking for software with comprehensive payroll features, check out our review of Gusto.
Bonus/commission calculation and distribution
If you have a bonus or commission program, you already know that calculating and distributing funds can be a complex and time-consuming process. Many HR software providers, like BambooHR (read our BambooHR review), offer performance management features to help track employee performance. That data can then be tied to performance-based bonuses. Payroll software can automate these bonuses and commissions for you, ensuring your employees are compensated fairly and accurately.
Employee benefits administration
HR software helps administer and track all employeesâ€™ benefits, including health insurance, retirement savings plans and paid time off. This ensures your employees are receiving the benefits they are entitled to. Most systems also have a guided enrollment feature to help employees select benefits. If benefits administration is a top priority for you, read our review of ADP. The HR solution has comprehensive offerings.
Compensation benchmarking and reporting
Payroll and HR software can be used to generate a variety of compensation reports, such as salary reports, bonus reports and benefits reports. These reports can help you to track your compensation trends, benchmark compensation against industry standards, identify potential areas of overpaying or underpaying, and make informed decisions about your compensation strategy. In our review of Paycor, you can learn more about how the HR software can help with reporting and analytics.
How do candidates assess total compensation?
Candidates are savvy when assessing job offers. Some add the cumulative value of all the benefits presented within a total compensation plan and divide that by the number of hours typically worked within a year to get the total compensation hourly rate. That is how some candidates compare apples to apples (if there are multiple job offers).
Here is an example:
Some fringe benefits are difficult to place a numeric value on, such as the ability to work from home or a highly flexible schedule. Putting a value on those benefits is difficult. For some, it is worth more than health insurance, while others may prefer to work a predictable schedule that never fluctuates.
Adding a summary or narrative section to your total compensation (or total rewards) statement can help paint this picture for candidates and employees alike. Customizing total compensation documents when soliciting top talent or hard-to-find subject matter experts (SMEs) is also recommended. If you can tailor your narrative to attract a specific candidate, it may prove to be more persuasive.
How do you market total compensation to employees?
Total compensation plans are an opportunity to promote your company to candidates and current employees through tangible data that shows the value they get when working for your organization.
For your existing employees, creating and implementing a total compensation (even better, your total rewards) program helps keep team members engaged, lowers turnover and increases a companyâ€™s return on investment.
Total compensation statements are the best tool for achieving this objective. A total compensation statement should be one or two pages long, and it should show what benefits are being offered to candidates or are enjoyed by employees.
Although the appearance can vary, the content is essentially the same. The goal is to list the totality of your compensation program. If you can itemize the cost of a benefit or perk, include it in your statement.
Skye Schooley contributed to this article.
When it comes to compensation, the more you make, the more you pay â€” in taxes, that is.
So if your employer provides you with the option of deferred compensation, it can be an intriguing way to put off that tax burden. However, weighing all the benefits and drawbacks can help you determine if using deferred compensation fits in well with your overall financial plan.
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What is deferred compensation?
Broadly speaking, deferred compensation refers to any and all compensation plans that allow you to postpone a portion of your income to the future, reducing your current taxable income. This includes both qualified and nonqualified deferred compensation plans.
Qualified deferred compensation plans â€” 401(k)s, profit-sharing plans, incentive stock options, pensions â€” are protected by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, which sets strict fiduciary standards for employee benefit plans. For instance, all employees must have plan access, there are restrictions on plan contribution amounts, and plan assets must be held in a separate trust account out of reach of creditors.
Here we focus solely on nonqualified deferred compensation plans, also called supplemental executive retirement plans or elective deferral plans, which are not required to follow ERISA guidelines. NQDC plans can offer further flexibility and options for the employee; however, this also means they carry additional risk.
These plans have been dubbed â€śgolden handcuffs'' because they're often used as a retention tool for key talent or highly compensated employees. The significant reduction in taxable income is extremely attractive, or â€śgolden.â€ť Since plans may require that you stay with your employer to receive the deferred income, youâ€™re â€śhandcuffedâ€ť or heavily incentivized to remain with your company for the longer term.
