Most states have issued some form of 'shelter in place' or 'stay at home' order to flatten the curve of COVID-19. As a result, many business operations have been temporarily suspended, unless the business is engaged in essential or critical infrastructure functions or supports businesses engaged in such functions. For businesses that are considered 'essential' and have employees still reporting to work, what steps can employers take to keep their workplace healthy and safe? Access the full article.
In recognition of the difficulties faced by retirement plan sponsors, participants and beneficiaries due to the COVID-19 pandemic, new guidance extends the deadlines for notices and disclosures required by Title I of ERISA and extends deadlines for retirement plan participants and beneficiaries to submit benefit claims and benefit appeals. The new guidance also provides some welcome fiduciary relief for electronic disclosures, incomplete plan loan or distribution documentation, as well as delayed participant contributions and loan repayments. Access the full article.
The US tax rules governing the taxation of equity awards for globally mobile employees are complex and in some cases, uncertain. Among other things, employers must consider the type of award, grant and vesting dates, and sourcing rules to ensure proper reporting and withholding for non-US employees that have worked in the United States. The travel restrictions have caused US multinational businesses to review their existing processes for how they compute and report taxable income for non-US employees working in the United States, especially with regard to vesting of equity arrangements. Access the full article.
The US Department of Labor, in conjunction with the Internal Revenue Service and US Department of the Treasury, issued guidance and deadline extensions applicable to ERISA-governed group health and welfare plans. The guidance provides relief for plan sponsors, plan administrators and plan participants that may be struggling to comply with applicable deadlines and requirements in the midst of the chaos related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Access the full article.
The Ninth Circuit's recent en banc ruling that employers can't excuse sex-based pay gaps by pointing to workers' past salaries deepened a circuit split over the federal Equal Pay Act, a development that could push the issue up to the US Supreme Court. The majority's opinion puts the Ninth Circuit directly at odds with the Seventh Circuit amid a growing debate between workers' and employers' advocates over whether the common practice of basing salary offers on workers' past salaries perpetuates illegal pay disparities between men and women. Access the full article.
The CARES Act created several payroll tax deferral opportunities but also left employer board members and executives asking what exactly was deferred and worrying about “responsible person” liability. In particular, Section 2302 of the CARES Act (Public Law 116-136) allows all employers to defer the deposit and payment of the employer’s portion of Social Security taxes for a minimum of 12 months and, for some deferrals, a period of more than 32 months. Despite the confusion among some advisers, unlike the employee retention tax credit available under the CARES Act, this opportunity to defer employer Social Security taxes is even available for those employers applying for Small Business Administration loans. Access the full article.
Decisions aimed at preserving your workforce in response to the COVID-19 pandemic can have a long-term impact on your business. As you prepare to emerge from government shutdown orders, recall that your workforce is your single most valuable asset. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides employee retention tax credits to help employers defray the cost of keeping their workforces intact in the post-COVID business environment. At the same time, taking advantage of these credits requires careful, upfront planning, particularly in light of the recent FAQs issued by the IRS. During our interactive discussion, we will address the critical matters that you need to understand when planning for these credits, including: What constitutes a partial suspension of business operations, and how government shutdown orders impact those suspensions under the FAQs Which types of compensation and benefits are considered “qualified wages” under the...
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Germany has introduced special occupational safety measures to protect the health of employees, restore economic activity and interrupt the chains of infection. On April 16, 2020, Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs (Bundesminister für Arbeit und Soziales) Hubertus Heil and the CEO of the German statutory accident insurance (Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung) Dr. Stefan Hussy presented a unified occupational health and safety standard for the duration of the Coronavirus pandemic. The regulations took effect immediately. Access full article here.
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has issued its sixth update to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Guidance (Guidance). Separately, the UK Treasury has issued a Treasury Direction (Direction) to HMRC setting out the legal framework for the Scheme. There are few points that have been clarified in the Guidance, but there is one glaring inconsistency between the Guidance and the Direction that will be of understandable concern to employers – the requirement that there is a written record of the furlough arrangement. Access full article here.
Executives are no longer reluctant to lawyer up. News reports on executive/employer contretemps at Papa John's, Barnes & Noble, Uber and other companies have drawn press attention in the past year; countless other executive/employer disputes have flown below radar. Underlying these controversies is the executive’s employment agreement, typically the most high-stakes and closely negotiated employment agreements to which companies will contract. Yet, these agreements often contain less clarity and less certainty than either executives or their employers need. Indeed, there appear to be three areas where these contracts could and should be upgraded. Let’s look at each. Access the full article. Originally published by Law360, February 2019.