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SDNY Vacates Portion of DOL Final Rule on Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On August 3, 2020, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York struck down four parts of the US Department of Labor’s (DOL) Final Rule implementing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). A copy of the court’s ruling is available here. The FFCRA provides COVID-19-related sick leave and family leave to employees of businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Access the article.

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How Advisers Serving MEPs and PEPs Can Be Conflicted

The most obvious potential conflict of interest for advisers setting up or serving pooled employer plans is if their practice is affiliated with the investments being selected—but there are other potential pitfalls to acknowledge. In a recent article, Erin Turley, a partner with McDermott Will & Emery, said a potential conflict of interest for advisers to PEPs would be if they were acting as either a 3(21) or 3(38) fiduciary to help select investments and were paid from plan assets. Access the article.

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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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DOL Issues Final Electronic Disclosure Rule for Retirement Plans

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.

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Pandemic Unemployment Aid Intensifies Debate Over Classifying Gig Workers

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.

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H.R. 6201: Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First) is now law and becomes effective April 2, 2020. For employers with less than 500 employees, and in certain situations for employees affected by coronavirus, Families First requires that employers provide two weeks of paid sick leave in certain situations and provide subsidized leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Tax credits will help to subsidize these requirements for affected employers. An outline of the legislation is provided. Access the full article.

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Up, Up and Away: 2020 Increased Penalties for Employee Benefit Plans

For 2020, legislation enacted in December of 2019 dramatically increases penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Code (the Code) for late filing of certain employee benefit plan notices and reports. In addition, a final rule published by the Department of Labor (DOL) makes inflation adjustments to a wide range of penalties. Learn the penalty amounts that apply beginning in 2020. Access the full article.

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What to Know Before Enforcing a Nicotine-Free Workplace

Certain employers might prefer to avoid hiring nicotine users: smokers, dippers and vapers alike. U-Haul International Inc. is doing so, with a policy that went into effect on February 1. Thus, this is an opportune moment to examine why employers might consider doing likewise, the legal ramifications of such policies and the alternatives for encouraging healthier workforces. McDermott’s Jacob M. Mattinson, Aaron Sayers and Erin Steele contribute to a Law360 article exploring the practical and legal considerations related to a workplace nicotine ban, the impact on healthcare costs, whether employers can use health plan information to fire nicotine users once hired, and how other employers are addressing the costs of nicotine usage in their workforces. Access the full article. Originally published on Law360, January 2020

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Mechanics of DB Plan QDROs Differ from Those for DC Plans

There are requirements for a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) that apply whether the QDRO is for splitting up defined contribution (DC) plan assets or defined benefit (DB) plan assets, notes McDermott’s Lisa K. Loesel. However, the mechanics of setting up QDROs vary between DC and DB plans. Read on to discover the different paths for getting the right benefits to the right people when a plan participant divorces. Access the full article. Originally published on PLANSPONSOR, January 2020

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ERISA Cases to Watch in 2020: All Eyes on the High Court

2020 is shaping up to be a banner year for benefits law, with three ERISA cases already on the US Supreme Court’s docket and a number of other high-profile lawsuits at the circuit court level that could attract the justices’ attention. While waiting on the high court’s ERISA decisions, lawyers are watching litigation trends develop in the lower courts and waiting to see if the high court picks up another two ERISA cases. McDermott’s Richard J. Pearl contributes to a Law360 article that look at what 2020 may hold for benefits litigation. Access the full article. Originally published on Law360, January 2020

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