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On January 22, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce that instructed the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to provide him with a report “with recommendations to promote a $15/hour minimum wage for Federal employees.” In addition to raising the federal minimum wage, the Executive Order overturned three of the previous administration’s executive orders that weakened job and union protections for federal workers. An accompanying fact sheet
Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), employers with fewer than 500 employees are required to provide paid sick and family leave for certain COVID-19-related reasons. Employers are required to report leave payments as wages on each qualifying employee’s Form W-2. While IRS Notice 2020-54 provided guidance on the W-2 reporting requirement in July 2020, this guidance was not incorporated into Form W-2 instructions for 2020. Since most employers provide W-2s to their employees…
On January 29, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued guidance on mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The guidance outlines OSHA’s recommendations for best practices and while it does not impose any additional legal requirements on employers, the guidance also reminds employers of their obligations under existing federal laws to provide a hazard-free workplace. To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the OSHA guidance urges employers to institute a COVID-19 prevention…
In accordance with an executive order issued by President Biden on January 28, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is opening a COVID-19-related special enrollment period (SEP) for uninsured consumers to obtain health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The new COVID-19-related SEP is in effect from February 15 – May 15, 2021, for the 36 states that use the HealthCare.gov platform. The SEP is available to all eligible consumers…
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA) was signed into law on December 27, 2020. This major funding bill included the COVID-Related Tax Relief Act of 2020 and the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020, which contained the following provisions affecting partial plan terminations and other COVID-19-related distributions: Partial Plan Termination Safe Harbor The CAA provides a temporary safe harbor for partial plan terminations, stating, “A plan shall not be treated as having…
In general, employers are permitted to require that their employees be vaccinated if no disability or religious exemption applies. With two COVID-19 vaccines already authorized by the FDA for emergency use and more on the horizon, employers need to be aware of how this will affect their group health plans.  In October 2020, the Trump administration released an interim final regulation (IFR) governing coverage of the COVID-19 vaccine under employer health plans. Simply put, fully…
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA) was signed into law on December 27, 2020. This major funding bill included the COVID-Related Tax Relief Act of 2020 (COVIDTRA) and the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 (TCDTR), which contained the following provisions affecting retirement plans: Money Purchase Pension Plan Distributions May Qualify as Coronavirus-Related Distributions The CAA amended the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to allow in-service distributions from money…
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA) was signed into law on December 27, 2020. This major funding bill included the COVID-Related Tax Relief Act of 2020 and the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020. Following are highlights of the provisions affecting employer-sponsored benefit plans: Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs) The CAA allows for certain relief pursuant to health care and dependent care FSAs as follows: Carryovers — All unused benefits in plan years…
In Opinion Letter FLSA2020-20, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) provided guidance on paying overtime to live-in caregivers who work shifts of more than 24 hours based on an expected number of hours worked, and whether these overtime payments can be excluded from the regular rate and credited for overtime. The employer addressed in the Opinion Letter employs caregivers to provide in-home or live-in care services for shifts of 24 hours…
  The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, signed into law on December 27, 2020 (the “Act”), changes a myriad of different rules for employer-sponsored retirement plans and health and welfare benefits. Among the more significant of the Act’s changes is a temporary rule to provide relief for certain events related to COVID-19 that would otherwise be considered partial retirement plan terminations (which can have costly implications for the employer). The partial plan termination rules, and temporary…