I’ve had to lay people off. What are my COBRA responsibilities?

February 17, 2023

As an HR professional, you may have employees who have been laid off recently. If you manage more than 20 employees, COBRA will be available to those employees.

As you know, COBRA is a federal law that allows employees to continue their health insurance for a limited time after they've been laid off. Eligible employees can continue their coverage for up to 18 months (or longer depending on the qualifying event for termination).

It's important to note that while COBRA provides continuity of coverage, it can be expensive for the employee. Employees typically experience sticker shock when they see they are responsible for paying the full premium, including the portion that was previously paid by your organization.

As an HR Professional who might be managing your own COBRA Administration, there are important responsibilities to stay on top of:

  1. Notifying employees of their initial rights: When an employee first joins the employer’s group health plan, HR professionals are required to notify employees and covered spouses of their COBRA rights (commonly referred to as the General Notice).
  2. Notifying employees of coverage after a qualifying event: Once an employee is laid off, or another qualifying event has occurred, you are required to notify the employee of their election rights to continue coverage with COBRA.
  3. Invoicing and premiums collection: You will need to set up a process to invoice and collect premiums owed by the employee and integrate those payments with billings from the health insurance administrator for all active employees.

Understanding your responsibilities when it comes to COBRA coverage is important in helping employees maintain their health coverage when experiencing a layoff. By providing eligible employees with information about their COBRA rights and ensuring that COBRA coverage is properly administered, HR professionals can help ease the burden during an already difficult time, as well as ensure compliance with employer laws surrounding COBRA regulations.

At Techworks we recognize the challenge you might be experiencing with regards to exiting employees and handling the overhead that comes with COBRA administration. Techworks’ benefits partner, Get-Benefits, takes the burden of administering COBRA off your shoulders and handles the entire process for you. If you have questions or would like more information, contact us today.

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I’ve had to lay people off.  What are my COBRA responsibilities?

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