News and Analysis
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has posted an updated and expanded technical assistance publication addressing questions arising under federal equal employment opportunity laws related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The EEOC publication, which contains a Q&A section of common workplace questions, is available here. 6/11/2020
The COVID-19 pandemic and government actions to flatten the curve caught many businesses off guard, with many scrambling to figure out how to do business from a remote location. How prepared was your business to operate its drug-free workplace program remotely? To help prepare for future challenges, OMA Connections Partner Working Partners® has published this checklist to aid in the development of a successful game plan for operating your drug-free program from any work location. 6/3/2020
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) has taken down its unemployment insurance fraud reporting web page. This after the agency’s site was attacked by an anonymous hacker who disagreed with allowing employers to report those who refused to return to work.
On its FAQ page for employers, ODJFS says the agency’s process for determining whether to deny unemployment benefits for a refusal to return to work existed prior to the pandemic.
ODJFS “encourages employers to engage in dialogue with an employee who expresses reluctance to return to work about the measures that employers are taking to help employees feel safe.” If that approach is unsuccessful, employers may report eligibility concerns to ODJFS using this email address. 5/27/2020
As federal lawmakers consider yet another coronavirus relief package, a study this week revealed the effect of the initial federal response. According to University of Chicago researchers, two-thirds (68%) of jobless workers will bring home more money from their state unemployment insurance — and $600 weekly supplement from the federal government — than they would on the job, MarketWatch reported.
One in every five eligible workers will receive benefits worth at least double their lost earnings, the study found, as the median earnings-replacement rate was 134% of lost wages. 5/27/2020
Federal law requires a wide range of disclosures to be provided to retirement plan participants. The U.S. Department of Labor has released a final rule providing an additional method under which an administrator can satisfy the law by using electronic delivery. See this analysis by OMA Connections Partner Thompson Hine. 5/26/2020
According to this post from OMA Connections Partner Bricker & Eckler, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced that, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it will extend the deadline for employers to file their 2019 EEO-1 report to March 2021.
By extending the reporting deadline, employers who would have been required to file their 2019 EEO-1 report by May 31, 2020, will not need to file either a 2019 or the 2020 report until the new deadline in 2021. 5/18/2020
OMA Connections Partner Bricker & Eckler reports that the IRS recently issued Notice 2020-29, allowing §125 cafeteria plans and high-deductible health plan (HDHP) changes during the remainder of 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For example, employees who declined employer-sponsored health coverage at the beginning of the plan year may now elect to enroll. Employees enrolled in employer coverage can switch to different coverage offered by the same employer. Employees can disenroll from employer coverage in order to enroll in other coverage immediately. 5/18/2020
On May 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule that allows employers to pay bonuses or other incentive-based pay to salaried, nonexempt employees whose hours vary from week to week. The final rule clarifies that payments in addition to the fixed salary are compatible with the use of the fluctuating workweek method under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Read the details here. 5/20/2020
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives this week introduced the HEROES Act (aka “Phase IV” of the federal response to COVID-19). The legislation would spend another $3 trillion by providing a new round of $1,200 direct payments to individuals, and an extension to January of the $600/month in extra unemployment benefits, among other things.
See this summary of the bill by OMA Connections Partner Clark Schaefer Hackett.
The HEROES Act would require employers to provide paid sick and emergency FMLA leave to workers regardless of company size, according to reports. It would also temporarily suspend minimum hour eligibility requirements and reduce tenure requirements for non-emergency FMLA. 5/14/2020
The COVID-19 pandemic could reduce the health care costs of large, self-funded employers by as much as 4% in 2020 due to deferred medical care, according to a study by Willis Towers Watson. Other health plan costs, including dental and vision care, will likely decrease in 2020 as employees eliminate some discretionary care, according to the firm. 5/11/2020