Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter

March 20, 2020

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View More COVID-19 (Coronavirus) News and Resources

[Guidance Overview]

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act: What Employers Need to Know

"[E]mployees are eligible for paid sick leave immediately upon hire. Full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick time. Part-time employees are entitled to paid sick time in an amount equal to the average number of hours they work in a two-week period.... [T]he amount that the employee must be paid varies depending on the reason for the leave[.]"

Vorys

[Guidance Overview]

A Close Look at the Provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

"Paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave will be available to eligible employees within 15 days of the bill's enactment (April 2, 2020). Any wages required to be paid under the Sick Leave Act and the FMLA Expansion Act will not be considered wages for purposes of the employer's portion of the Social Security tax."

The Wagner Law Group

[Guidance Overview]

Families First Coronavirus Response Act Impacts Sick Leave and Pay

"For employers with fewer than 500 employees, the FFCRA ... imposes new paid-leave requirements for certain employees.... [which] are supplemental to existing federal employee leave laws. In other words, employers are still bound by traditional FMLA and ADA analyses for employees with qualifying health conditions."

Maynard Cooper & Gale

[Guidance Overview]

President Trump Signs Family and Medical Leave Expansion, Paid Leave Into Law

"[If] an employee is ill with coronavirus, or is caring for a spouse, parent, or child with coronavirus, the employee would qualify for 'traditional' FMLA leave, assuming the employee was otherwise eligible. However, the new legislation does not address employees who are self-isolating, or who are out of work only because of exposure to COVID-19."

Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete LLP

[Guidance Overview]

HR 6201: Updated COVID-19 Leave Law Signed by President

"An eligible employee is one who has been employed by the employer for 30 or more days and who has a 'qualifying need related to a public health emergency.' Both full- and part-time employees are eligible.... [T]the provisions in the original version of HR 6201 allowing for FMLA leave due to an employee exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or to care for a family member exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 were removed from the final legislation."

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP

[Guidance Overview]

President Trump Signs Families First Coronavirus Response Act

"The Act permits the [DOL] to adopt regulations that would exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the requirements of the EFMLA 'when the imposition of such requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.' ... [E]mployers must restore employees taking EFMLA leave to their position, or an equivalent position -- however, there is an exemption that employers with fewer than 25 employees may be able to use if [certain] conditions are met[.]"

Pepper Hamilton LLP

[Guidance Overview]

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: What Should Employers Do?

"[1] Review current policies and be careful of policy adjustments in an effort to provide supplemental benefits prior to the Act.... [2] Develop a Coronavirus Policy and FAQs for your employees.... [3] Develop 'work from home' rules  ... [4] Update your Family and Medical Leave Policy to reflect the requirements of law.... [5] Provide employees with clear expectations and procedures as it relates to absences from work, eligibility for Paid Sick Leave and communications with/notices to Human Resources.... [6] Remain calm."

von Briesen & Roper, s.c.

[Guidance Overview]

Emergency Paid Leave Act: New Relief to Mitigate COVID-19's Economic Impact

"The Act raises many questions for employers ... [1] How will paid leave under the FFCRA interact with existing paid leave benefits? ... [2] If existing policies or state and local requirements count against the FFCRA 's requirements, how will that impact the tax credit? ... [3] If an employee's child care provider is unable to provide child care services ... due to a school closure related to COVID-19, will that qualify the employee for FFCRA sick leave benefits?"

Latham & Watkins

[Guidance Overview]

Governor Cuomo Announces Job Protections and Paid Sick Leave for New Yorkers Quarantined Due to COVID-19

"[T]he legislation provides certain job protections to employees subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by the state, the Department of Health, a local board of health, or any government entity authorized to issue a quarantine order. The protections vary based on employer size ... [U]nder these circumstances only, the law allows an employee to receive benefits under PFL and short-term disability at the same time -- something which has not previously been permitted."

ReedSmith

[Sponsored]

Free Comprehensive Directory of Coronavirus (COVID-19) News for Employee Benefit Plans

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BenefitsLink now publishes a free directory of: [1] Official guidance issued by IRS, DOL, HHS and other agencies; [2] Federal, state and local laws; [3] Analysis and explanations by law firms, consulting firms and others; and [4] Benefits-related items from popular news media and trade publications. Updated daily! Learn more


[Guidance Overview]

New York State to Provide Paid Sick Leave, Other COVID-19 Protections for Workers

"Employees are not eligible to take sick leave if they are deemed asymptomatic or have not yet been diagnosed with a medical condition, and are physically able to work remotely or through other means while under a mandatory quarantine or isolation."

