Coronavirus Legislative Updates for Employers in the US

COVID-19 Legislative Updates for Employers in the USAMultinational employers with employees in the US can get timely, coronavirus-related employee benefits information from this COVID-19 resource page which is updated daily by the compliance team at Alliant Employee’s Benefits.

Alliant has several other robust COVID-19 compliance resources they’ve made available to the public:

  • Coronavirus Compliance Guide: 60 FAQs organized by the following topics: Furloughs and Layoffs, New Paid Leave Requirements, Cost Containment Issues, and Benefit Plan and Employment Practice Issues.
  • Coronavirus Related Leave and Benefit Options based on Employee Status: Addresses state and federal leaves, STD, State Disability, Benefits Continuation, and Unemployment options based on the employee’s Coronavirus related circumstance. Employers can also listen to Alliant’s webcast to learn about managing COVID-19 leaves.
  • COVID Employer Tax Credit and Loan Options Chart: This chart is a high level summary of key tax credit and loan relief available to employers under the FFCRA and the CARES Act. Please note this is summary information and you should consult your tax advisor for detailed information on tax relief and loans available during this crisis.
  • Cost Containment Checklist: a checklist of items to consider and necessary tasks when making certain cost saving changes to your plan.

DOL Releases Poster on Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), FAQs on Posting, and Enforcement Delay until April 17, 2020

The Department of Labor (DOL) released the much-anticipated poster required under the FFCRA. Although the poster was only specifically required to address the new paid sick leave provision of the FFCRA it addresses both paid sick leave as well as the FMLA expansion for leave if an employee is unable to work due to a school closure or where childcare is not available as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. This is likely because the existing FMLA has its own posting requirements and required poster. The DOL also released 13 FAQs about the poster. Employers should review the FAQs on this FFCRA posting and post the FFCRA Poster for Employers as soon as practicable. For details see Alert 2020-07 DOL Releases Posting on Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and FAQs on Posting.

In addition, the DOL has indicated it will not take enforcement action against employers for violations of the Act occurring within 30 days of enactment—March 18 through April 17, 2020, provided that the employer has made reasonable, good faith efforts to comply with the Act. Additional information on what constitutes good faith efforts is available in the DOL Bulletin on this issue.

Congress Passes CARES Act

On March 25, 2020, the Senate passed a second bill, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (H.R. 748, “the CARES Act”). The House is expected to pass the CARES Act on March 27th and the President has indicated he will sign it shortly thereafter. Like the FFCRA, the CARES Act contains numerous measures intended to stabilize the economy. It includes an unprecedented spending and relief package, including expanded unemployment insurance, aid to small businesses, cash payments to households, aid to states, emergency funding for health care supplies and investments, and money for industry bailouts. Our immediate focus is the CARES Act’s implications for group health plans and employer provided leaves of absence and paid leave provisions. These provisions are addressed in detail in our Alert 2020-08 Senate Passes the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

San Francisco Cancels Annual Health Care Security Ordinance Reporting Due to the Coronavirus

Employers covered by San Francisco’s Health Care Security Ordinance (HCSO) must submit an Annual Reporting Form to the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) by April 30th of each year. However, consistent with the Mayor’s 2020 Coronavirus Emergency Proclamation, OLSE is cancelling the employer requirement to submit the 2019 Annual Reporting Form for the HCSO. Notably, the HCSO, along with all other San Francisco labor laws, remain in full effect. The HCSO requires that employers make Health Care Expenditures (health insurance, City Option payments, etc) on behalf of their covered employees. The deadline for Q1 2020 expenditures is April 30, 2020. More information is available at OLSE’s web site here.

EEOC COVID-19 Guidance Permits Employers to do Temperature Checks

A number of employers have asked whether, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic—they can take the temperature of their employees before allowing them into the workplace. The EEOC recently provided guidance on this and a number of other key employment practice issues. Generally, measuring an employee’s body temperature is a medical examination. Because the CDC and state/local health authorities have acknowledged community spread of COVID-19 and issued attendant precautions, employers may measure employees’ body temperature. However, employers should be aware that some people with COVID-19 do not have a fever and does not guarantee the workplace is virus-free.

New Jersey Individual Health Mandate Employer Reporting Deadline Delayed

New Jersey residents must have minimum essential health insurance or pay a state tax penalty that mirrors individual mandate penalties under the ACA that were repealed under Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (currently the greater of $695 or 2.5 percent of household income). Under the law, there is also a state employer reporting obligation using existing federal ACA reporting forms. Out-of-State employers who employ New Jersey residents have the same filing requirements as in-State businesses. Employers who provide information on non-residents of New Jersey should consult privacy and other laws pertaining to residents of other States before sending any sensitive or personal data to New Jersey. The state has extended the due date for health coverage filings until May 15, 2020 (filings were originally due by March 31, 2020). There is no paper filing option available. Registered filers can use the Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services’ MFT SecureTransport service, the required system for filers of 100 or more forms. Those with under 100 forms can use the Fillable Form NJ-1095 to file one form at a time.  For more information on the NJ Individual Mandate, please visit here.

Compliant with Alliant Podcast Tackles Tough Covid-19 Questions

There are currently 3 Compliant with Alliant Podcasts on Covid-19 questions and addressing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. We have a general summary of the Act, a Podcast addressing the top 15 most frequently asked questions on the Act, and a Podcast addressing furloughs, COBRA, WARN Act implications and more. Alliant’s latest FAQ also addresses furloughs, COBRA, and WARN Act implications. Alliant Podcasts and our complete series of FAQs are built into our new COVID- 19 Resources page for employers to access immediately. Otherwise, Compliant with Alliant Podcasts are always available on Spreaker, SoundCloud and iTunes.

 

Asinta’s US Partner, Alliant Employee Benefits, provided this article on coronavirus legislative update for employers in the US.