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News

All News > Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Strong Savings Persist Despite Financial Strains
PLANSPONSOR; free registration may be required Link to more items from this source
Aug. 5, 2021

"[D]espite six in 10 workers having adjusted their financial behaviors due to pandemic-related financial strain, 82% are saving for retirement. About a third report having reduced day-to-day expenses, while nearly a quarter say they have dipped into savings accounts to meet spending needs. Some 17% have accumulated new credit card debt, a little more than the 14% who have reduced or stopped contributions to retirement accounts."

Tags: 401(k) Plans  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Recent Federal Policies on Small Business Health Insurance
Urban Institute Link to more items from this source
Aug. 4, 2021

"Despite being some of the hardest hit employers, small employers did all they could to maintain their health plans. Small employers ... view health coverage as a necessary recruitment and staff retention tool and so were hesitant to cut benefits. However, the small group market as a whole rests on a shaky foundation as employers look to cut costs and pursue non-ACA compliant coverage options."

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

Can Employers Offer COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives for Employees?
McDermott Will & Emery Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
July 28, 2021

"Incentives may take many forms, such as a one-time bonus, a gift card or a few extra vacation hours. Employers can get creative. There are two issues to consider when implementing a vaccine incentive program for purposes of complying with employment and benefits laws: the concepts of coercion and reasonable accommodation."

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

Massachusetts Now Requires Paid COVID-19 Leave for All Employees
Verrill Dana LLP Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
July 23, 2021

"Effective May 28, 2021, the law requires employers to provide all employees up to 40 hours (pro-rated for part-time employees) of paid leave. Employers are required to provide leave until the earlier of September 30, 2021, or when Massachusetts announces that the $75 million fund to reimburse employers is expected to be depleted."

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

COVID-19 Reduces U.S. Life Expectancy
Treasury & Risk; free registration required Link to more items from this source
July 23, 2021

"An arm of the [CDC] is reporting, based on early data, that overall life expectancy at birth dropped by 1.5 years between 2019 and 2020, to 77.3 years. For U.S. residents who are currently 65 years old, life expectancy fell by 0.8 years, to 18.8 additional years. The drop at age 65 was about the same for men and women."

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

TIGTA Audit Report 2021-16-044: Taxpayers Were Notified About the CARES Act Retirement Plan Provisions But Additional Actions Could Be Taken to Identify Potential Noncompliance (PDF)
Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration [TIGTA], U.S. Department of the Treasury Link to more items from this source
July 22, 2021

21 pages. "Although the Section 2202 Compliance Plan assessed the effect on examination activities and outlined the steps necessary to encourage and enforce taxpayer compliance, it could be improved.... TIGTA recommended that the Commissioner, Small Business/Self-Employed Division, ensure that management has sufficient information available to assess compliance with Section 2202 of the CARES Act and consider creating a Lead Sheet to assist examiners when reviewing cases for potential noncompliance. In their response, IRS management disagreed with both recommendations."

Tags: CARES Act  •  Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Misc. Distribution Issues

Insurer Filings Suggest COVID-19 Pandemic Will Not Drive Health Spending in 2022
Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Link to more items from this source
July 20, 2021

"This brief reviews initial 2022 premium rate filings for Marketplace-participating individual market insurers in 13 states and the District of Columbia.... [M]ost of these insurers expect health utilization patterns to return to pre-pandemic levels and therefore most are factoring in no additional costs or savings related to COVID-19 into their 2022 premiums. These insurers also tended to make similar assumptions about how COVID-19 would affect their group market costs."

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

Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Request Form and Employer Reimbursement Process
Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
July 14, 2021

"While employers were initially advised to prescribe their own request forms, all the information that must be collected is now addressed in the sample form ... The [Executive Office for Administration and Finance (EOAF)] has published the required notice in poster-form and in a form to be sent via electronic communication. Additionally, the EOAF has published instructions for employers to follow in order to seek reimbursement for payments made to employees for use of COVID-19 Sick Leave."

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

How Employer Health Benefits Are Changing Due to Coronavirus
HealthPayer Intelligence Link to more items from this source
July 14, 2021

"Over nine in ten employers said that they were increasing their mental health and wellness programming in 2021, including pediatric mental health programs ... Almost 75 percent reported that they were extending work-life balance support and nearly 70 percent were expanding their paid leave policies."