One common type of deferred compensation is the 457 plan, which refers to employer-sponsored NQDC plans typically available to governmental employees (local and state) along with certain nongovernmental organizations, such as nonprofits.
How deferred compensation works
Those eligible to participate in a deferred compensation plan will generally need to adhere to certain procedures. To participate, there may be a defined enrollment period, and youâ€™ll need to establish a written agreement with your employer designating details such as:
Â» Other ways to save for college: Learn about 529 plans
Benefits of deferred compensation
There are compelling reasons to consider NQDC plans, especially for highly compensated employees.
When you defer receiving income, you also defer paying federal and state taxes on that income until itâ€™s paid out to you. This can be especially appealing if youâ€™re currently in a high tax bracket and expect to be in a lower tax bracket in the future. You can take advantage of reducing your present taxable income and scheduling your distributions to arrive in lower tax bracket years.
Not only do you benefit from deferring income taxes until later, but the money youâ€™ve socked away in your deferred compensation plan grows tax-deferred as well. This means youâ€™re not responsible for paying taxes on your investment growth until distribution.
Since NQDC plans arenâ€™t subject to ERISA standards, thereâ€™s no cap on your contribution amount. Traditional retirement plans and accounts can be insufficient for helping highly compensated employees adequately save for retirement. A supplemental NQDC plan can be an attractive way to generate additional retirement savings and income.
With deferred compensation plans, employees can choose when to receive distributions. Your plan may allow you to schedule â€śin-serviceâ€ť withdrawals or distributions so you can access your deferred income prior to retirement to meet other financial goals or obligations. For example, at different points over the years, you may want to buy a new home or pay your childâ€™s college expenses. You can schedule income distribution to meet those needs.
Compared with other retirement accounts such as 401(k)s or traditional IRAs, NQDC plans can offer more flexibility; there are no age restrictions on withdrawals and no required minimum distributions.
There are significant reasons to be cautious when deciding whether to move forward with an NQDC plan.
Since assets are not held in a separate trust and are commingled with company funds, you could suffer a complete loss if your company encounters financial hardship. And leaving your employer could mean forfeiture of your deferred income. Making sure to read through the fine print of your companyâ€™s NQDC plan can help you understand the risks and stipulations related to your future payout.
Because receiving the income you deferred isn't guaranteed, itâ€™s critical to consider the financial health of your employer when deciding whether to participate in your NQDC plan. Advisors often suggest maxing out all other qualified plans before contributing to the NQDC plan (since qualified plans have ERISA protections) and considering short-term deferral periods if you have concerns about your companyâ€™s future outlook.
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After selecting your distribution date, it can be difficult to make any changes, so tread carefully when timing your deferral period. Many employees with access to NQDC plans may have additional forms of equity compensation with a timing element, such as restricted stock units or stock options. Taking a holistic approach can help you plan out your income stream and minimize your potential tax burden.
In addition, there are some limitations to NQDC plans compared with qualified retirement plans such as 401(k)s. Employees cannot take loans from their deferred compensation plan. And upon receiving plan distributions, funds cannot be rolled into an IRA or other tax-deferred retirement vehicle.
The range of investment options that you can designate for bookkeeping purposes varies from employer to employer. Some plans may offer as many investment choices as in your companyâ€™s 401(k) investment menu. Other plans may be more restrictive, offering only limited or expensive investment choices, or potentially only company shares. It could add risk to your overall investment portfolio if youâ€™re overly exposed to your companyâ€™s stock or unable to sufficiently diversify your portfolio.
Some employees intend to change residency to a lower-tax state upon retirement and consider deferring compensation until theyâ€™ve done so. However, certain states base deferred compensation taxes on your elected payout period; for payout periods less than 10 years, you may be required to pay taxes to the state in which the compensation was earned.
