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Can Employers Offer COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives for Employees?

Can employers offer incentives for employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine? In short, yes. Incentives may take many forms, such as a one-time bonus, a gift card or a few extra vacation hours. Employers can get creative.

According to McDermott’s Michelle S. Strowhiro, Judith Wethall and Ludia Kwon, there are two issues to consider when implementing a vaccine incentive program for purposes of complying with employment and benefits laws: the concepts of coercion and reasonable accommodation.

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COVID-19 Vaccine Q&A

Can employers mandate some employees get the vaccine and not others? Is there an obligation to consider requiring a COVID-19 test before coming back to work? What are the potential workers’ compensation claims relating to possible adverse reactions to a vaccine? Should employers mandate vaccinations?

In this article, McDermott partners Carole Spink, Joseph Mulherin, Kathleen Quinn and Troy Van Dongen answer common employer questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Ruling Gives Ammunition in Fights Over Health Insurer Clawbacks

A recent ruling from a New Jersey federal district court gives ammunition to providers fighting to stop insurers from engaging in cross-plan offsetting, a common billing practice where health insurers attempt to claw back overpaid claim money from one patient by withholding payment from another patient in a different health plan.

The ruling—which found that the practice violates the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)—could lead to more lawsuits and changes to plan documents. McDermott partner Judith Wethall said in a recent Bloomberg Law article the ruling was more significant than the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit’s 2019 ruling in Peterson v. UnitedHealth Group, Inc.

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Easing the Burden: New PBGC Rule Simplifies Multiemployer Plan Withdrawal Liability Calculations

New guidance streamlines the methods for calculating withdrawal liability for multiemployer union pension plans that have adopted benefit reductions, benefit suspensions, surcharges or contribution increases—a common occurrence with underfunded multiemployer pension plans.

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Establishing a CPOD Model: 5 Initial Steps for Employers

A “closed point of dispensing” (CPOD) is emerging as a valuable model for employers working to make vaccines more broadly available as the United States moves toward mass vaccination efforts. Establishing a CPOD requires a deliberate strategy but can be done efficiently and proactively by taking a few initial steps.

View the checklist.




DOL Issues Clarification for ERISA-Governed Group Health Plans

Two days before the one-year anniversary of the official start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the US Department of Labor (DOL) issued a last-minute notice clarifying its prior guidance that relaxed the deadlines for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act-governed group health and welfare plans (ERISA) related to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and various special enrollment and claims procedures.

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Health Plan Sponsor Assessed Attorneys’ Fees for Pursuing Meritless ERISA Claims against Plan Administrators

The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld an award of attorneys’ fees payable by a health plan sponsor to the plan administrators that the plan sponsor had sued. The plan sponsor aggressively pursued meritless Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) claims.

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Making Sure It Hurts: 2021 Increased Penalties for ERISA Violations

The Department of Labor (DOL) made inflation adjustments to a wide range of penalties for Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) violations by employee benefit plans and plan sponsors. The new penalty amounts that apply in 2021 are included herein.

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