DOD’s blog: view from the United States of America

How close is the special relationship when it comes to reward?

This week, I spent a couple of fascinating days at the WorldatWork Total Rewards 2013 conference in Philadelphia, USA. My key goal was to find out the big trends emerging this side of the pond.

The obvious, all-consuming topic, is that of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that comes into effect in 2014 (I will no doubt be putting together a bluffer’s guide to the ACA in the next few days).

But what struck me is how the ACA is to American employers, what pensions auto-enrolment is to UK employers.

In both cases, employers have had to take a decision on what they are going to do about it, how they are going to manage their lower-paid and part-time staff (should they be caught in the net), and what the cost implications are.

But on the American side there appears to be a much stronger emphasis on what the exact penalties will be for employers, whereas penalties have not got as much airtime in the UK for non-compliance. Is this a cultural difference?

The aspect that made me smile, wryly, is that our American peers are getting frustrated at waiting for the final details of the legislation. It was promised in March, but no sign of it yet. Anyone in the UK feel a sense of deja vu with waiting for final legislation and auto-enrolment?

I am sure we can wish our US colleagues well, and feel a touch of sympathy as they embark on a change that will have wide-ranging impacts on their benefits plans.

Debi O’Donovan
Employee Benefits

Twitter: @DebiODonovan