Health and employee welfare

Health insurance

The escalation in cost for health coverage for employees has been one of the largest single factors in undermining global cost competitiveness of US companies. Either companies have carried the brunt, or employees have carried more of the burden, or the quality and breadth of employee coverage has been lessened. IFAI believes that everyone should have access to affordable health care coverage and members should have flexibility in designing coverage packages that both attract good employees and maintain a balance of quality and shared financial responsibility. The transformation to an improved health care system, with greater access to more efficient, higher quality and affordable health care, requires the collaboration of public and private stakeholders along with individual consumers.

IFAI supports:

  • Maintaining employers flexibility in determining how to best meet the needs of their employees.
  • In order to reduce the cost of health care: 
    • To allow individuals to purchase private health insurance with pre-tax dollars
    • To clarify the legality of payroll deductions from employee payment of individual insurance policy premiums in order to encourage and simplify the purchase of health insurance
    • To expand insurance coverage through the private insurance market versus increasing membership in existing government programs
    • Free clinics and community networks that provide safety net services, education and primary care that reduces costs for consumers, employers and taxpayers
  • A more transparent system which provides all stakeholders ready access to appropriate and relative information at the right time.
  • Policies that encourage and incent both public and private health plans to implement a comprehensive health management approach that combines preventive services, behavioral change tools, disease and case management, wellness programs and better assessment of employee health risks. Employees should be incentivized to achieve better health outcomes.

IFAI opposes:

  • Government mandates that increase the cost of health plans and dissuade employers from providing this voluntary benefit
  • Any federal effort to weaken or eliminate the Employee Retirement Security Act (ERISA)
  • Mandates from the federal government dictating the design of health care programs thereby increasing cost and decreasing flexibility.

Occupational health and safety

IFAI recognizes the obligation of employers to provide a safe workplace, free of hazard and unnecessary risk. This can only be met in cooperation with a well educated workforce, fully conversant with the risk management process and willing to accept responsibility for the individual actions necessary to mitigate that risk.

Related to this is the recognition of the rights of individuals within the workplace to be free of discrimination of any kind and to be protected from harassment.

IFAI supports:

  • A nationally consistent, effective and balanced Workplace Health and Safety regulatory regime
  • Workers Compensation Insurance premiums that reflect employer safety record and performance, and a realistic appraisal of the risks associated with Specialty fabric manufacturing, conversion and installation
  • Tax incentives for relevant training programs
  • The promotion of uniform Health and Safety legislation in all countries
  • Equal Employment Opportunity but not Affirmative Action per se

IFAI opposes:

  • Attempts to hold company directors and officers strictly liable for injuries that occur in the workplace unless there is clear evidence of undue negligence
  • Discrimination in employment practices on the grounds of race, gender, religious belief, sexual preference, age or marital status

Workforce education

IFAI believes that a capable workforce is critical to the future success of its members and all efforts should be made to team with all appropriate institutions to ensure our companies have the talent they need to remain competitive. We believe strategies that link education and workforce development in a system of skills based learning into academic instruction are absolutely necessary.

To achieve this goal, IFAI supports:

  • Efforts to increase graduation rates, post secondary enrollment rates and improve workforce readiness skills
  • The growth and continuation of the Career Readiness Certificate Program
  • Efforts to improve training of educators
  • Efforts by Technical Colleges
  • A closer working relationship with the K-12 education system
  • A consistent, challenging and rigorous curriculum aligned to the highest international standards
  • Curriculums which incorporate career and technical education
  • Improved linkage between industry and education and training institutions
  • Effective “hands on” learning programs
  • Improved workforce training programs within the industry
  • Adult and continuing education programs

Trade unions

IFAI respects the rights of labor for free association and collective action provided it is directly relevant to the promotion of employee welfare and not exploited for nonrelated political ends. The organizers of such actions should recognize the freedom of employers to engage directly with their employees.

IFAI supports:

  • The freedom of employees to freely choose whether or not to belong to a trade union without the fear of employer or union intimidation or retribution
  • Compulsory secret ballots for all official union appointments and/or decisions to commence industrial action