NU Online News Service, March 4, 2003, 10:26 a.m. EDT – The HR-XML Consortium, Raleigh, N.C., has approved a new data interchange standard for transmitting payroll deduction requests and other payroll-change instructions.

Insurers could use the new HR-XML Payroll Instructions specification to develop and improve systems for deducting payments for benefits directly from workers’ paychecks.

The specification can handle changes in benefit elections, enrollment in new programs, and changes in benefits coverage resulting from events such as layoffs and marriages.

The specification is designed so that users in different countries can add lists of benefit deduction types that are in common in their countries, HR-XML says.

HR-XML suggests that the new specification could be useful to companies selling and administering major medical insurance, flexible spending accounts, life insurance, disability insurance, accident insurance, savings accounts and employee stock purchase plans.

More information about the specification is available at http://www.hr-xml.org/forms/schema_register.cfm

The HR-XML Consortium helps members develop data-sharing standards based on XML, a set of rules for creating data-translation systems.

Groups of users that adopt an XML standard can use it to design software that automatically converts data from one format into another, or to combine data from many different computer systems into what appears to be one consistent format.

Many insurers are using XML-based systems to integrate their own computer systems and to share data with customers and vendors.