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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HHS Finalizes Anti-Discrimination Revisions to ACA Section 1557

On June 12, 2020, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized a rule under Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the 2020 Final Rule) that rescinds certain protections afforded to LGBTQ individuals and persons with limited English proficiency. At the same time, the 2020 Final Rule removes burdensome disclosure requirements that may be a welcome relief for entities covered by Section 1557. On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that workplace discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation is forbidden under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although Title VII is not included in the precedential civil rights laws that gave rise to Section 1557, we nevertheless anticipate that the Supreme Court’s holding will lead to legal challenges in a number of areas, including healthcare and health insurance, religious exemptions and the 2020...

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Deja Vu with Retirement Plan Extension 2

In response to the administrative difficulties faced by plan administrators due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued Notice 2020-35, which extends additional retirement plan deadlines for 2020 not previously extended under IRS Notice 2020-23. The IRS also stated that this relief applies for purposes of ERISA if the tax code deadline has a corresponding ERISA provision. Access the full article.

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Returning to the Workplace in the UK: Key Issues for Employers

As the UK Government works through its phased COVID-19 recovery strategy and lockdown restrictions are progressively eased, employers in the United Kingdom are contemplating the implications of returning staff to the workplace. In this article, we address some of the key issues for employers to consider, with a particular focus on the UK Government’s “Covid-secure” workplace guidance. The issues raised in this article are subject to any local requirements that may apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Access the full article.

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Agencies Issue Helpful FAQs on COVID-19 Testing Coverage

The US Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Treasury issued a second set of answers to frequently asked questions. The tri-agency FAQs (Part 43) clarify important health and welfare provisions under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which became law on March 18, 2020, and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted on March 27, 2020. Both laws addressed Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing and prevention coverage, as well as expansion of telehealth service availability. Access the full article.

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Can Companies Be Held Liable When Their Employees Fall Ill with Coronavirus?

While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has not released specific standards covering COVID-19, Michelle Strowhiro, a partner in the Los Angeles office of McDermott Will & Emery, is quoted in a recent ABA Journal article saying that employers could face risks under Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause if they don’t take steps to protect their workplace and ensure it is not exposed to individuals who may have contracted the virus. Access the full article.

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Treasury/IRS Release Proposed Regulations on Section 4960 Excise Tax

The US Department of the Treasury has released long-expected proposed regulations regarding the section 4960 excise tax on certain remuneration or separation amounts paid to the five highest paid employees of a tax-exempt organization. The new proposed regulations continue the tough approach previously taken on section 4960 issues, while also providing some new exceptions and important clarifications. Access the full article.

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LGBTQ Title VII Ruling May Impact Your Employee Benefit Plan

On Monday, June 15, 2020, the US Supreme Court held in Bostock v. Clayton County that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects transgender, gay and lesbian employees (and prospective employees) from workplace discrimination based on sex. This means that the protective authority of Title VII for LGBTQ individuals generally extends to employer-sponsored healthcare benefits. Access the full article.

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