And, the tax code changes all the time. When planning far ahead, itâ€™s hard to know what to expect.
With deferred compensation plans, the devil is in the details. Though there are many benefits to participating, NQDC plans bear some important risks. Consulting with a trusted financial advisor to plan out your current and future financial situation can help you decide whether to take advantage of your deferred compensation plan.
A recently filed lawsuit is challenging the constitutionality of the federal Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP).
In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana last month, attorneys for a group of plaintiffs alleging they have been seriously injured after they "did the right thing" and received a COVID-19 vaccine wrote that the CICP is the "epitome of a kangaroo court or a star chamber -- a proceeding that ignores recognized standards of law and justice, is grossly unfair, and comes to a predetermined conclusion."
The CICP is meant to provide compensation for serious injury or death as a result of the administration of a countermeasure, such as vaccines, to address a public health emergency, according to the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), a division of HHS. Both HRSA and HHS are named as defendants in the case.
But the plaintiffs argued that the court should "strike down" the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act of 2005 that was used to create the CICP "to the extent it fails to provide basic due process protections, transparency, and judicial oversight."
"The CICP as it functions now is fundamentally inconsistent with Congress' intent," the complaint noted. "CICP claims are consistently lost, ignored, denied, or caught up in the years-long purgatory of government bureaucracy."
In an email to MedPage Today, Aaron Siri, JD, the managing partner of Siri & Glimstad, who is representing the plaintiffs, wrote that "leading up to when we filed, there had been hope that Congress was going to correct the serious issue of failing to provide often desperately needed support for those injured by COVID-19 vaccines."
However, to date, there has been little in the way of resolution or compensation for plaintiffs "wholly consumed by survival needs," but who "recognize the importance of the challenge they currently bring" to the court, the complaint noted.
As of October 1, there have been 12,233 CICP claims related to COVID countermeasures. The CICP has compensated six of those claims -- five for myocarditis and one for anaphylaxis.
Though the average payout related to COVID countermeasures has been less than $3,000, the CICP's average payout on injuries tied to the H1N1 flu vaccine was more than $198,000, according to the complaint.
"It's got legs," Katharine Van Tassel, JD, MPH, of Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, told MedPage Today. "I think it's a good case."
A significant concern is that a lack of compensation will fuel anti-vaccination efforts, she explained, noting that she believes there may be similar legal challenges to the CICP's constitutionality that follow suit.
RenĂ©e Gentry, JD, director of the Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic at George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C., said that the "best way to preserve" an effective vaccination program is to "have a safety net under it."
"That's the real fear, that when the next pandemic comes ... now you've got a group of people who were pro-vaccine who now are going to think twice," she told MedPage Today.
Overall, the current lawsuit alleges that the CICP claims submission and review process is "shrouded in secrecy," including "undefined standards" and "no clear process or timeline" for review. The government also does not provide the opportunity for discovery nor does it identify expert witnesses in making determinations.
The CICP "appears unable to adequately compensate -- further evidence that the program is simply theatre," the complaint noted. "If COVID-19 claims were compensated at CICP's historical rate, CICP would face around $21.16 million in compensation outlays and $317.94 million in total outlays which is 72.1 times its current balance."
Furthermore, the CICP "fundamentally differs" from other compensation programs in its lack of judicial oversight, the complaint added. For instance, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 -- which led to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) -- is subject to judicial oversight from the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
Since 1988, total compensation paid over the life of the VICP program is approximately $5 billion, according to HRSA data. (The program is funded by a $0.75 excise tax on vaccines recommended by the CDC for routine administration to children, while the CICP is backed by appropriated funds.)
Ultimately, the plaintiffs in the case are asking the court to declare unconstitutional the provisions that established the CICP, and prohibit these provisions from being enforced until all COVID vaccine injury claims are allowed to be brought to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, or the CICP is reformed.
Neither HHS nor HRSA immediately responded to requests for comment on the lawsuit.
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