Relief for Employers in the CARES Act

Posted in Employee Benefits, Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention, Medical & Other Leaves, Wage & Hour

The Federal Corona Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), approved Friday in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, provides businesses with a myriad of opportunities for relief, including expansion of unemployment benefits, advance refunding of tax credits for employers that provide expanded FMLA leave and emergency paid sick leave, small business loan programs, debt forgiveness, and more. Summaries of the tax provisions and provisions affecting health and welfare benefit plans are available here and here. Below are some of the key aspects of this new law and how it impacts employees and certain businesses.

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CARES Act Impacts to Employer-Sponsored Health and Welfare Benefit Plans

Posted in Employee Benefits, Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention

Health and welfare benefit plans and insurers are affected by various provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) passed on March 27, 2020. In addition to provisions impacting tax-qualified retirement plans and executive compensation (summarized here), the CARES Act affects coverage of diagnostic testing, preventive services, telehealth services, and drug reimbursement. Here are the highlights:

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Cracking Down on Employers Misclassifying Employees as Independent Contractors

Posted in Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention, Wage & Hour

New Jersey has joined California and New York City by adding significant new penalties and requirements on employers doing business in the Garden State, including new penalties for misclassifying workers as independent contractors and new posting requirements effective April 1, 2020. Illinois, New York, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and Florida considered various forms of legislation on worker misclassification in 2019, and other states may soon join the parade.

Employers in New Jersey now face penalties and other requirements set forth in six new statutes for the misclassification of workers as independent contractors. All but one of the laws already took effect this year. The new one requires employers to post a warning against the misclassification of employees and is effective on April 1, 2020.

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Summary of Key Tax Provisions in Historic Senate CARES Act Legislation

Posted in Employee Benefits, Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention

On March 26, the Senate passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act), which advances legislation intended to help Americans and businesses survive a public health and economic crisis due to COVID-19. This article provides a summary of key tax provisions in the CARES Act. The bill now moves to the House, which is expected to be finalized and voted on quickly.

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New Unemployment Obligations for Georgia Employers

Posted in Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention, Wage & Hour

Employers faced with layoffs and furloughs need to pay close attention to state unemployment laws, which are in flux and in some instances may impose extraordinary burdens on employers. For example, Georgia has extended unemployment benefits and now requires employers to file for benefits on behalf some employees impacted by COVID-19 as a result of certain changes to state unemployment compensation regulations promulgated on March 19 and March 25.

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Department of Labor Issues FFCRA Guidance, Poster

Posted in Labor Relations, Medical & Other Leaves, Wage & Hour

A flurry of publications from the United States Department of Labor (DOL) provide employers with additional details regarding the recently-passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Q&A guidance issued March 24 establishes an April 1, 2020 effective date and explains how to calculate the 500-employee threshold and hours used to determine employees’ leave entitlement. A March 24 Wage and Hour Division enforcement memorandum indicates that the Act will be subject to a 30-day limited non-enforcement period. Finally, the DOL published a required poster and guidelines for posting notices in an era of remote working. Employers subject to the FFCRA should familiarize themselves with each of these publications before the law takes effect.

The FFCRA, signed into law on March 18, 2020, provides assistance to employees and reimbursable tax credits to employees. The FFCRA requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide eligible employees with paid sick leave under two provisions: the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act. A detailed summary of the FFCRA is available here. Continue Reading

COVID-19 Inquiries and Disclosures in the Workplace

Posted in Employee Benefits, Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention

Once an employee has been exposed to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, what do you do? Once an employee has tested positive, what do you say? How does an employer walk the fine line between protecting the privacy of affected individuals and ensuring the safety of others in the workplace?

Because a national public health emergency has been declared and all 50 states and the District of Columbia have issued similar declarations, employers may go much further in their medical inquiries and exams.

Employers should ask employees to notify Human Resources if the employee has been exposed to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, so that the employer can take precautions. The same is true if the employee has tested positive for coronavirus. All self-reports by employees should be kept confidential and should be noted in separate employee medical files that the employer maintains, not in the employee’s personnel file.

The message to employees should be couched in terms making clear that asking employees to self-report is part of the employer’s effort to keep co-workers safe and stop the spread of the virus. Emphasize that finding out about exposure or potential exposure quickly is key, and given the delay with obtaining tests and test results, self-reporting is paramount.

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Notice Requirements When Furloughing Or Laying Off Workers in the Pandemic

Posted in Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention, Labor Relations, Wage & Hour

Employers contemplating layoffs or furloughs of employees as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak need to be careful. Even if they are not subject to the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act), they may be obligated to provide various notices under state “mini-WARN” acts or other state laws.

Below is a quick overview of how these federal and state laws can impact employers.

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Paid Sick Time and FMLA Expansion Law Passes

Posted in Medical & Other Leaves, Wage & Hour

Employers with fewer than 500 employees will be required to provide paid leave to certain employees impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) and will receive a tax credit in return, under a new law approved by the Senate and signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020. These measures are set to take effect no later than April 2, 2020.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, first passed by the House last weekend, was modified in the final version. For employers, the most important provisions of the final version of the law remain Division C – Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, Division E – Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, and Division G – Tax Credits for Paid Sick and Paid Family and Medical Leave.

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Rocky Mountain Employers: Brace for Sweeping Changes to Compensation and Minimum Wage Laws

Posted in Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention, Wage & Hour

Employers operating in the Rocky Mountain region need to pay close attention to the 2020 Administrative Order issued by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) mandating broad changes to employee compensation and rights. It is different than similar orders issued previously, and makes significant changes to wage and hour laws in Colorado. CDLE recently adopted the Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards Order #36 (COMPS Order #36), replacing Minimum Wage Order # 35. COMPS Order #36 is effective on March 16, 2020. Employers should note the changes required by COMPS Order #36, including the types of covered employees and employers, expansion of meal and rest breaks, and increases in minimum salary thresholds for employees exempt from minimum wage laws.

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