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Webcasts, Conferences

Coronavirus: Top Issues for Employers, Health Plans & Retirement Plans
Groom Law Group

Preparing Your Workplace to Address Coronavirus
March 20, 2020 WEBCAST
Vedder Price

COVID-19 Updates for Employers: Employee Benefits and Compensation Issues
March 23, 2020 WEBCAST
Ogletree Deakins

Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program
March 26, 2020 WEBCAST
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor

Evolution of the FMLA
April 14, 2020 WEBCAST
Disability Management Employer Coalition [DMEC]

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[Guidance Overview]

Coronavirus National Emergency Declaration Permits Employers to Offer Tax-Favored Financial Assistance to Employees

"An employee leave bank is a method by which employees may donate their excess leave to affected coworkers who lack sufficient leave to cover an absence from work.... Employers may provide direct tax-free assistance.... Employer-sponsored Emergency Funds designated as private foundations may provide assistance."

McDermott Will & Emery

Congress Makes Significant Changes to Proposed FMLA and Sick Leave Requirements in COVID-19 Bill

"On March 16, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled legislation revisiting the sweeping COVID-19 response bill it passed only days earlier. While ostensibly styled as 'corrections' to the prior legislation, this new bill dramatically changes a number of provisions it had previously adopted.... The new legislation released by the House generally narrows and targets these relief programs, and attempts to harmonize their interaction.... [1] Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act  ... [2] Emergency Paid Sick Leave ... [3] Tax Credits and Other Efforts."


U.S. House Amends Emergency FMLA and Paid Sick Leave Legislation as Part of COVID-19 Response

"[A] 'qualifying need' is limited now to instances where an employee is unable to work or telework due to the need to care for a child if the child's school or place of child care has been closed or the child care provider is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.... In a sharp departure from the original legislation, the remaining FMLA leave must be paid at two-thirds of the employee's regular rate, for the number of hours the employee would otherwise be scheduled to work. Notably, the amended legislation also (for the first time) limits the amount of required pay for leave to no more than $200 per day and $10,000 total."

FMLA Insights

Factsheet: What Paid Sick Leave Is Available to Civilian Workers in the U.S.?

"In March 2019, 76 percent of civilian workers had access to paid sick leave benefits. Employees are considered to have access to paid sick leave plans if it is available for their use. The average cost to employers was $0.42 per employee hour worked in March 2019.... For 68 percent of workers, sick leave plans provide a fixed number of days per year with an average of 8 days available for their use. Three percent of workers have an as-needed sick leave plan; that is, the plan does not specify the maximum number of days. For the remaining 28 percent, their sick leave plan is part of a consolidated leave plan, which provides a single amount of time off for workers to use for multiple purposes such as vacation, illness, or other personal business."

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS]

Be Wary of Potential HIPAA Traps When Responding to Coronavirus Concerns

"Employers who are considering involving human resources personnel with access to HIPAA protected health information (that is part of the employer's medical plan), should carefully consider potential privacy concerns that could be raised if information from the health plan is accessible and/or considered in responding to workplace safety concerns.... [S]ome employers [are implementing] testing and prevention strategies that can create new employer-sponsored health plans, and/or involve third-parties or onsite clinics that are otherwise considered health care providers or plans subject to HIPAA."


Employers Must Consider Expense Reimbursement for Employees Working at Home Because of COVID-19

"One unforeseen consequence of requiring employees to work from home is some jurisdictions mandate that employers reimburse their employees for certain expenses incurred as a result of their employment. Accordingly, employers may be required to reimburse employees for reasonable expenses they incur for equipment and services necessary to work from home, such as cell phone, internet, and computer usage expenses."

Hunton & Williams LLP

New Jersey COVID-19 Bills Would Expand Employee Benefits, Establish Benefits for Independent Contractors

"Two bills ... under consideration by the New Jersey State Assembly ... would provide greater benefits to affected employees under the state Earned Sick Leave, Family Leave, and Temporary Disability laws. The legislature also is considering establishing an Epidemic Emergency Relief Employment Fund to provide benefits to independent contractors who may lose income due to COVID-19 or other infectious diseases."

Jackson Lewis P.C.

House Passes Free COVID-19 Testing Coverage Mandate for All Group Health Plans

"[HR 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)] requires that all employer-sponsored group health plans -- including fully insured, self-insured, and grandfathered plans -- cover COVID-19 testing expenses without any cost sharing. The mandate would apply to diagnostic testing, including the cost of a provider, urgent care center, and emergency room visits in order to receive testing. This means that no group health plan could impose any deductibles, copays, coinsurance, or any other form of out-of-pocket expense for any covered individual who receives COVID-19 testing."

