On September 22, 2020, US President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order, which prohibits federal contractors and recipients of federal grants from conducting certain workplace training on race and sex stereotyping. This Executive Order is likely to be challenged on various grounds, including First Amendment grounds, but all employers may wish to review their workplace training materials in anticipation of future Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) action for reverse discrimination. Access the article.
Employers must use reasonable diligence in tracking nonexempt telecommuters' work hours and may do this by providing a reporting procedure for unscheduled time, the US Department of Labor (DOL) stated in August 24 guidance. The workers then must be compensated for all reported work hours, even those not requested by the employer. In a recent article by the Society of Human Resource Management, McDermott partner Ellen Bronchetti explained that employers should have policies that prohibit working off the clock. "If an employer has an expectation that an employee was working from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm and the employee works later at night responding to emails, that could lead to wage and hour liability." Access the article.
Under the recently published final rule issued by the US Department of Labor, retirement plan administrators can choose to deliver required disclosures electronically by complying with the conditions of a new safe harbor. The final rule represents an opportunity for retirement plans to save costs and enhance participant access to disclosure documents. Access the full article.
The federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program extends relief to workers and employees who don't have access to state benefits, but it will almost certainly put pressure on gig economy companies to start paying into state unemployment insurance funds as government resources continue to diminish due to COVID-19, attorneys say. Michelle S. Strowhiro, partner at McDermott Will & Emery, said, "To the extent that, post-COVID, we want to maintain unemployment benefits for those traditionally not eligible, ... we'd have to contemplate a way that additional funding could be accessed for the long term." Access the full article.
The Department of Labor (DOL) issued a proposed rule that, if finalized, would expand its existing guidance and liberalize rules for electronic disclosure of retirement plan notices under ERISA. The proposed rule, which sets forth a notice and access safe harbor, would permit electronic disclosure as the default method of delivery while permitting participants to opt out and continue to receive paper disclosures. Access the full article.
IBM estimated last year that data breaches cost companies $148 per stolen record. Given that, not surprisingly, many employers have grown increasingly concerned about the potential impact of such breaches, including breaches that may affect employer-sponsored benefit plans. Courts have not yet formally addressed whether ERISA requires benefit plan fiduciaries to manage cybersecurity risks. However, a federal district court recently rejected a motion to dismiss filed by defendants seeking to avoid liability for fraudulent distributions from a plan caused by cyber criminals. There, the court held that the defendants were plan fiduciaries and that the plaintiffs had pled facts sufficient to allege that the defendants breached their fiduciary duties. Although this decision only relates to a motion to dismiss, the case underscores the potential for plaintiffs to assert, even in the absence of clear guidance, that plan fiduciaries are not doing enough to protect...
The House recently passed the most significant piece of proposed retirement plan legislation in more than a decade: the SECURE Act. Although the Senate must also approve the bill before it becomes law, its proposed changes have considerable bipartisan support in Congress. Plan sponsors should start considering how changes included in the SECURE Act could impact their retirement plans. Employers who do not currently offer retirement plans should also review the new retirement plan incentives included in the proposed legislation. Access the full article.
Join us Friday, May 17, as Allison Wilkerson, Brian Tiemann and Sarah Engle join host Judith Wethall to talk through the value of conducting a proactive self-audit of 401(k) plans. They will provide best practices designed to reduce the risk of costly government investigations. Attendees will come away prepared and confident in their position, and ready to respond assertively if an investigation comes to pass. Our lively 45-minute discussion will cover the following points: Self-auditing common compliance issues raised during IRS audits, including errors in administering the plan’s eligibility rules, compensation definition, loan procedures and minimum required distribution provisions Self-auditing common issues raised during DOL audits, including late payroll deposits Tips to enhance plan governance procedures Friday, May 17, 2019 10:00 – 10:45 am PST 11:00 – 11:45 am MST 12:00 – 12:45 pm CST 1:00 – 1:45 pm EST Register Now.
Last week, the Department of Labor (DOL) responded to the district court decision striking down the final regulations expanding the ability for a group of unrelated employers to form an organization in order to offer health care to its members. The DOL’s statement setting forth policy positions regarding association health plans (AHPs) indicated its intent to fight the district court decision, and offered interim relief for those employers who have obtained health coverage from AHPs relying on the DOL’s final regulations. The DOL noted that the agency is committed to taking all appropriate action within its legal authority to minimize undue consequences on employees and their families. Thus, employers participating in insured AHPs can generally maintain that coverage through the end of the plan year or, if later, the contract term. During this time, the DOL will not pursue enforcement actions involving AHP in reliance of the DOL’s final rules.
In a presentation for the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) Conference, Emily Rickard presented on ESOP plan design, operation and administration. She, along with the other presenters, identified ERISA compliance watchdogs including the plaintiff’s bar, Department of Treasury and Department of Labor, and what attracts their attention when it comes to audits. Emily also identified common mistakes employers make during the entire ESOP lifecycle (e.g. lack of employee communication, distribution strategy and planning) and provided guidance on how to correct those mistakes. View the full presentation.