Virus Stokes Telemedicine, Mental Health Benefits’ Popularity

The COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged 2020 spurred workers to take advantage of telemedicine and mental health benefits more frequently, and demand for those services isn’t expected to wane in the near future, experts say.

A recent article in Law360 examined three ways the pandemic had an impact on employee benefits over the past year, with McDermott partner Jacob Mattinson weighing in.

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New Criminal Obligations on UK Employers and Employees

In September, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 came into effect in the United Kingdom. The Regulations, together with earlier updates from the Government of the United Kingdom, require office workers who can work “effectively” from home to do so over the winter. What’s more, potential criminal liability attaches to any employer failure to comply with the Regulations.

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Healthcare and Childcare FSA Fix for 2021, Finally: Special Carryover Rules and More

The Consolidated Appropriations Act provides tax relief for workers who socked away pre-tax money into flexible spending accounts (FSAs) for 2020 and couldn’t use it because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now employees may be able to carry over all of their unused funds to use later. Even ex-employees might get more time to spend down unused money instead of forfeiting it.

In a recent article in Forbes, McDermott partner Jacob Mattinson speaks to the employer perspective on FSA carryovers.

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Cal/OSHA Adopts Emergency COVID-19 Workplace Standards

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) adopted emergency temporary standards on COVID-19 prevention in the workforce, effective as of November 30, 2020, following approval by the Office of Administrative Law. These temporary standards require most Californian employers to implement a written COVID-19 prevention program meeting certain criteria. While many employers have already followed Cal/OSHA guidance to minimize employees’ exposure to COVID-19, the new requirements warrant an immediate review of current policies to ensure compliance. For any companies that have not yet created a written plan, the rules require implementation of a written policy.

Writing for International Law Office, McDermott partners Ellen Bronchetti and Michelle Strowhiro break down the details of Cal/OSHA’s new standards.

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