ABD Insurance & Financial Services

COVID-19 Diagnosis and Treatment Cost Relief for Certain Employer-Provided Health Plans

"The Coronavirus Act, if approved, would impose a new COVID-19 testing benefits mandate on self-insured employer health plans as well as on fully insured group health plans. In the interim, ... [e]mployers under a self-insured health plan paradigm should check with their providers to determine how they are addressing cost-sharing related to COVID-19 screening. These employers should also determine what actions must be taken to elect in or out of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus testing cost-sharing programs."

Hall Benefits Law

DOL's ERISA Enforcement Activities Focus on Health Plan Compliance

"For fiscal year 2019, the DOL reported recoveries of $2.5 billion in direct payments to plans. This is a 56.25% increase over the previous year, and affirms that the DOL ERISA enforcement program remains very active and continues to find breaches of ERISA that require restorative payments by plan fiduciaries and others.... [T]here are indications that the DOL's health plan enforcement activities are an increasing DOL priority. There are a number of factors that may be driving the DOL's health plan enforcement activities."

Morgan Lewis


The Golden Age of Telehealth Is Here (Thanks to the Coronavirus)

"Earlier this month, Congress approved its first bill to combat the new coronavirus. One small provision that relaxes legal restrictions on telehealth treatments for Medicare patients could have an outsized impact.... This health care delivery method can benefit most anyone. But with a disease like this, which takes its greatest toll among the elderly, telehealth can be particularly advantageous to Medicare patients."

The Heritage Foundation


Want to Make the Nation More Prepared to Fight Contagious Diseases? Expand Paid Sick Leave

"Ignoring this gap in the nation's readiness to control contagious disease would be negligent and potentially threatening to our national security. With the number of cases of COVID-19 increasing in the United States, momentum for federal paid sick leave legislation is growing.... Simply requiring paid sick leave may not be enough. We also must consider the conditions under which sick leave can be used (for example, to care for a sick family member or domestic violence recovery), the number of minimum required hours, and whether it covers all employers or only a specific subset."

Brian C. Castrucci and John Auerbach, in Health Affairs

Benefits in General

Coronavirus: Top Issues for Employers, Health Plans and Retirement Plans (PDF)

29 presentation slides. Topics: [1] Health insurance (Essential Health Benefits/ preventive care); [2] HSAs & self- funded health plans; [3] HIPAA privacy; [4] Implications for retirement plans; [5] Paid/unpaid leave; [6] Corporate insurance coverage / use of emergency funds; [7] Federal & state guidance -- issued and anticipated.

Groom Law Group

More U.S. Employees Willing to Sacrifice Pay for Better Health and Retirement Benefits

"[O]ver half of respondents (57%) say their benefit package is more important to them than ever before, driven largely by their desire for greater security. Fully two-thirds of respondents (67%) are willing to pay a higher amount each month for more comprehensive retirement benefits. That's up from 55% in 2011. More than four in 10 workers (42%) would sacrifice additional pay each month for a more expansive health benefit plan, a sharp increase from 27% in 2013."

Willis Towers Watson

Selected Discussions
on the BenefitsLink Message Boards

Form 5500 Software -- Pros and Cons

"I'm trying to get a handle on whether to use the DOL EFAST2 web-based filing system in its native format or use one of the many integrations available on their website. I would like to hear from any BenAdmin familiar users to see which products they prefer. Our staff is very knowledgeable in the employee benefit and ERISA arena but I would like them to have access to a tool that could facilitate and guide their work."

BenefitsLink Message Boards

Press Releases

Special Announcement Regarding ARA Operations
American Retirement Association

Upcoming Events About Health & Welfare Plans

Mar. 18
Creating Effective Benefit Communications that Improve Engagement and Impact Employee Health
Midwest Business Group on Health
Mar. 19
COVID-19 and HIPAA, HRA and HSA Workplace Developments: New Challenges and Opportunities for Plan Sponsors and Their Advisers
Worldwide Employee Benefits Network [WEB] - New York Chapter
Mar. 19
Is Your Out-Of-Network Savings Solution Out of Date?
Mar. 20
Preparing Your Workplace to Address Coronavirus
Vedder Price
Mar. 23
COVID-19 Updates for Employers: Employee Benefits and Compensation Issues
Ogletree Deakins
Mar. 24
Are You Getting Good Data on What is Driving Your Healthcare Costs?
University Conference Services

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BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2020, Inc. All materials contained in this newsletter are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of, Inc., or in the case of third party materials, the owner of those materials. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notices from copies of the content.

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