COVID-19 Workplace Law Advisor

The Internal Revenue Service has relaxed spousal notarization and plan representative witness requirements in 2020 for retirement plan elections in IRS Notice 2020-42. The notice addresses the physical presence requirement for notarization or witnessing of certain plan elections and provides temporary relief permitting remote notarization and witnessing subject to certain requirements. For the period from January 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020, IRS Notice 2020-42 provides temporary relief from the physical presence requirement for…
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued guidance for construction industry employers to prevent spread of COVID-19. In addition to measures the agency suggests for all employers, the guidance includes a variety of preventive measures at construction sites, such as: Using Environmental Protection Agency-approved cleaning chemicals from List N or that have label claims against COVID-19 for cleaning frequently touched surfaces like tools, handles, and machines; Using physical barriers (such as walls,…
At the beginning of May, California implemented a staged reopening for businesses closed due to the shelter in place orders resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. This plan, referred to as the “Resilience Roadmap” allowed for counties to apply for a variance if certain criteria set by the state public health officer are met. The variances allow counties to proceed with reopening certain businesses not permitted under the overall state plan. To date, a majority of…
We previously wrote about the Department of Labor’s proposed expansion of its safe harbor for electronic delivery of certain retirement plan disclosures required under ERISA.  The wait is finally over, with publication of the final rule (the “New Rule”) helped along by the DOL’s desire to alleviate some of the “disclosure-related problems being reported by a great many retirement plans” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Plan administrators have long bemoaned the narrow parameters of the DOL’s…
Premium processing will resume in stages according to USCIS. Cap-subject H-1B petitions will be included only in the last phase. June 1, 2020: USCIS will accept requests for premium processing for all eligible Form I-140 Immigrant Visa Petitions.  EB1-C Multi-National Manager or Executive and EB2 National Interest Waiver petitions are not eligible for premium processing. June 8, 2020: USCIS will accept upgrades to premium processing for all I-129 petitions filed before June 8, 2020…
Following Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that dental practices across New York State may reopen to perform all dental care, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) has issued minimum safety and social distancing standards in its “Interim Guidance for Dentistry During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.” The Interim Guidance applies to all dental care, including both emergency and non-emergency or elective care, and will remain in effect until it is rescinded or…
On May 28, 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released an advanced version of Notice 2020-35, which amplifies the relief it had previously provided from deadlines for certain time-sensitive actions.  The relief offered by Notice 2020-35 is provided because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and is in addition to the relief provided by Notice 2020-18, Notice 2020-20, and Notice 2020-23. Specifically, Notice 2020-35 amplifies the definition of “affected taxpayer” to include…
Over the last few weeks, we have seen significant changes affecting COBRA compliance. Employers should contact their COBRA administrators to discuss the best practices in light of these developments, which include the Department of Labor’s publication of new model COBRA notices and COVID-19 notice and premium payment extensions.  We have a helpful article that discusses agency publications.   This is especially important, given the recent flurry of class action cases involving  COBRA notices.  A recording and…
In addition to the  COVID-19-related travel restrictions and consular closures, Chinese graduate students and post-doctoral researchers will now face another hurdle in coming to the U.S. As of noon (EDT) on June 1, 2020, President Donald Trump’s “Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Students and Researchers from the People’s Republic of China” became effective. The Proclamation bans the entry on F or J visas of PRC nationals who wish…