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News

All News > Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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COVID-19, Cybersecurity Create New Litigation Risks for Benefit Plan Fiduciaries and Service Providers
PLANSPONSOR; free registration may be required Link to more items from this source
June 16, 2021

"As offices moved to remote work in 2020, the risk for cyberhacks heavily increased -- as did the possibility that litigation that could follow.... [E]mployers should be wary of potential COVID-19 litigation that involves financial distress from employees due to job loss, cybersecurity management and data privacy, business interruptions or continuities, and relations within the workforce."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Cybersecurity  •  Fiduciary Duties  •  Retirement Plan Administration

Massachusetts Enacts Temporary COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Law
Duane Morris LLP Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
June 16, 2021

"[O]nly employees whose primary place of employment is in Massachusetts are eligible for leave under the act. An employee's 'primary place of employment' means the worksite or physical location where the employee spent the greatest percentage of work hours between the dates of January 1, 2020, and April 30, 2021; temporary telecommuting arrangements entered into during this period should not factor into this determination."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FMLA and Other Leave  •  Local Regulation

Sonoma County Extends Emergency Paid Sick Leave Ordinance
Reed Smith Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
June 15, 2021

"[If] an employee has at least 80 hours of accrued paid sick leave benefits as of June 8, 2021, or at least 160 hours of paid sick leave, vacation, and paid time off benefits, then employers are not required to grant additional CPSL under the Ordinance. If an employee has fewer than such hours of accrued paid leave benefits, then employers are only required to provide CPSL sufficient to make up the deficit."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FMLA and Other Leave  •  Local Regulation

Pandemic Causes One-Third of Americans to Rethink Retirement Date
CNBC Link to more items from this source
June 14, 2021

"Among those feeling the most negative effects are women and pre-retirees. Even so, many Americans say the pandemic was a financial wake-up call that prompted them to rethink how they plan for their futures."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Retirement Plan Design

EEOC Issues New Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccinations in the Workplace
Thompson Coburn LLP Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
June 14, 2021

"[E]mployers who provide incentives to employees for showing proof of vaccination by a third party, but who do not administer the vaccines themselves, may provide larger incentives because they are not receiving any disability-related information from their employees."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Design

DOL Regulatory Agenda, Spring 2021, Including Employee Benefit Items
U.S. Department of Labor [DOL] Link to more items from this source
[Official Guidance]
June 11, 2021

Proposed Rules (EBSA)

  • Implement SECURE Act and Related Revisions to Employee Benefit Plan Annual Reporting on the Form 5500
  • Definition of the Term "Fiduciary"
  • Implementing Executive Orders 13990 and 14030
  • Prohibited Transaction Exemption Procedures
  • Provider Nondiscrimination Requirements for Group Health Plans and Health Insurance Issuers in the Group and Individual Markets

Final Rules (EBSA)

  • Pension Benefit Statements -- Lifetime Income Illustrations
  • Adoption of Amended and Restated Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program
  • Requirements Related to Surprise Billing, Part 1
  • Requirements Related to Surprise Billing, Part 2
  • Amendment of Abandoned Plan Program

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Fiduciary Duties  •  Health Plan Administration  •  Reporting to Government Agencies  •  Retirement Plan Administration  •  Retirement Plan Design  •  Retirement Plan Investments

Text of IRS FAQs: Tax Credits for Paid Leave Under ARPA for Leave After March 31, 2021
Internal Revenue Service [IRS] Link to more items from this source
[Official Guidance]
June 11, 2021

"These FAQs address the tax credits available under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the 'ARP') by employers with fewer than 500 employees and certain governmental employers without regard to the number of employees ('Eligible Employers') for qualified sick and family leave wages ('qualified leave wages') paid with respect to leave taken by employees beginning on April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021, as well as the equivalent credits available for certain self-employed individuals."

[Editor's note: The IRS has published separate FAQs about tax credits that may be claimed for qualified leave wages paid with respect to leave taken by employees prior to April 1, 2021, under the FFCRA and the COVID-related Tax Relief Act, at Tax Credits for Paid Leave Under the [FFCRA] for Leave Prior to April 1, 2021 FAQs.]

