Posts tagged Coronavirus.

As businesses begin the process of re-opening, many are finding that due to changed conditions, they are overstaffed. One possible solution to this problem is a reduction in force (RIF). In planning a RIF, there are a great many factors for employers to consider in the current environment, including the points listed below.

Today, the DOL announced publication of a final rule that expands the ability of retirement plans to deliver participant disclosures online or via email by establishing a new, voluntary safe harbor that allows the use of electronic media as a default for participant disclosures. The final rule is in response to the previously reported October, 2019 proposed rule which allowed plan administrators to notify retirement plan participants that required disclosures, such as SPDs, will be posted on a website. Here are some key points of the final rule:

As employers bring employees back into the workplace, many are considering various forms of testing as a means to promote employee safety. While some forms of testing are fairly straightforward, such as taking employees’ temperatures, laboratory testing for COVID-19 is not as simple. 

In Notice 2020-29 released on May 12, 2020, the IRS provides expanded options for participants with respect to 2020 mid-year election changes and also provides increased flexibility to apply unused amounts in health FSAs to medical care expenses incurred through December 31, 2020, and unused amounts in dependent care assistance programs to dependent care expenses incurred through December 31, 2020.  Although the temporary relief under Notice 2020-29 was issued in response to the COVID-19 health emergency, the relief is not limited to individuals affected by the pandemic. Specifically:

On May 4, 2020, the IRS issued Q&As on the coronavirus-related distribution and loan provisions added by Section 2022 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”). Section 2022 of the CARES Act (discussed in the March Monthly Minute) temporarily:

As Ohio businesses prepare to re-open, a question that has frequently come up is what to do about employees who refuse to return to work. We are referring to employees who are not sick or under any quarantine orders but do not want to return to work. Their reluctance is usually based on (1) fear of being exposed to COVID-19, (2) a lack of childcare because schools and daycares are closed or social distancing with nannies or other family members, or (3) making more money by staying home and collecting unemployment than they would by returning to work. 

Yesterday, the Governor issued guidance for the partial re-opening of Ohio’s economy.  The guidance includes specific directions for employers whose employees will be returning to work in several business sectors. 

Last week I wrote about a number of ongoing COVID-19 issues for employers to consider.  The issue of trade secrets in the current environment is also worth considering.  I would wager that in my twenty plus years of practicing employment law, there has never been a time when employers’ trade secrets are less secure than they are right now.  Everyone was caught off guard by the pandemic and businesses had to react to maintain operations, often by allowing telework on an unprecedented level.

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. 

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