Mintz

[Guidance Overview]

New York State Enacts Paid Sick Leave for COVID-19 Quarantines, Lowers Percentage of Employees Allowed Onsite

"When viewing the New York and federal laws together, all New York employers are now required to provide at least 80 hours of paid leave to any full-time employees who are subject to a 'mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation' issued by a public health agency.... Unlike its federal counterpart, the New York law imposes paid leave requirements on employers with 500 or more employees. In practice, this means that all employers in New York with at least 100 employees must provide a minimum of 14 days of paid job-protected leave to employees who are subject to an order of quarantine or isolation related to COVID-19."

Thompson Hine

[Guidance Overview]

New Laws Require NY Employers to Provide Additional Paid Sick Leave to Employees Affected by COVID-19

"New York employers must now provide sick leave for any 'employee who is subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation issued by the state of New York, the department of health, local board of health, or any governmental entity duly authorized to issue such order due to COVID-19.' This law goes into effect immediately. The amount and type of leave that must be provided depends on the number of employees an employer had as of January 1, 2020 and, for small employers, their 2019 net income[.]"

Fox Rothschild LLP

[Guidance Overview]

COVID-19 New York Sick Leave Act

"For employees of those small and midsize employers who receive unpaid leave, those employees are eligible to receive paid family leave and disability benefits for the period of unpaid leave due to quarantine or isolation. For employees of larger employers, there is no such requirement for unpaid leave or benefits."

Haynes and Boone, LLP

[Guidance Overview]

Puerto Rico Employer Obligations During COVID-19 Emergency

"The Puerto Rico Secretary of Labor and Human Resources ... has issued Opinion No. 2020-01 on the applicable legal provisions and measures related to the employer-employee relationship in light of the emergency provoked by the coronavirus (COVID-19)."

Jackson Lewis P.C.

[Guidance Overview]

Oregon Adopts Emergency Leave Rule, Mandating Up to 12 Weeks of Protected Leave

"Oregon employees may be absent for up to 12 weeks, on a continuous or intermittent basis, because the employee's child's school or place of care has been closed by public authorities, including out of concerns related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak."

Jackson Lewis P.C.

[Guidance Overview]

COVID-19 Spurs IRS Relief for HDHPs, State Insurance Guidance (PDF)

11 pages. "[This article] provides brief summaries and links to state COVID-19 guidance for insurance carriers. Not all states have issued guidance, but more may do so in the near future. This article concludes with some considerations for employers."

Mercer

[Guidance Overview]

New Coronavirus Legislation Impacts Health Plans

"[P]rivate health plans (including insured, self-insured, and grandfathered) must provide coverage for COVID-19 testing and related services to employees and their covered dependents, without cost sharing from the effective date of the Act (likely April 2) through the end of the national emergency period."

Graydon

[Guidance Overview]

President Signs Bill with Free COVID-19 Testing Coverage Mandate for All Group Health Plans

"The FFCRA requires that all employer-sponsored group health plans, including self-insured group health plans, immediately cover COVID-19 testing without imposing any cost-sharing on the covered employee or family member.... Employers must provide an SMM  ... For employees with work-related computer access that is integral to their job duties, posting the SMM to the employers' intranet, benefits portal, wiki, etc. is sufficient -- as long as employers notify employees of the new ERISA materials that have been posted."

ABD Insurance & Financial Services

[Guidance Overview]

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: From a Benefits Perspective

"Some uncertainty remains as to how far the Act's coverage mandate extends, including... [1] The scope of the provision on telemedicine, ... [2] Whether out-of-network claims must be covered without cost-sharing.... [3] Whether retiree only plans are exempt from the requirements."

Proskauer

Furloughs, Layoffs and COBRA Options in a Time of COVID-19

"There is nothing in COBRA law or regulations prohibiting an employer from offering alternative coverage as an additional option to the required COBRA protections.... [For example, an employer could keep] COBRA qualified beneficiaries enrolled in the group health plan for up to three months by having [the employee pay] 20 percent of the monthly premium instead of COBRA at 102 percent of the applicable premium."

Kushner & Company

Benefits Guidance in the Time of COVID-19: Continuing Employer Group Health Coverage During Temporary Layoffs or Furloughs

"Are employees who are laid-off or furloughed entitled to continuation of their health coverage? ... Are employers subject to federal COBRA required to provide employees with COBRA elections in the event of a temporary layoff or furlough?  ... May employers continue active group health care coverage for laid-off or furloughed employees?  ... May the employer subsidize the employee premium during the temporary layoff or furlough?   ... May the employer charge employees the cost of the employee premiums during the period of temporary layoff or furlough?"

