Can an employer change insurance policies without giving the employees any notice?
UPDATED: February 7, 2020
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Absent a union contract, or an agreement that runs to the benefit of the employees (such as an employment agreement), employers are generally able to change employer sponsored insurance policy at any time, with or without permission of employees. Employers never have to put the issue to a vote of employees, and while they are compelled to act in accordance with ERISA and other laws, there is no obligation to stay with the same insurance company. As a matter of good labor relations, most employers do try to give as much advance notice to their employees as possible if the employer's insurance policy will be changed; however, this is sometimes impossible due to negotiations with various insurance carriers lasting through the final moments of the process.
What Employers Can Do With Employer-Sponsored Insurance
The employer retains the right to change its sponsored insurance plans for any reason including maintenance of its insurance costs. This is true regardless of whether or not the employees will have to pay more in fees in order to keep their health benefits. In most cases, most employers also have the right to disband insurance offerings to employees. This means that any time the policy is up for reinstatement or enrollment, your employer could decide not to offer insurance anymore and drop all coverage. Most employers are courteous enough to inform employees of these decisions in advance so that they have the opportunity to make decisions about their health insurance, but the fact remains they don’t have to.
What Employers Can't Do With Employer-Sponsored Insurance
What an employer can’t do is discriminate against its employees to determine who gets health benefits and who doesn't. Only a distinction between probationary/part-time employees and full-time employees can be made. Discrimination laws mandated by the federal government forbid any employer from discriminating against any employee in terms of insurance because of age, gender, race, or current health condition.
If you believe your employer has violated a legal rule in changing or altering your insurance, it is in your best interests to consult with a lawyer for help and advice.