Benefits Law Update

A blog from the attorneys of Verrill

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Category: COVID-19

Massachusetts Now Requires Paid COVID-19 Leave for all Employees

Massachusetts now requires all employers, regardless of size, with Massachusetts employees to offer employees paid, job-protected leave for certain COVID-19-related reasons, including to get or recover from a COVID-19 vaccine. Massachusetts also has established a fund to reimburse employers for the cost of providing COVID-19 paid leave required by...
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Faculty Retirement Incentive Programs: What Does the Law Permit?

A recent survey of full-time college and university faculty found that, as of the beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year, approximately 25% of those surveyed expected to retire later than they had anticipated before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and almost 40% of those aged 50-59 expected to...
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COVID-19 Vaccination Incentive Programs: Additional Guidance and Some Comfort

Earlier today the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released guidance confirming that employers may offer incentives to employees who voluntarily obtain a COVID-19 vaccination. The guidance (available here ) appears as an update to earlier technical guidance issued by the EEOC and also offers new information regarding an...
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ARPA Premium Subsidy: Long-Awaited Details Finally Arrive

The IRS recently issued Notice 2021-31 , which provides much sought-after detail regarding the contours and operation of the temporary premium subsidy for COBRA continuation coverage available through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). As enacted on March 11, the basic mechanics of the COBRA premium subsidy...
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IRS Notice 2021-26 Clarifies Taxation of Dependent Care Assistance Programs

On May 10, 2021, the IRS issued Notice 2021-26 , which provides guidance regarding the taxation of dependent care assistance benefits provided through a Code Section 125 cafeteria plan, available in tax years ending in 2021 and 2022 due to the application of certain temporary pandemic relief provisions relating...
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Webinar: The Effect of COVID-19 on Employee Benefit Plans – Making Sense of the Abundance of New Legislation and Guidance

Join us on Thursday, March 18 for the next segment in the virtual series that comprises Verrill’s 2021 Employment Law Annual Update! For this segment, employee benefits attorneys Karen Hartford, Bill Jewett, and Chris Lockman will examine the various relief provided by legislation, regulatory action, and agency guidance intended...
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Partial Plan Terminations – An Update

In our April 2020 post , we detailed how employee layoffs can cause a qualified retirement plan to undergo a “partial termination,” resulting in required 100% vesting of the affected employees’ benefits. As 2020 drew to a close, with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to affect many businesses, Congress enacted...
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Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 Includes Flexible Spending Account Relief

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (the “Act”) was signed into law on December 27, 2020. Buried within its 5,593 pages is some welcome flexibility relating to 2020 and 2021 health care and dependent care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). Specifically: Expanded Carry-Over or Grace Period Under the Act, health...
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Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation 2020 Year-End Client Advisory

Click here to view as a PDF . This Client Advisory highlights important developments in the law governing employee benefit plans over the past year. It offers insight into what these developments mean for employers and plan sponsors and previews developments we expect to see in 2021. The following...
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COVID-19 Extension Guidance Makes the Interplay Between COBRA and Medicare (a Bit) Trickier

The rules concerning the interplay between COBRA and Medicare are a frequent source of confusion for employers. The spike in retirements, layoffs, and furloughs attributable to the coronavirus pandemic has produced an environment where employers may be confronted with these rules more frequently. In addition, guidance extending certain COBRA...
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Allocation of Medical Loss Ratio Rebates and Premium Refunds

One consequence of the current COVID-19 crisis for group health plans has been the significant reduction in employee preventive care and elective medical procedures as people shelter in place and socially distance. When group health plan premiums were established last year, the underwriters could not have foreseen 2020’s underutilization...
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A Chronology of COVID-19 Relief for ERISA Plans

This chronology traces the major ongoing relief provided by legislation, regulatory action, and other agency guidance to assist ERISA plan participants, fiduciaries, and sponsors during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic through August 10, 2020. Superseded agency guidance is not included in the chronology. Terms/acronyms used: COVID-19 – Includes statutory and...
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IRS Allows Tax-Advantaged Leave Donation to COVID-19 Relief Organizations

UPDATE (added July 22, 2021): The IRS has extended the deadline for employer contributions to charitable organizations for the relief of victims of COVID-19 as part of a leave donation program. In Notice 2021-42 , the IRS announced that employees will receive favorable tax treatment for donated leave if...
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IRS Issues New Guidance on CARES Act Retirement Plan Distributions and Loans

The IRS recently issued Notice 2020-50 , which expands relief provided for retirement plan distributions and loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Distributions Under the CARES Act, a retirement plan may allow participants affected by COVID-19 to elect cash distributions in an amount...
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DOL E-Disclosure Rule Recognizes Our New (Digital) Reality

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to find new ways to work through digital technology. Now, more than ever, an enormous percentage of our communications occur over the phone and online. The Department of Labor’s recent publication of final rules permitting electronic disclosure by retirement plans as a default...
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Employee Layoffs May Vest Retirement Plan Benefits

Increasing numbers of employers are being forced to shutter places of business and lay off workers as the coronavirus pandemic continues. When laid off workers are participants in their employer’s qualified retirement plan, one consequence of the aggregate layoffs may be a partial termination of the plan under ERISA...
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With CARES Act, Congress provides retirement plan relief and group health plan changes

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, includes a number of provisions that affect retirement plan sponsors and participants. These provisions are designed to provide relief to participants and employers facing financial difficulty as a result of the coronavirus pandemic...
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Paying Health Insurance Premiums for Furloughed or Laid Off Employees

Employers of all sizes in nearly every industry have had to lay off or furlough employees in an attempt to deal with the massive business disruptions caused by the spread of COVID-19. Facing this reality, many employers have asked whether they can pay monthly health insurance premiums on behalf...
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Congress Passes Emergency Paid Leave Laws in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic

On March 18, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act , a temporary measure designed to increase the availability of paid leave during a time when many employees are being directed to stay at home. The following is a brief summary of...
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Leave Sharing Programs: A Critical Bridge for Employees Affected by COVID-19

The federal government may soon be providing paid leave assistance to employees affected by COVID-19. In the meantime, however, employers that maintain leave sharing programs can leverage those programs to help soften the financial impact on employees forced to miss work because of COVID-19. Leave sharing programs allow employees...
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High-deductible health plans can cover coronavirus costs

Recognizing the need to eliminate potential administrative and financial barriers to testing for and treatment of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), in Notice 2020-15 , posted today on IRS.gov, the IRS advised that high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) can pay for COVID-19-related testing and treatment, without jeopardizing their status. This...
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