What to Do When Scared Workers Do Not Respond to Work Due to COVID-19

Some essential workers are refusing to go to work out of fear of contracting COVID-19. Their employers must weigh the employees’ legal rights and understandable health concerns with the organizations’ business needs. It can be a tough balancing act. In a recent article, McDermott Partner Pankit Doshi said employers may relax documentation requirements due to the difficulty some employees could have obtaining access to medical providers during the pandemic and to encourage ill employees to stay away from work. Access the article.

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Use of the Coronavirus Alert App in the Employment Relationship in Germany

In Germany, a Corona Alert App has been deployed. If a user tests positive for COVID-19, it’s entirely up to the user to share the test result via the app. Employees are at liberty to use the app voluntarily on their personal devices, but employers cannot oblige employees to use it on a private or company mobile phone outside of working hours. Access the article.

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The Biggest Benefits Rulings of 2020: Midyear Report

The US Supreme Court took up several Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) cases this term, handing down both a major loss and a substantial win to employees looking to sue their employers over retirement plan mismanagement. In a recent Law360 article, McDermott Partner Chris Nemeth discusses these decisions. "It's going to be really interesting to see how this plays out," said Nemeth. Access the article.

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Background Checks: The Advent of the New California Employment Class Action

Class action litigation brought under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is on the rise—particularly in California—after the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a 2017 decision applying a hypertechnical approach to the FCRA’s disclosure requirements. Background checks are an integral part of the hiring process, but they open employers up to lawsuits for noncompliance with disclosure or adverse action requirements. Plaintiffs’ firms are turning their attention to these cases because of the potential for statutory and actual damages, punitive damages, costs and attorneys’ fees. Please join us for a complimentary webinar Thursday, July 30 as we discuss strategies to help employers avoid and defend these claims. Learn more and register.

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The New Electronic Disclosure Rule is Here

Plan Sponsor Council of America hosted a webinar to discuss the new electronic disclosure rule for retirement plans from the US Department of Labor (DOL), which took effect July 26, 2020. The rule allows employers to deliver disclosures to plan participants primarily electronically, which the DOL says will reduce printing, mailing, and related plan costs by an estimated $3.2 billion over the next decade. Speakers included McDermott's Andrew Liazos, and the topics discussed included: New Safe Harbors, Effective Date and Scope of Rules Notice and Access Safe Harbor E-Disclosure Rule Q & A Access the presentation slides.

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Use a Checklist to Avoid LGBTQ Discrimination in Your Benefits Programs

The US Supreme Court ruled June 15 in Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga. that the prohibition against sex discrimination in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act covers sexual orientation and gender identity. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including part-time and temporary workers. Following the decision, benefits experts advise that employers review their benefits programs to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) employees are treated equally. Employers can use a checklist to find and correct discriminatory language and practices, and thereby reduce the likelihood of being sued under Title VII or other statutes that provide employees with sexual-orientation and gender-identity protections. Access the full article.

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Revisit Wage and Hour Policies During the Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has shifted some employees to remote work permanently while others are telecommuting more frequently. Employers' wage and hour policies and enforcement should account for the rise in telework. "Ensure that employees understand that time spent checking e-mails is compensable," said Ellen Bronchetti, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery in San Francisco, in a recent article by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). "Employers should conduct periodic audits to ensure employees are not checking e-mails off the clock." Consider requesting supervisors regularly certify that they did not call, text or e-mail a nonexempt employee outside workhours, Bronchetti said. Access the full article.

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More Caring: New CARES Act Guidance for Retirement and Nonqualified Plans

New Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance expands the availability of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) distributions and loans under eligible retirement plans, and it provides important clarifications regarding how to administer and report CARES Act distributions and loans. The guidance also provides welcome relief for a participant who receives a CARES Act distribution, allowing the participant to revoke an otherwise irrevocable salary deferral election under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan. Finally, consistent with prior guidance, the new IRS guidance confirms that CARES Act provisions are optional, meaning that plan sponsors may choose whether to implement CARES Act changes. Access the full article.

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