Healthcare Human Resources Terms Glossary

The complexities of HR processes in the healthcare space can be overwhelming for even the seasoned professional, which is why Empeon is here to help.

We know the HR needs of healthcare organizations are unique, and demand tailoring to the meet the specific needs of your operation.

Our healthcare human resources glossary compiles the most common terms, acronyms and buzzwords in the HR healthcare space, to equip all HR professionals for success, regardless of experience.

Healthcare Specific Acronyms:

SNF: Skilled Nursing Facility

LNHA: Licensed Nursing Home Administrator

OPWDD: Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

CDPAP: Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program

EVV: Electronic Visit Verification

PCA: Personal Care Assistant

EMR: Electronic Medical Record

EHR: Electronic Health Record

HHA: Home Health Aide

CNA: Certified Nursing Assistant

RN: Registered Nurse

HCBS: Home and Community Based Services

PBJ: Payroll Based Journal

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has long identified staffing as a vital component of a nursing home’s ability to provide quality care — that’s why it’s used in the Nursing Home Five-Star Quality Rating System.
  • Section 6106 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires facilities to electronically submit direct care staffing (including agency and contract staff) and census information on a quarterly basis. CMS has named their reporting system the Payroll-Based Journal (PBJ).
  • Staffing information is also posted on the CMS Nursing Home Compare website to help consumers understand the differences in levels of care and staffing in nursing homes.
  • The PBJ reporting requirements mean that organizations must track additional information about their staffing, including hours worked for each individual as well as position and pay classification worked.

HPPD: Hours per patient day

  • used for budgeting/scheduling

HCM + Payroll Acronyms

ACA: The Affordable Care Act

ATS: Applicant Tracking System

COBRA: Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act

  • COBRA gives workers and their families the right to choose to continue group health benefits for limited periods of time if they lose their benefits because of job loss, reduction in hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events. President Ronald Reagan signed COBRA into law on April 7, 1986.

DOL: Department of Labor

  • The Department of Labor administers federal labor laws to guarantee workers’ rights to fair, safe, and healthy working conditions. These laws include minimum wage and overtime pay, unemployment insurance, and protection against employment discrimination.

DBA: Doing Business As

EAP: Employee Assistance Program

  • An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems.

EEO: Equal Employment Opportunity

  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws prohibit specific types of job discrimination in certain workplaces.

FMLA: Family Medical Leave Act

  • The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a United States federal law requiring covered employers to provide employees job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons. President Bill Clinton signed the FMLA into law on February 5, 1993.

FEIN: Federal Employment Identification Number

  • An FEIN is used by the IRS to identify a business entity. Also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number. Sometimes referred to as EIN (Employer Identification Number).

FSA: Flexible Spending Account (healthcare benefit)


FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions


FT: Full Time

FTE: Full Time Equivalent

  • A full-time equivalent employee is a summation of part-time employees that are equal to one full-time employee. Full-time employees are defined as working an average of 30 hours per week or 130 hours per calendar month. The FTE count is calculated by adding up the hours worked by part-time employees during the month and dividing by 120. The total is added to the number of full-time employees to determine if an employer is an Applicable Large Employer (ALE).

HIPAA: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996

  • The HIPAA protects health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose jobs and requires the establishment of national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans, and employers. Bill Clinton signed the HIPAA into law on August 21, 1996.

HCE: Highly Compensated Employee

  • highly compensated employee (HCE) owns at least 5% of the company and earns more than the federal predetermined compensation limit.

HCM: Human Capital Management

  • HCM is a set of practices related to employee staffing that considers people as human capital—assets whose current value can be measured and whose future value can be enhanced through investment.
  • The term “HCM system” has become an umbrella term for integrated software designed for employee records and human capital management processes. Also known as an HRIS or an HRMS.

HR: Human Resources

HRIS: Human Resources Information System

  • Strategic HRM is the practice of identifying a company’s current and future HR needs and then attracting, developing, rewarding, and retaining employees for the benefit of both the employees and the business. HR departments that practice strategic HRM interact with other departments within the business to create strategies that align with the other departments’ objectives, as well as those of the entire organization.

HSA: Health Savings Account

  • Health Savings Account (HSA) funds can be used for qualified medical expenses and are wholly owned by the employee. Those funds are not subject to certain taxes at the time of deposit. When they pair the HSA with a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), employees contributing to an HSA are given a certain level of personal control over their spending on health care costs.

KPI: Key Performance Indicator

LOA: Leave of Absence

LOS: Length of Service

  • You’ll see the terminology used when setting up accrual plans (PTO policies) and benefits plans, as people who have been at the company longer will accrue PTO at a higher rate typically and companies may contribute more to health plans for employees who have been at the company longer

LMS: Learning Management System

LTD: Long-Term Disability

NE: Non-Exempt

  • A non-exempt employee is entitled to overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week. Overtime pay is equal to 1 ½ times the employee’s regular rate of pay.