Epstein Becker Green

How Will Coronavirus Costs Impact Health Plans?

"An acute case might result in an intensive care unit (ICU) stay, estimated at 25 days -- and if the kidneys are impacted 13% of survivors require permanent, ongoing dialysis. Costs are estimated at $700,000 for hospitalization plus $60,000 per month for ongoing dialysis."

EPIC

Benefits in General

[Guidance Overview]

Employee Benefits Questions and Answers Related to COVID-19

"[1] Is an employer health plan required to provide testing for and treatment of COVID-19 without a deductible or at a reduced cost? ... [2] Must employers provide paid leave to employees who are absent from work due to the COVID-19 emergency? ... [3] Can employers allow changes to employee elections under their Internal Revenue Code section 125 cafeteria plans to reflect changes in circumstances due to COVID-19?  ... [4] Can employees receive a loan or hardship distribution from their 401(k) or other defined contribution retirement plans on account of expenses related to COVID-19?  ... [5] Can an employer establish catastrophic leave-sharing or disaster leave-sharing programs to allow employees to assist one another with COVID-19 situations?"

Hanson Bridgett LLP

U.S. Tax Filing Deadline Moved to July 15

"The U.S. is extending the deadline for filing taxes from April 15 to July 15, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a tweet on Friday. The decision gives Americans three months longer than they typically would to file their taxes."

FOX Business

Majority of North American Companies Will Pay Hourly Workers Who Test Positive for COVID-19

"A new survey ... finds a majority of employers will continue to pay hourly workers who test positive for the virus (72%), whose workplace experiences a mandated closure (54%), or who have a cold or flu-like symptoms and voluntarily stay home (51%). However, only about one-third of companies (36%) will continue paying hourly workers when they stay home because they don't have childcare."

Willis Towers Watson

Communicating Through the Chaos of Coronavirus

"Use company-wide email communications, frequently and confidently.... Leverage chat software like Slack and Microsoft Teams ... Schedule video meetings where the attendees can see each other's expressions and react to one another in real time.... If your entire team is working remotely, find fun ways to connect."

Grooms Benefit Solutions

Employee Benefits Issues to Consider Before Deciding to Furlough or Terminate Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic

"[1] Don't assume coverage continues during leaves or furloughs or automatically ends immediately upon termination of employment.... [2] COBRA continuation coverage (or state continuation coverage, if applicable) generally must be offered for all group health plans  ... [3] The [ACA] employer penalty should be considered.... [4] Plan for how employees will keep paying monthly premiums/contributions to maintain coverage during any leave period.... [5] Before taking any employment actions, the employer should first determine whether it maintains or maintained any formal or informal severance plan or policy ... [6] 401(k) and other retirement plan implications must be considered.... [7] [R]eview all deferred compensation agreements and other employment agreements for any leave or termination impact."

Jackson Lewis P.C.

Press Releases

DOL Obtains Default Judgment to Restore $103,098 To Virginia Engineering Company Employees’ Retirement Plan
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor

Upcoming Events About Health & Welfare Plans

Mar. 23
Webcast
Employer Obligations Under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Bass, Berry & Sims LLC
Mar. 23
Webcast
Free
Paid Sick Leave, Paid Family Leave, Reductions in Force and other Symptoms of COVID-19
Jackson Lewis LLP
Mar. 23
Webcast
Free
COVID-19 Updates for Employers: Employee Benefits and Compensation Issues
Ogletree Deakins
Mar. 24
Webcast
Free
Are You Getting Good Data on What is Driving Your Healthcare Costs?
University Conference Services
Mar. 24
Webcast
Free
Merger, Divestiture and Acquisitions and Employee Benefits
Wagner Law Group P.C.
Mar. 25
Webcast
Free
Tools You Can Use: Prediabetes & Diabetes Management in the Workplace
Midwest Business Group on Health
Mar. 26
Webcast
Free
HIPAA Training for Employers: From Portability to Privacy
ABD Insurance & Financial Services
Mar. 26
Webcast
Free
Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program
Employee Benefits Security Administration [EBSA], U.S. Department of Labor
Mar. 26
Webcast
Free
Understanding Health & Welfare Section 125 Nondiscrimination Testing
ISCEBS - Pacific NW Chapter

Most Popular Items in the Previous Issue

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BenefitsLink Health & Welfare Plans Newsletter, ISSN no. 1536-9595. Copyright 2020 BenefitsLink.com, 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 BenefitsLink.com, 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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