29 CFR § 4.175 - Meeting requirements for health, welfare, and/or pension benefits.

§ 4.175 Meeting requirements for health, welfare, and/or pension benefits.

(a) Determining the required amount of benefits.

(1) Most fringe benefit determinations containing health and welfare and/or pension requirements specify a fixed payment per hour on behalf of each service employee. These payments are usually also stated as weekly or monthly amounts. As set forth in § 4.172, unless specified otherwise in the applicable determination such payments are due for all hours paid for, including paid vacation, sick leave, and holiday hours, up to a maximum of 40 hours per week and 2,080 hours per year on each contract. The application of this rule can be illustrated by the following examples:

(i) An employee who works 4 days a week, 10 hours a day is entitled to 40 hours of health and welfare and/or pension fringe benefits. If an employee works 3 days a week, 12 hours a day, then such employee is entitled to 36 hours of these benefits.

(ii) An employee who works 32 hours in a workweek and also receives 8 hours of holiday pay is entitled to the maximum of 40 hours of health and welfare and/or pension payments in that workweek. If the employee works more than 32 hours and also received 8 hours of holiday pay, the employee is still only entitled to the maximum of 40 hours of health and welfare and/or pension payments.

(iii) If an employee is off work for two weeks on vacation and received 80 hours of vacation pay, the employee must also receive payment for the 80 hours of health and welfare and/or pension benefits which accrue during the vacation period.

(iv) An employee entitled to two weeks paid vacation who instead works the full 52 weeks in the year, receiving the full 2,080 hours worth of health and welfare and/or pension benefits, would be due an extra 80 hours of vacation pay in lieu of actually taking the vacation; however, such an employee would not be entitled to have an additional 80 hours of health and welfare and/or pension benefits included in his vacation pay.

(2) A fringe benefit determination calling for a specified benefit such as health insurance contemplates a fixed and definite contribution to a “bona fide” plan (as that term is defined in § 4.171) by an employer on behalf of each employee, based on the monetary cost to the employer rather than on the level of benefits provided. Therefore, in determining compliance with an applicable fringe benefit determination, the amount of the employer's contribution on behalf of each individual employee governs. Thus, as set forth in § 4.172, if a determination should require a contribution to a plan providing a specified fringe benefit and that benefit can be obtained for less than the required contribution, it would be necessary for the employer to make up the difference in cash to the employee, or furnish equivalent benefits, or a combination thereof. The following illustrates the application of this principle: A fringe benefit determination requires a rate of $36.40 per month per employee for a health insurance plan. The employer obtains the health insurance coverage specified at a rate of $20.45 per month for a single employee, $30.60 for an employee with spouse, and $40.90 for an employee with a family. The employer is required to make up the difference in cash or equivalent benefits to the first two classes of employees in order to satisfy the determination, notwithstanding that coverage for an employee would be automatically changed by the employer if the employee's status should change (e.g., single to married) and notwithstanding that the employer's average contribution per employee may be equal to or in excess of $36.40 per month.

(3) In determining eligibility for benefits under certain wage determinations containing hours or length of service requirements (such as having to work 40 hours in the preceding month), the contractor must take into account time spent by employees on commercial work as well as time spent on the Government contract.

(b) Some fringe benefit determinations specifically provide for health and welfare and/or pension benefits in terms of average cost. Under this concept, a contractor's contributions per employee to a “bona fide” fringe benefit plan are permitted to vary depending upon the individual employee's marital or employment status. However, the firm's total contributions for all service employees enrolled in the plan must average at least the fringe benefit determination requirement per hour per service employee. If the contractor's contributions average less than the amount required by the determination, then the firm must make up the deficiency by making cash equivalent payments or equivalent fringe benefit payments to all service employees in the plan who worked on the contract during the payment period. Where such deficiencies are made up by means of cash equivalent payments, the payments must be made promptly on the following payday. The following illustrates the application of this principle: The determination requires an average contribution of $0.84 an hour. The contractor makes payments to bona fide fringe benefit plans on a monthly basis. During a month the firm contributes $15,000 for the service employees employed on the contract who are enrolled in the plan, and a total of 20,000 man-hours had been worked by all service employees during the month. Accordingly, the firm's average cost would have been $15,000÷20,000 hours or $0.75 per hour, resulting in a deficiency of $0.09 per hour. Therefore, the contractor owes the service employees in the plan who worked on the contract during the month an additional $0.09 an hour for each hour worked on the contract, payable on the next regular payday for wages. Unless otherwise provided in the applicable wage determination, contributions made by the employer for non- service employees may not be credited toward meeting Service Contract Act fringe benefit obligations.

(c) Employees not enrolled in or excluded from participating in fringe benefit plans.

(1) Some health and welfare and pension plans contain eligibility exclusions for certain employees. For example, temporary and part-time employees may be excluded from participating in such plans. Also, employees receiving benefits through participation in plans of an employer other than the Government contractor or by a spouse's employer may be prevented from receiving benefits from the contractor's plan because of prohibitions against “double coverage”. While such exclusions do not invalidate an otherwise bona fide insurance plan, employer contributions to such a plan cannot be considered to be made on behalf of the excluded employees. Accordingly, under fringe benefit determination requirements as described in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, the employees excluded from participation in the health insurance plan must be furnished equivalent bona fide fringe benefits or be paid a cash equivalent payment during the period that they are not eligible to participate in the plan.

(2) It is not required that all employees participating in a fringe benefit plan be entitled to receive benefits from that plan at all times. For example, under some plans, newly hired employees who are eligible to participate in an insurance plan from their first day of employment may be prohibited from receiving benefits from the plan during a specified “waiting period”. Contributions made on behalf of such employees would serve to discharge the contractor's obligation to furnish the fringe benefit. However, if no contributions are made for such employees, no credit may be taken toward the contractor's fringe benefit obligations.

(d) Payment of health and welfare and pension benefits.

(1) Health and welfare and/or pension payments to a “bona fide” insurance plan or trust program may be made on a periodic payment basis which is not less often than quarterly. However, where fringe benefit determinations contemplate a fixed contribution on behalf of each employee, and a contractor exercises his option to make hourly cash equivalent or differential payments, such payments must be made promptly on the regular payday for wages. (See § 4.165.)

(2) The rules and regulations for furnishing health and welfare and pension benefits to temporary and part-time employees are discussed in § 4.176.

(3) The rules and regulations for furnishing equivalent fringe benefits or cash equivalents in lieu of health and welfare and pension benefits are discussed in § 4.177.

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