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

OSHA's First Mandatory COVID-19 Workplace Safety Rule Requires PTO for Vaccination and COVID-19 Absences for Healthcare Employees
Miles & Stockbridge Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
July 8, 2021

"[T]he standard requires that employers give unvaccinated employees reasonable time and paid leave to be vaccinated and to recover from vaccine side effects, although it does not define what 'reasonable' time is. Employers must also provide medical removal protection benefits, which include specified amounts of paid leave for certain employees removed from work due to COVID-19 exposure or contraction."

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

City of Los Angeles Requires Vaccine Leave for Employees Working in the City
Jackson Lewis Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
July 8, 2021

"Under the [mayor's] order, employees who work within the City of Los Angeles and have been employed by their employer for 60 days are entitled to paid time off to get vaccinated for COVID-19, including traveling to and from the appointment, as well as recovering from the side effects of vaccination[.]"

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

Which Federal and State Leave Laws Apply to Your Remote Employee?
FMLA Insights Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
July 8, 2021

"[R]emote work programs of the past likely neglected to address the fundamental differences between mandatory telework (at the employer's direction) and voluntary telework (at the employee's request).... [It's] also critical that you require employees to notify you whenever they will be working from a different jurisdiction, as you will need to track whether they are entitled to a statutory leave of absence under the laws of the state/city in which they are performing work."

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

IRS Extends Relief for Leave-Based Donation Programs
RSM US Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
July 7, 2021

"In general, the employee's donated time does not need to be treated as wages for income or payroll tax purposes if ... [1] the payment is made to a section 170(c) organization for the relief of victims of the COVID-19 pandemic in the affected geographic areas; and [2] the payment is paid to the section 170(c) organization after Dec. 31, 2020 and before Jan. 1, 2022."

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

Florida Ends Telehealth Waivers
Foley & Lardner LLP Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
July 2, 2021

"While providers were aware these waivers would be time-limited, many did not expect Florida would allow them to expire so suddenly and without a 'glide path' such as a 60-day advance notice. The expiration of these waivers, particularly for providers who have been heavily relying on them, means providers need to execute and implement their plans for how to deliver services post-waiver."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Local Regulation  •  Teleheath

IRS Extends Tax Relief for Leave Donations Aiding COVID-19 Victims
Thomson Reuters / EBIA Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
July 1, 2021

"This extension arrives somewhat late in the game -- possibly too late for employers that have not already established a leave-based donation program. But for those with such a program, this extension will be a welcome affirmation that the favorable tax treatment of leave-based donations can continue, at least for cash payments made during 2021."

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

Text of IRS Notice 2021-42: Treatment of Amounts Paid to Section 170(c) Organizations Under Employer Leave-Based Donation Programs to Aid Victims of the COVID-19 Pandemic (PDF)
Internal Revenue Service [IRS] Link to more items from this source
[Official Guidance]
July 1, 2021

"[T]his notice extends the federal income and employment tax treatment provided in Notice 2020-46 to cash payments made to section 170(c) organizations after December 31, 2020, and before January 1, 2022, that otherwise would be described in Notice 2020-46."

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

Estimating Impacts of Pandemic-Related Job Loss on Health Insurance Coverage Among Adults Ages 50 to 64
AARP Link to more items from this source
July 1, 2021

"Estimates show that a significant number of older workers likely lost employer-sponsored health insurance during the first several months of the pandemic. Some older adults losing employer coverage became newly uninsured, while others enrolled in nongroup coverage or Medicaid."

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

Los Angeles Mayor Revises Existing, and Issues New, Order Requiring Paid Sick Leave for Absences Related to COVID-19 Vaccines
Littler Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
June 29, 2021

"The new order requires all employers to provide covered employees with ... paid time off to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, including time an employee spends traveling to and from an appointment, and time to recover from vaccination-related side effects that prevent the employee from being able to work or telework.... [This] Order is retroactive to January 1, 2021."

