By now, most employers have taken a variety of steps to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including, for example, furloughs, pay cuts, telework arrangements and outright closures. Talk has now turned to restarting the economy and returning to some semblance of normal life. As we enter this next phase of an unprecedented situation, employers should consider several issues. The following list is by no means exhaustive but touches on some of the key concerns for employers.

On April 1, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a temporary rule to help employers navigate the recent expansion to paid family medical and sick leave established under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  The rule reiterates several of the “critical issues” clarified by the DOL in previous guidance on the FFCRA, further details the “small business exemption” to the FFCRA, and clarifies the instances in which the expanded family medical leave and paid sick leave overlap. 

Late last week the DOL issued two additional sets of guidance on the FFCRA to answer many of the pressing questions employers have been asking as they prepare for its April 1, 2020 effective date.  The guidance is in FAQ format and covers a wide variety of topics over a current total of 59 questions and answers. Some of the highlights include:

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides broad-spectrum relief for participants and plan sponsors of qualified plans and expanded benefits for participants in group health plans including the following:

  • For defined contribution plans including 401(k) plans, the changes include expanded in-service distribution provisions up to $100,000, relief from early withdrawal penalty taxes, a temporary increase in 401(k) plan loan limits to $100,000, and relief from minimum required distributions for the remainder of 2020. The adoption of any optional provisions may require plan amendment. It appears amendments would not have to be adopted until at least December 31, 2022.
  • There are also special rules related to funding defined benefit plans.
  • There are several provisions that impact group health plan coverage requirements. 

The post below provides a summary of certain changes of particular interest to plan sponsors.

Yesterday the Department of Labor announced its first round of published guidance to provide information to employees and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). This guidance has answered some of the most common questions we have been receiving since the law’s passage last week, but some questions remain as to how the leave will be administered. The Department is expect to announce further guidance as the week progresses. 

Yesterday, the federal government passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) in response to the challenges posed by the current COVID-19 outbreak. The legislation covers several areas, but critical for employers are two new sick leave benefits set to take effect no later than April 2, 2020.

The spread of COVID-19 as well as the responses of federal, state and local governments continues to create unprecedented challenges for employers. The following is a non-comprehensive list of some of the most frequent questions we are fielding from employers.

On March 16, Governor DeWine issued Executive Order 2020-02D, lifting certain unemployment compensation benefit restrictions during the Coronavirus outbreak. The Order is applicable only to individuals who do not have access to leave benefits through their employer. 

On March 15, Governor DeWine announced that Ohio will broaden the requirements to qualify for the state’s unemployment insurance policy.  The following changes are expected to be made through an executive order:

On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. The CDC has also declared the Coronavirus outbreak a pandemic so several modified requirements are now applicable under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

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