Government-mandated protocols and social distancing directives as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to significant business interruptions and tremendous financial strain on employers. These measures may continue to disrupt businesses and the economy for the foreseeable future. As a result, employers are faced with difficult choices regarding their employees – including how to

Please join the Bass, Berry & Sims labor & employment attorneys at a webinar briefing covering key information for employers under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Employers’ obligations will become effective no later than April 2, 2020. Get the information you need to know regarding the following aspects of the Act:

  • Emergency Paid Sick

On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law. The final version of the law contains significant revisions to the bill that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Saturday, March 14, 2020.

Employers’ obligations will become effective no later than April 2, 2020. A summary of the employment-related provisions and answers to some frequently asked questions regarding the Act are provided below.

On March 23 from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. CT, we will host a webinar titled “Employer Obligations Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act”.

Please register here and join us as we discuss the latest guidance for employers and answer your frequently asked questions.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

Employers must provide paid sick time to employees who are unable to work (or telework) for the following purposes through December 31, 2020:

  1. The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine order related to COVID-19.
  2. The employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns.
  3. The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  4. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order described in (1) above or has been advised as described in (2) above.
  5. The employee is caring for a child if the school or place of care has been closed or the child care provider of such child is unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions.
  6. The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.


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On October 23, 2019, the Department of Labor (DOL) published a proposed rule that, if finalized in its current form, would make it easier for retirement plan administrators to use electronic media to furnish information to participants and beneficiaries. The proposed rule would create a new, optional safe harbor that permits plan administrators to furnish required disclosures through electronic delivery to participants and beneficiaries with valid email addresses or smartphone numbers, unless the participant or beneficiary affirmatively opts out of electronic delivery.

The proposed rule was developed in response to Executive Order 13847, issued by the White House in August 2018, which instructed the DOL to review whether actions could be taken to improve the effectiveness of retirement plan disclosures required under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and reduce costs to employers. Note that employers may not rely on the proposed rule until it is published in final form.


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In an article published by the Nashville Business Journal, Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Doug Dahl discussed student loan repayment benefits offered by employers and the IRS’s ruling last year regarding this issue.Student loan debt in the United States is escalating, and employers are finding it harder to fill open positions. In an effort to tackle both of these issues, more employers have been offering student loan repayment opportunities as part of the benefits packages they offer employees. In an article published by the Nashville Business Journal, I discussed student loan repayment benefits offered by employers and the IRS’s ruling last year regarding this issue.

For example, employers can offer student loan debt management programs that offer counseling services and access to student loan marketplaces or more favorable finance terms. In May 2018, the IRS issued a ruling allowing an employer to make contributions to its 401(k) plan on behalf of employees who make payments toward their student loan.


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Last Filing for Calendar Year Plans!

The annual filing (and fee payment) for applicable self-insured health plans and specified health insurance policies used to fund the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (the PCORI fee) is due by Wednesday, July 31, 2019. For calendar year plans and policies, this will be the last required PCORI filing and fee payment. For plan and policy years ending after December 31, 2018 and before October 1, 2019, one more filing and fee payment will be required (due July 31, 2020).

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 720, Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return, is still used to report and pay (in Part II, IRS No. 133) the annual PCORI fee. The filing rules have not changed, although the applicable rate has increased to $2.45 per covered life (announced via IRS Notice 2018-85).


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On November 29, we participated in a webinar sponsored by Bright Horizons about employer-sponsored student loan repayment benefits. In order to help employees faced with mounting student debt, employers are offering creative solutions that help attract and retain workers. Earlier this year, healthcare company Abbott announced a program in which the company will contribute 5%

In an article published by Managed Healthcare Executive, I discussed the potential impact of a recently proposed regulation from the U.S. Departments of the Treasury, Health and Human Services and Labor that expands the usability of health reimbursement arrangements (HRA). The new rule as proposed would apply for most health plans beginning January 1, 2020, and would be particularly beneficial to employees of small employers who are not required to offer health plan coverage to their full-time employees under the ACA.
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