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With all the COVID-19-related employee furloughs, layoffs, and reductions in hours, employers are no doubt finding it challenging to keep abreast of their obligations under the new and varied federal and state government regulations tied to the pandemic. With all these changes, it can be easy to overlook long-standing responsibilities like making the proper COBRA notifications to workers who are no longer working. Under COBRA, an employer must notify its group health plan administrator within…
By Katharine Finley, Senior Compliance Counsel, and Anne Tyler Hall, Principal, Hall Benefits Law With the presidential election approaching quickly, many employers are interested in the impact to benefits in the event of a change in the administration. This article provides an overview of some of the potential changes that would have a significant impact on both employers and employees in the event of a Biden win on November 3rd. The potential changes…
Many employers have been forced to reduce their workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic through layoffs or furloughs. These workforce reductions may trigger a partial retirement plan termination, which then requires 100% vesting of affected participants. Employers that rehire laid off or furloughed workers by the end of 2020 may be wondering if they have still triggered a partial termination. The IRS recently updated its Q&As regarding the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES…
By now, many employers have had at least one case of COVID-19 in their workplace. Especially considering the sweep of tort lawsuits across the country, employers’ responses to the presence of an infection in the workplace is of crucial importance to managing both legal and reputational risk exposure. As your legal risk management partner, HBL offers the following three strategies for responding to cases of COVID-19 in the workplace… Tip #1: Promptly identify and safely…
A class action lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court in Minnesota against UnitedHealth Group over an overpayment recovery process known as cross-plan offsetting that the plaintiffs claim is a prohibited transaction under ERISA. Cross-plan offsetting is a common practice that has been used for years by insurers and third-party administrators (TPAs) to recover overpayments made to health service providers. To make themselves whole, insurers and TPAs “recover” the overpayment by withholding another…
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released a heavily redacted audit report – Improvements Are Needed to Ensure That Employer Shared Responsibility Payments Are Properly Assessed – in which it faults the IRS for being too lenient on Affordable Care Act (ACA) employer shared responsibility mandate reporting and compliance. The ACA shared responsibility mandate requires that employers with at least 50 or more full-time employees offer affordable, minimum essential health coverage to…
Earlier this year, a lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas against Shell Oil Company by several participants in the company’s 401(k) plan, claiming that Shell allowed its plan recordkeeper – Fidelity Investment Institutional Operations Company, Inc. (FIIOC) – to use the participants’ personal information to cross-sell other financial products and services outside the plan in breach of its fiduciary duties under ERISA. At the heart of the plaintiff’s…
On June 29, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a Notice of Proposed Class Exemption (“Notice”) that reinstated its previous “five-part test” to determine who is an investment advice fiduciary under ERISA as well as a proposed prohibited transaction exemption for investment advice fiduciaries that is based on the Department’s temporary policy adopted after a 2018 ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the DOL’s 2016 Fiduciary Rule. Reinstatement of DOL’s…
On October 14, 2020 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a final rule that amends its procedural regulations. By increasing the EEOC’s efficiency, these procedural changes may result in an increase to employers’ liability exposure.  The regulations make the following two relevant changes: Formalize a procedure for the electronic transmission of EEOC complaints and other charge-related documents. Adopt a more understandable notice structure for claims that are denied.  These new regulations make the EEOC…
On June 23, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a proposed rule to clarify investment duties for plan fiduciaries under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) when it comes to environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing. Under ERISA, plan fiduciaries are required to act solely in the financial best interests of plan participants and beneficiaries. The DOL has issued prior guidance regarding ESG investing that clarified economic returns on an investment…