Tags: ARPA  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FMLA and Other Leave

Employers Increasing Support for Work/Life Balance and Mental/Emotional Health
Fidelity Link to more items from this source
June 11, 2021

"For 2021, 92% expanded the support for mental health and emotional well-being, which includes programs focused on stress management, sleep improvement and resiliency ... Nearly three-quarters (74%) of employers increased programs to support work/life balance, with 69% of employers adding new leave options or expanding their leave benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Design

EEOC Issues Guidance on Mandatory Vaccine Policies and Vaccine Incentive Programs
Vorys Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
June 9, 2021

"An employer may offer unlimited incentives to employees to voluntarily provide documentation that they received a COVID-19 vaccination on their own.... An employer may not offer an incentive to an employee in return for an employee's family member getting vaccinated by the employer or its agent, but it may offer family members the opportunity to be vaccinated without offering the incentive to the employee.... Remember, incentives may be taxable."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Design

Benefits Added During the Pandemic Likely to Remain
Society for Human Resource Management [SHRM]; membership may be required to view article Link to more items from this source
June 9, 2021

"As the COVID-19 pandemic upended workers' lives, employers responded by providing flexible work arrangements, addressing caregiving needs and supporting workers' emotional well-being. It now looks like many employers are planning to keep those offerings after the pandemic ends."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FMLA and Other Leave  •  Misc. Benefits

Government Warns Doctors and Insurers: Don't Bill for COVID Vaccines
The New York Times; subscription may be required Link to more items from this source
June 9, 2021

"While many patients have encountered coronavirus bills for testing, there have been only a handful involving vaccines. Still, the rules are not foolproof, and some patients have faced illegal charges.... The fees range from $20 to $850."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Costs  •  Health Plan Design

Former Employees Assert Employer Vaccine Mandate and Employment Terminations Violated Federal Law
Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP Link to more items from this source
June 8, 2021

"In late May, the first lawsuit against a private employer was filed in Texas.... [A] group of 117 unvaccinated nonmanagerial employees ... allege their employer wrongfully terminated them over an improper vaccine mandate applicable to all employees.... Essentially, the plaintiffs assert that the mandatory vaccination policy is illegal pursuant to federal law, and so they were wrongfully discharged." [Bridges v. The Methodist Hospital, No. 21-06-07552 (Montgomery Cty. Tx. complaint filed May 28, 2021)]

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

New York Employers Must Permit Employees to Use Accrued Sick Leave for Vaccine Side Effects
FordHarrison Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
June 8, 2021

"New York already requires employers to allow employees to use their accrued sick leave to get vaccinated. NYDOL has now clarified that sick leave may be used for side effects from vaccinations."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FMLA and Other Leave  •  Local Regulation

New Massachusetts Emergency Paid Sick Leave
Berry, Dunn, McNeil & Parker, LLC Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
June 8, 2021

"The new MA EPSL benefit is in addition to existing paid time-off benefits offered by an employer and required by law, subject to some limited exceptions.... [T]his requirement applies to all Massachusetts employers regardless of the number of employees.... Employers are required to provide a Notice to all employees and post a notice regarding MA EPSL. The notice is expected to be available on or before June 14, 2021."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FMLA and Other Leave  •  Local Regulation

Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave
Mintz Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
June 8, 2021

"An employer may not require an employee to use other forms of leave before using COVID-19 EPSL.... While an employee is on leave under COVID-19 EPSL, an employer must maintain the same employment benefits to which the employee is otherwise entitled (e.g., group health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, sick leave, or vacation leave)."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FMLA and Other Leave  •  Local Regulation

Massachusetts Governor Signs Law Providing COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave
Seyfarth Shaw LLP Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
June 4, 2021

"Because the mandate was declared an emergency law ... it appears highly likely that the mandate went into effect immediately on May 28. However, businesses should note that the previously vetoed version of the legislation called for a 10 day grace period after enactment before going into effect.... It appears that employers will need to compensate employees for Massachusetts COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave at their regular rate of pay."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FMLA and Other Leave  •  Local Regulation

Greater Interest in Employee Benefits the 'Silver Lining' of COVID-19
InsuranceNewsNet.com Link to more items from this source
June 4, 2021

