A Note From The Editor:
Human Resource professionals are juggling a range of priorities to successfully navigate the pandemic. Critical decisions are being made to return associates to the workplace, or perhaps institute a "new" hybrid model, while rapidly updating CDC compliance re-opening policies to avoid potential OSHA and DOL violations. Employers are facing new workforce expectations and increased turnover from the fallout of the pandemic. In this environment, how do employers attract and retain the best talent? What benefits are most valued by my associates? Should we require vaccines? Do we have up to date COBRA notices in light of ARPA? LukeJackson Benefit and HR Solutions is available to provide actionable insight on these important matters and more. Please contact us at 508-205-1100 or www.lukejacksoncorp.com to begin a conversation today.
LukeJackson Benefit and HR Solutions is not a law firm and does not practice law. This document is for informational purposes only.
COBRA UPDATE-MAY 31,2021 DEADLINE
Additional guidance and templates have now been provided by the Department of Labor.
- From April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021, no-cost COBRA coverage is available for employees (and their covered family members) who lost group health insurance due to an involuntary termination or reduction in hours. This subsidy does not apply to those who voluntarily quit their employment.
- Within 60 days of April 1, 2021 a notice of a special enrollment period must be sent to all eligible participants who have not yet elected COBRA coverage by April 1, 2021 or who elected COBRA coverage but then discontinued it. Due to former COBRA election deadline extensions, this group will include those who lost coverage at the start of the pandemic; however, the duration of COBRA coverage will still be measured from the date of the original qualifying event.
ICE Extends Temporary Flexibility for I-9 Forms During Pandemic
A Form I-9 is required for all new hires to verify their employment eligibility. Before March 2020, employers had to physically inspect original documents new hires presented for I-9 purposes. After the COVID-19 pandemic started, however, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) relaxed the physical inspection requirement, provided the business had no employees reporting to the workplace. Now, the agency has extended the relaxed approach through May 31, 2021, for individuals working remotely, even if the employer has other personnel reporting to work in person.
HR Daily Advisor
PCORI Fee Due July 31, 2021
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), fees are assessed for some self-insured health plans. The Comparative Effectiveness Research Fee (CERF) is designed to help fund the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 designed to fund medical research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed healthcare decisions.
Group health plans subject to PCORI fees include self-insured plans, Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA's), and some Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA's) which are not excepted benefits. For HRAs, this also includes Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangements (QSEHRAs), as well as Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Arrangements (ICHRAs) that reimburse more than only premiums for individually owned health coverage.
The PCORI fees for fully insured major medical coverage will be paid by the insurance carrier. The PCORI fees for self-funded major medical coverage will be paid by the employer.
HRA or FSA with a Fully Insured Medical Plan
If the Employer has other medical healthcare plans and that coverage is fully insured, covered lives that were already counted with the medical healthcare plan will need to be counted and paid again for the HRA or non-exempt FSA plan. The insurance carrier will pay the fees for the medical healthcare plan and the Employer will pay the fees for the HRA or non-exempt FSA plan. When calculating the HRA or FSA PCORI fee (if applicable) the employer can treat each participant in the HRA or FSA as covering a single life for purposes of the PCORI fee. No fee is required for the participant's spouse or dependent children.
For those employers that are responsible for paying the fee, the fee is paid using Tax Form 720 and is due annually on July 31 of the calendar year immediately following the last day of the plan year. For example, for a plan year ending on December 31, 2020 the form must be filed (and the fee paid) by July 31, 2021.
The CDC’s Revised Rules for the Fully Vaccinated: What This Means for Employers
On April 27th, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) further relaxed its COVID-19 protocols for fully vaccinated individuals. Of significance to employers, the CDC continues to assert that such individuals should continue to “follow guidelines issued by individual employers.”
New Rules. The CDC now says that fully vaccinated individuals (meaning at least two weeks after the second/only required shot for the vaccine in question) may:
- Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
- Visit with unvaccinated people (including children) from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
- Participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask, except in certain crowded settings and venues
- Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel
- Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States
- Refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings
- Refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic
- Refrain from routine screening testing if asymptomatic and feasible
"Hot Topics in the "News"
OSHA TARGETS EMPLOYEES THAT RETALIATE (SHRM April 27, 2021)
GENERATIONAL DISPARITY OF WHICH BENEFITS MATTER MOST (EBN April 6, 2021)
THE 5 LEVERS OF HEALTH PLAN COST CONTROL FOR 2021 (BENEFITS PRO, May 6, 2021)
RETHINKING EMPLOYEE BENEFITS FOR PERMANENTLY REMOTE WORKERS (SHRM, May 6, 2021)
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