The American Rescue Plan Act signed in March 2021 provides for a 100% COBRA premium subsidy for certain individuals who are eligible for and enroll in COBRA coverage between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021. Employers sponsoring health plans should take action quickly to ensure that the subsidy is properly administered and consider its effects on any planned layoffs or other severance events.
Continue Reading COBRA Subsidies Under ARPA: Employer Action Needed

Employers with more than 25 employees must provide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave to their California employees under a recent law signed by the Governor.  This new law is broader than California’s prior COVID-19 paid sick leave law and, unlike the prior law, also covers employees who telework. The new sick leave entitlement is retroactive to January 1, 2021 and extends until September 30, 2021. 
Continue Reading California Passes New COVID-19 Sick Leave Requirements for 2021

The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued guidance to state unemployment insurance agencies, expanding the categories of workers that are eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The PUA program was created in March 2020 to provide payments to certain people affected by COVID-19, as well as independent contractors and gig workers who do not usually qualify for unemployment insurance.  While funded by the federal government, states are responsible for administering it. 
Continue Reading Department of Labor Expands Unemployment Insurance Eligibility To Include Workers Who Declined Work Due to Pandemic Safety Concerns

Closures of schools and day care centers during the COVID-19 pandemic have put heightened focus on the child care challenges faced by working parents.  The California legislature is aiming to address these challenges by introducing a bill that, if passed, would require employers to provide subsidized backup child care benefits to employees. While this may help working parents, it also would place additional burdens on employers, many of whom are already over-taxed by the increased costs and depressed revenues caused by the pandemic.
Continue Reading California Bill Proposes To Require Employer-Subsidized Backup Childcare Benefits

Many employers will need all hands on deck once shelter-in place orders are lifted. In a perfect world, employees would return to the workplace and seamlessly divide their vacation requests throughout the remainder of the year. In reality, employees may immediately seek to take time off, causing an influx of overlapping vacation requests.
Continue Reading Viewpoint: Minimize Vacation Scheduling Conflicts in the Pandemic

Under ERISA, a plaintiff must file a lawsuit within six years of an alleged breach of fiduciary duty, or within three years if the plaintiff had “actual knowledge” of the breach. There has been a longstanding split among the circuits regarding what constitutes “actual knowledge” for purposes of determining whether ERISA’s three-year limitations period should apply. On February 26, 2020, the Supreme Court settled this issue in Intel Corp. Investment Policy Committee v. Sulyma, 140 S. Ct. 768 (2020). 
Continue Reading Actual Knowledge under the Supreme Court’s Intel Decision: Can the DOL’s New Electronic Disclosure Regulations Bridge the Divide?

On May 14, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule stating that group health plans, including employer-sponsored health plans, are not required to count the value of drug manufacturer coupons toward participant deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums.  The Final Rule, published in HHS’s Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2021, allows group health plans to exclude the value of drug manufacturer coupons from participant annual cost-sharing amounts even where no medically appropriate generic drug is available. 
Continue Reading HHS Rule is Good News for Prescription Drug Accumulator Programs

As Texas begins to reopen, some employers are recalling employees placed on furloughs or leaves of absences due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Labor recently issued guidance to clarify that an individual who is able and available to work, but refuses to take a job offer or return from a furlough, absent one of the COVID-19-related criteria, will not be eligible for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefit under the CARES Act. On April 30, 2020, the Texas Workforce Commission issued guidance stating that, depending upon the reason for refusal, these employees may remain eligible for receipt of state unemployment benefits. 
Continue Reading Texas Workers Who Refuse to Return to Work May Remain Eligible for Unemployment Benefits

The U.S. Department of Labor issued supplemental CARES Act guidance  on May 8, 2020, that addresses the interplay between the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program and partial unemployment benefits at the state level.  The FPUC program is the portion of the CARES Act that enhances state unemployment insurance benefits by $600 each week a claimant is eligible for state benefits.  That program is in effect only between the week ending April 4, 2020 and the week ending July 31, 2020.
Continue Reading Department of Labor Clarifies Entitlement to Additional $600 in Partial Unemployment Context