Tag Archives: covid-19

Incentives: From Water Bottles to “Not so Substantial”

For years (and we do mean years), the EEOC has waffled about whether incentives were permissible in connection with a medical inquiry under a voluntary wellness program.  Friday, the EEOC issued its most recent pronouncement on the topic, this time related to incentives for COVID-19 vaccinations. The ADA prohibits employers from requiring medical examinations or … Continue Reading

IRS Provides Clarity on ARPA COBRA Subsidy Impact on State “Mini-COBRA” Plans

In our most recent summary of IRS Notice 2021-31, we noted the Internal Revenue Service provided much-needed clarity to looming compliance challenges as employers, insurers, and others race to implement the applicable COBRA premium subsidy provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA).  While there are many other important clarifications made by the … Continue Reading

Remote Employees: The Geographic Tax and Benefits Challenges

As the COVID-19 vaccine has become readily available, and many employers contemplate employees returning to the office to work, both employers and employees have accelerated demands for new and permanent remote work location arrangements for a variety of jobs. Employers across the country are revisiting their business strategies, employment policies, and related legal and tax … Continue Reading

Lawmakers Seek Clarity on EEOC Regulations Concerning Incentives for COVID-19 Vaccinations

Providing incentives for employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be on the minds of organizations as vaccinations pick up speed. However, concerns about privacy and the shifting positions on wellness program regulation has left many employers wary about implementing more robust incentives. According to Bloomberg, two GOP members of Congress are urging the … Continue Reading

Model ARPA COBRA Notices Have Arrived!

On April 7, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued eagerly anticipated guidance on administering COBRA subsidies under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). The guidance includes Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and various Model Notices and election forms implementing the COBRA Premium Assistance provisions under ARPA, while also announcing the launch of … Continue Reading

Happy National Employee Benefits Day, April 6, 2021!

You didn’t know it was a thing?  Or maybe, like most, you just lost track of what day it is?  Or maybe it ranks somewhere behind New Beer’s Eve (the day before the end of prohibition) and National Tartan Day, both of which are most certainly things and also fall on April 6th. If there … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Deadline Extensions—No More Time Outs but No Single Deadline Either!!

We recently provided an update on the looming end date for COBRA and other deadline extensions and the uncertainty that continues to add to the administrative burdens without more clarity from the DOL and IRS.  Message received, apparently. On behalf of the IRS, the DOL has now released Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 that attempts to … Continue Reading

Is Relief for the Plight of Multiemployer Pension Plans in the Works?

I – Overview of the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act The much-heralded Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021 (the “Butch Lewis Act of 2021”) is closer to becoming a reality as part of the COVID-19 relief bill, which is set for a vote in the House of Representatives on February … Continue Reading

COVID-19 Deadline Extensions—Still Relevant to Plan Sponsors?

In May of 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released joint-agency guidance that extended several important deadlines for employees, including COBRA election and payment deadlines, HIPAA Special Enrollment deadlines, and claims submission and appeal deadlines.  Under the guidance, plan administrators were required to extend the deadlines that would otherwise apply … Continue Reading

Mandatory COVID-19 Benefits Under Families First Coronavirus Response Act Have Ended, Now What?

In March 2020, when Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) with a sunset date of December 31, 2020, few anticipated the COVID-19 pandemic would be ongoing into 2021. Several similar state and local laws also sunset at the end of 2020. But the pandemic has not slowed, and requests for COVID-19-related leave … Continue Reading

Wellness Programs and Water Bottles, the EEOC Proposes New Rules under the ADA and GINA

Since 1996, when Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), employers have been struggling with whether and to what extent they could offer incentives to employees to participate in certain “wellness programs.” The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) position on these programs has been a significant driver of those struggles, primarily due … Continue Reading

Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021: PPP and Tax Provisions

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Act) generally provides the annual funding for the federal government and contains several important rules giving further COVID-19 relief. These include, among other things, revisions to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), expansion of the employee retention tax credit, and changes to other employer-related tax provisions. The Act was passed by … Continue Reading

Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021: Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 generally provides the annual funding for the federal government and also contains several important rules giving further COVID-19 relief. The comprehensive relief package funds certain hard-hit industries, expands eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and extends and expands the Employee Retention Tax Credit. The Act also relaxes several normally … Continue Reading

IRS Notice on Presidential Order Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations Creates Additional Uncertainty

The Internal Revenue Service has issued Notice 2020-65 to provide guidance on the employment tax deferral that is the subject of President Donald Trump’s August 8, 2020, Memorandum on Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations in Light of the Ongoing COVID-19 Disaster. Pursuant to the Notice, the due date for the withholding and payment of the employee share of Social … Continue Reading

Don’t Miss Out: Deadlines are Upon Us

Deadlines are a large part of employee benefit plan administration.  The past 12 – 18 months have contributed to potential confusion about standard deadlines and added new deadlines plan administrators will not want to overlook.  During this period, the IRS created a one-time window deadline, published extensions for some plans’ deadlines, and other deadlines were … Continue Reading

Mid-Year Safe Harbor Design Changes in a COVID-19 World

As COVID-19 continues its upheaval of nearly all aspects of life, retirement plan administration included (see some of our prior discussions here, here, here and here), the Internal Revenue Service recently issued guidance providing additional relief for the sponsors of certain plans.  IRS Notice 2020-52 clarifies requirements for mid-year changes to a safe harbor 401(k) … Continue Reading

IRS Expands and Clarifies CARES Act Distribution Rules

Since March 27, 2020 when the CARES Act was signed into law, many questions have mounted related to implementing the retirement plan provisions.  Now, with roughly 3 months under our belts since the issuance of the Act and countless CARES Act distributions and loan suspensions processed, the IRS clarified several eligibility, administrative, and taxation reporting … Continue Reading

IRS Provides Further COVID-19 Relief Related to Postponed Deadlines for Time Sensitive Actions

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, … Continue Reading

COBRA Compliance Through a COVID-19 Lens

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 … Continue Reading
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