"[Key trends include:] A renewed interest in 'bedrock benefits' such as health insurance, group life insurance and disability insurance.... Technology to tailor the benefits experience and digital tools to support open enrollment. Three-quarters of employers surveyed said they expanded or added paid time away from work. Among those who gave their workers more time off, 46% added medical leave, 39% offered family leave and 30% added parental leave."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FMLA and Other Leave  •  Health Plan Design  •  Retirement Plan Design

Summer Vaccinations: EEOC Releases Updated Guidance on Vaccination Incentives
Eversheds Sutherland Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
June 3, 2021

"The EEOC provides several examples of 'reasonable accommodations' in the context of COVID-19 vaccinations, including teleworking or shift modification.... Whether an employer mandates that employees be vaccinated by the employer's agent or by the employer directly, the employer will be required to do the same 'direct threat' analysis.... If the incentives are provided outside of a health plan (such as providing employees with a cash bonus for being vaccinated) then the incentives may be taxable compensation to the employees."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Health Plan Design

Everything Employers Always Wanted to Know About Vaccines... and Have Been Asking About for Months
Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete LLP Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
June 3, 2021

"Can employers exercise any influence over employees' decisions to be vaccinated without violating the federal anti-discrimination laws? Yes, they can.... And is it lawful for an employer to request or require proof of vaccination? Yes.... Does the EEOC have any recommended 'best practices' related to reasonable accommodation? They're glad you asked!"

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

2021 Reference Point: Annual 401(k) Plan Benchmarking Report (PDF)
T. Rowe Price Link to more items from this source
June 2, 2021

75 pages. "This [report] provides data and actionable insights into plan and participant actions taken in 2020, year over year, and through the lens of the pandemic.... [T]he financial, physical, and emotional strains caused by the coronavirus had, and will continue to have, repercussions on plan design and employee retirement savings outcomes.... [O]verall, plan sponsors and participants continued to understand the value of retirement savings programs last year."

Tags: 401(k) Plans  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Retirement Plan Administration  •  Retirement Plan Design  •  Retirement Plan Investments

EEOC Weighs In with Updated Guidance on Vaccine Mandates, Incentives and More
McDonald Hopkins Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
June 2, 2021

"[1] Can an employer require an employee to be vaccinated? Yes.... [2] Can an employer require an employee to provide proof of vaccination? Yes.... [3] Can an employer provide an incentive for employees who provide proof of vaccination? Yes.... [4] Is information about an employee's COVID-19 vaccination confidential medical information? Yes."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

EEOC Updates and Expands COVID-19 Vaccination Technical Assistance and Rules for Employer Vaccine Incentives
Troutman Sanders Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
June 2, 2021

"[As] of this writing, nearly every state in the union has legislation pending that would prohibit employers from mandating employee vaccinations. While the EEOC guidance clearly endorses vaccine mandates and incentives under federal law, such programs may not be permissible under state or local law."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Employers Now Have 2 Clear Options to Provide Vaccine Incentives Thanks to New EEOC Guidance
Fisher Phillips Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
June 2, 2021

"If your employees voluntarily provide documentation confirming they have been vaccinated and got the shot on their own from a pharmacy, public health department, or other health care provider in the community, you can offer them any incentive you'd like with no apparent limitations. If your organization (or an entity acting on your organization's behalf) administers the vaccine, you can still offer incentives -- but they cannot be so substantial in value as to be considered coercive. Regardless of which path you travel, there are still hoops to jump through if you want to provide vaccine incentives[.]"

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Massachusetts Employers Must Provide Up to 40 Hours of COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave
Jackson Lewis P.C. Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
June 2, 2021

"Employees apparently are entitled to MA EPSL benefits starting as early as June 7, 2021, until September 30, 2021. The new MA EPSL benefit is in addition to existing paid time-off benefits offered by employers or required by law (such as Earned Sick Time), subject to some limited exceptions."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FMLA and Other Leave  •  Local Regulation

Massachusetts Enacts Legislation Providing COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave to All Employees
Littler Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
June 2, 2021

"The law also creates a $75 million COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Fund to reimburse eligible employers for providing their employees with this additional emergency paid sick leave. This new paid leave entitlement begins 10 days after enactment, or June 7, 2021, and extends until September 30, 2021, or until the fund is exhausted."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  FMLA and Other Leave  •  Local Regulation


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