The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 includes a 100% federal subsidy of COBRA premiums (including the up-to-2% administrative fees) during the period of April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021. Earlier this week, the Employee Benefits Security Administration published clarifying FAQs and model notices related to the COBRA subsidy. This update discusses the guidance most relevant to employers and highlights areas where additional guidance is still needed. Read the full article.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) includes a 100% federal subsidy of COBRA premiums (including the up-to-2% administrative fees) during the period of April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021. The subsidy applies to group health coverage typically subject to COBRA, except for health flexible spending accounts. This update summarizes the ARPA’s COBRA subsidy provisions and flags key implementation considerations to assist employers and plans with planning as we await critical additional guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service. Read More

The multiemployer pension plan system is facing a funding crisis with over 100 plans projected to become insolvent in the next 10 to 20 years. This rate of plan insolvency was projected to cause the collapse of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s (PBGC’s) multiemployer benefit insurance fund. Insolvency of both underfunded multiemployer pension plans and the PBGC would have left millions of Americans without retirement benefits.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) creates a new PBGC special financial assistance fund for troubled multiemployer pension plans, as well as several other relief provisions that will assist multiemployer pension plans in weathering the loss of contributions and financial distress caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency.

This update examines in detail each form of multiemployer pension plan relief under the ARPA, as well as potential impacts of the ARPA on employers participating in underfunded multiemployer pension plans. Read the full article.

In late December, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 that included cafeteria plan relief but left many open questions regarding how the relief provisions should be implemented and administered. The IRS issued Notice 2021-15 on February 18 to provide much needed clarification on the CAA’s cafeteria plan provisions. In this update, we discuss some of the key takeaways from the IRS’s clarifying guidance. Read the full article.

With multiple states rolling out phased access to COVID-19 vaccines, many employers are considering whether they want to require employees to be vaccinated, how to encourage employee vaccinations, and the implications of vaccine policies for their businesses. Here are some of the top questions that Perkins Coie has received from its clients. Read the full article.

President Trump signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the Omnibus Bill) on December 27, 2020. The following update provides a summary of key employee benefit provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act.

The act expands and extends certain COVID-19 relief, including new qualified disaster relief for retirement plan distributions and temporary special rules for flexible spending arrangements. Healthcare consumer protections under the act limit the potential for surprise billing and increase health cost transparency. The act also provides relief related to health care and dependent care flexible spending accounts. Read the full article.

Employee benefits professionals have faced many challenges in 2020.

The following update provides highlights of key developments that employers and other plan sponsors should consider as 2021 approaches. Read the full article.

In anticipation of the upcoming annual report and proxy season, we are highlighting new requirements and trends for public companies in 2021. This update includes:

  • SEC rule changes and guidance updates that affect annual reports and proxy statements
  • Proxy advisor policy updates
  • Key focus areas for shareholder engagement and corporate governance

Read the full article.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many employers to make unanticipated changes to their workforce, with many retailers rolling out a combination of furloughs, layoffs, and breaks in service to address changing market demands and shelter-in-place orders. Other retailers, particularly in grocery and online markets, saw an unplanned spike in demand, and went on a hiring binge and increased existing employees’ hours.

The following update addresses possible consequences of these scheduling modifications for the employees’ group health plan eligibility for the remainder of the current year and into 2021. Read the full article.

In response to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the U.S. Congress, the executive branch, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have taken several actions intended to provide immediate relief to taxpayers. In prior updates, we summarized some of the actions taken in the last several months, including the tax provisions contained in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

On August 28, 2020, the IRS issued Notice 2020-65 (the Notice), providing some basic terms for allowing the deferral of withholding, deposit, and payment of the employee’s portion of Social Security taxes (the 6.2% tax on employee wages generally required to be withheld by employers) on certain qualifying wages, as directed by the presidential memorandum (the Memorandum) issued by President Donald Trump on August 8, 2020. The Notice postpones the due date for the withholding, deposit, and payment of such taxes on qualifying wages paid between September 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020, with such deferred taxes to be repaid between January 1, 2021, and April 30, 2021. Read the full article.