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

Employers Consider More Pet-Friendly Benefits in the Postpandemic Workplace
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans [IFEBP] Link to more items from this source
June 25, 2021

"A survey released in March ... found that 57% of surveyed pet owners said they would be most happy returning to their workplace if they could bring their pets with them. According to the same survey, one in two C-suite executives surveyed said they are planning to allow pets in the workplace once employees return to the office, and 59% would allow more flexibility for workers wanting to stay remote with their pets."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  Misc. Benefits

Paid Leave for COVID-19 Vaccines and 'Kin Care' Come to Nevada
Seyfarth Shaw LLP Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
June 25, 2021

"SB209 requires private employers to provide employees with up to four hours of paid leave to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. It further amends Nevada's Paid Leave Law by adding a non-exhaustive list of reasons for which employees may take paid leave. AB190 allows employees to use a portion of their accrued employer-provided paid or unpaid sick leave to care for the employee's immediate family members. SB209 went into effect immediately upon the Governor's approval on June 9, 2021, and AB190 goes into effect on October 1, 2021."

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

Text of IRS Notice 2021-40: Extension of Temporary Relief from the Physical Presence Requirement for Witnessing of Participant Elections (PDF)
Internal Revenue Service [IRS] Link to more items from this source
[Official Guidance]
June 24, 2021

"This notice provides a 12-month extension, through June 30, 2022, of the temporary relief provided in Notice 2021-3 ... from the physical presence requirement in Section 1.401(a)-21(d)(6) for participant elections required to be witnessed by a plan representative or a notary public (the physical presence requirement). This notice also requests specific comments, by September 30, 2021, regarding the physical presence requirement. This extension of relief is provided to respond to the continuing ... pandemic and to permit consideration of stakeholder comments provided pursuant to this notice and Notice 2021-3."

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

Are Employers Allowed to Use Health Plan Claims Records to Determine Whether Employees Have Received COVID-19 Vaccinations?
Thomson Reuters / EBIA Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
June 24, 2021

"An employer's group health plan is a HIPAA covered entity and, under HIPAA, is a separate legal entity from the employer.... Because the plan generally is required to cover COVID-19 vaccinations as preventive services, it is likely to have information about employees' receipt of COVID-19 vaccinations, and this information is considered PHI.... Employees (or other plan participants) cannot be required to sign authorizations allowing the employer to receive PHI from the group health plan as a condition of receiving group health plan benefits."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  HIPAA

Annuities, Retirement, and the Pandemic: Assessing America's Retirement Readiness (PDF)
Indexed Annuity Leadership Council [IALC] Link to more items from this source
June 23, 2021

10 pages. "[M]any of us (42%) ... have become more risk-averse when it comes to our finances. As a result, a vast majority of Americans, 86%, say that guaranteeing their income in retirement is important.... Sixty-three percent of Black/African Americans and 53% of Hispanic respondents had to access their savings to pay for daily expenses during the pandemic.... Overall, older Americans (55+) and those who are currently retired ... are less likely to have no savings or to dip into existing savings as a result of the pandemic."

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

Can You Offer Employees Incentives for Vaccination?
Miles & Stockbridge Link to more items from this source
[Guidance Overview]
June 18, 2021

"Under HIPAA, a vaccine incentive is likely to be considered a health-contingent wellness program. This kind of program is required to, among other things, [1] limit rewards to not more than 30% of the total cost of coverage under the employer's group health plan and [2] offer a reasonable alternative to satisfying the main condition.... [A] vaccine incentive program can be [1] incorporated into a HIPAA-compliant group health plan or [2] designed to be voluntary."

Tags: Coronavirus (COVID-19)  •  HIPAA

Pandemic-Fueled Trauma Is Hijacking Workers' Focus
National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions Link to more items from this source
June 17, 2021

"Key Mental Health Index Findings: [1] Risk of PTSD has increased 36% since February, and is now 55% higher than pre-pandemic. [2] Sustained attention has decreased 24% since April and is now 59% lower than pre-pandemic. [3] Ages 60+: 125% worse when compared to April 2021; Ages 20-39: 37% worse than one month ago. [4] Planning is trending down 8% in the past month Ages 60+: 30% worse when compared to April 2021."

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


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