OSHA: Occupational Safety and Health Administration

  • OSHA is an agency under the U.S. Department of Labor, which was created when President Richard Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 into law on December 29, 1970. OSHA’s mission is “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.” Learn more at:

OE: Open Enrollment (for benefits)

OT: Overtime

PIP: Performance Improvement Plan

PM: Performance Management

PT: Part-Time

PTO: Paid Time Off

SHRM: The Society for Human Resource Management
  • “The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest HR professional society, representing 285,000 members in more than 165 countries.” Learn more at:

STD: Short Term Disability

T&A: Time and Attendance

TLM: Time and Labor Management
  • TLM is the process of tracking, managing and allocating hours worked by employees. TLM can also be a module in a more robust HRIS software package.

WC: Workers Compensation

  • Workers’ compensation, commonly referred to as “workers’ comp,” is a government-mandated program that provides benefits to workers who become injured or ill on the job or as a result of the job. It is effectively a disability insurance program for workers, providing cash benefits, healthcare benefits, or both to workers who suffer injury or illness as a direct result of their jobs.

W-2: Income tax form issued by employers

W-4: Federal Income Tax withholding form

Other Payroll Terminology:


A 401(k) plan allows employees to contribute a portion of their salary on a pre-tax and/or post-tax basis for retirement. It is common for employers to offer a matching contribution to encourage participation, typically up to a certain percentage. 


The term 403(b) plan refers to a retirement account designed for certain employees of public schools and other tax-exempt organizations.


An acronym for Automated Clearing House, ACH refers to an electronic network dedicated to credit and debit transfers. These transfers often include payroll direct deposits.


The IRS defines an independent contractor as any worker who is self-employed, as opposed to traditionally employed by a company. In terms of payroll, independent contractors are significant in that they do not require money to be withheld for Social Security or Medicare.


Any time a predetermined amount of money is taken from an employee’s check at the end of the pay period, it is referred to as a deduction. Most often, deductions are made for items such as health benefits and union dues.

Disposable Earnings

Disposable earnings refer to any wages that are left over after all government taxes and defined deductions have been taken out of the paycheck. This amount is then used to determine the level of pay subject to garnishment or child support withholding.

Exempt Employee

These employees are paid a salary (not an hourly rate) and must perform executive, administrative or professional duties. They are not paid overtime rates for hours exceeding 40 in a week.

Federal Income Tax Withholding

Withholding refers to the federal income tax amount taken out of your employee’s paycheck. The specific amount of federal taxes your company withholds from an employee’s regular pay is based on two main factors: their earnings and the information provided on their W-4 form.


The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) mandates a payroll tax to be imposed on both employees and employers. This tax is then used to fund such programs as Social Security and Medicare. The amount an employee pays in payroll taxes over the course of his or her career may be indirectly related to the level of benefits for which he or she is eligible.

Form 1099NEC

Form 1099NEC refers to a set of tax forms used to report income outside of traditional employee wages. This form is most often used by freelancers and independent contractors. Unlike the Form W-2, Form 1099NEC does not require a company to withhold taxes or other deductions.

Fringe Benefits

Fringe benefits are additional services, goods, or experiences given to employees beyond their regular wages, and they are subject to taxes. Examples of taxable fringe benefits include using a company car for personal activities, wellness program incentives like gym memberships, gift cards, and prizes or awards. Even small amounts like a $100 gift card must be reported as taxable income by employees.


When an employee’s wages are garnished, he or she is forced to forfeit a given portion of the paycheck to a debtor. Garnishments are most common for employees who have failed to pay their debts (such as student loans) and for child support payments.

New Hire Report

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 mandates that employers report new hires and rehires to state agencies and any other required agencies within a certain time frame following the date on which the new employee was first hired. States use this information to enforce laws and benefits such as welfare assistance and fraudulent use of collecting unemployment insurance.

Partial Pay

Under normal circumstances, payroll processing takes place at the predetermined end of a pay period. However, if an employee is hired, promoted or terminated, that payroll may begin or end in the middle of the usual pay period. In this situation, the partial pay system is used. For salaried employees, the partial pay rate can be calculated by dividing the annual salary by the number of work days in one year.

Pay Period

The term “pay period” refers to the frequency with which an employer chooses to pay employees and contractors. Common pay periods include weekly, bi-weekly and monthly. The chosen pay period is defined by its beginning and ending dates.

Retroactive Pay

If an employee has not received compensation for hours worked in a previous pay period, the employer may be required to provide retroactive pay, also called back pay, outside of the originally schedule pay period. Retroactive pay can apply to both hourly wages and overtime earnings.

Severance Pay

When employees are terminated through no fault of their own, they may be eligible for a special payment known as severance pay. This is designed to tide recently terminated employees over until they are able to obtain employment again.

Supplemental Wages

Supplemental wages include any earnings employees incur outside of the agreed-upon pay rate. These wages may include tips, commissions and bonuses. Supplemental wages are taxed differently than regular wages.


SSN stands for Social Security number, or the code assigned by the Social Security Administration to every American’s social security account. Applicants cannot gain employment without providing this number.

Tax Credits

A specific amount that companies can subtract from the taxes they owe to the government. Businesses can lower the amount of taxes they need to pay by applying tax credits. Examples of tax credits for businesses include: Disabled Access Credit, Employer-Provided Child Care Facilities and Services Credit, Work Opportunity Tax Credit and Employee Retention Credit.


In payroll processing, withholding involves deducting money from an employee’s salary to fulfill government requirements. Withholding may also take place in order to siphon a portion of an employee’s paycheck to alternative causes (such as union dues), but these deductions must be approved by the employee in question.

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