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Learning the Acronyms Associated With Human Resources

Jeff Welcher

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Entering any new job is an exciting time, but this time is also filled with unpredictable frustrations and fast-paced learning. Nothing is a finer example of this than industry-specific acronyms. All jobs have them, with more and more being officially and unofficially created all the time. Increased productivity means increased speed, and increased speed creates a need for abbreviations and faster communication.

These acronyms fill our lives, from ATM to DVD to MP3 to RSVP - but of course these examples are easy and fairly universal. Companies and industries on the other hand, now that's where one's mind and mouth are easy confused. Recently I found myself Master's educated and starting a new job in the human resources field. Not only did I really have no idea what I was doing, but my new field was so full of acronyms you'd think the position would come with flashcards. Being so quickly immersed in the field of benefits and payroll, I was totally confused by the abbreviations being thrown at me. Now that I have a handle on it, I hope to lend some light into the acronyms that are now part of my daily vernacular.

ACH - Automated Clearing House

COBRA - Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985

DCAP - Dependent Care Assistance Program

EAP - Employee Assistance Program

EPO - Exclusive Provider Organization

ERISA - Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974

FICA - Federal Insurance Contributions Act

FSA - Flexible Spending Account

HIPAA - Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

HMO - Health Maintenance Organization

HRIS - Human Resource Information Systems

NYSDBL - New York State Disability Benefits

PEO - Professional Employer Organization

POP - Premium Only Plan

PPO - Preferred Provider Organization

For me this list would have been of great help during my initial confusion in the benefits, payroll and human resources field. So here's hoping others can get some use out of it!

I could go on and on (and those interested in further information can feel free to email me at jwelcher {at} gmr-usa {dot} com for an attachment with over 50 popular human resources acronyms), however I think any novice will do well with the basic list provided above

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Jeff Welcher is an employee benefits consultant at CompPayPlus, located in Rochester, NY and serving all 50 states. He is a Master's graduate of the Annenberg School of Communication (USC) and is an avid golfer and mountain biker.

CompPayPlus can be found at


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