Latest from SW Benefits Blog

Last month, we reported that Moderna was seeking FDA authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine and reminded readers about the immunization coverage requirements in Section 3202 of the CARES Act in our SW Benefits Blog, “Free COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Update.”  As of the date of this blog, the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines have been approved and group health plans must act quickly to meet the requirements of the CARES Act. On October…
The IRS recently published Notice 2020-86 (the “Notice”), which provides clarification with respect to certain changes made by the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (the “SECURE Act”). In particular, the Notice answers several outstanding questions related to the maximum default deferral rate for qualified automatic contribution arrangements. As previously reported here, the SECURE Act raised the maximum permissible deferral rate for qualified automatic contribution arrangements to 15% of compensation…
On November 30, Moderna announced that it is seeking FDA authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine.  In addition, on November 17 the FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the first COVID-19 diagnostic test for self-testing at home.  With these recent developments, a COVID-19 update for health and welfare plans might be helpful. Free COVID-19 Vaccines – As reported in our April 1, 2020 SW Benefits Update: “The CARES Act – What Are the Health
Each year, we publish health and welfare, cost-of-living, executive compensation, and qualified retirement plan checklists to help individuals and employers stay apprised of updates to the law of employee benefits.  We recently published the last of these annual checklists.  In case you missed them, the links are below. Happy holidays! 2020 End of Year Plan Sponsor “To Do” List (Part 1) Health & Welfare 2020 End of Year Plan Sponsor “To Do” List (Part 2)
The Department of Labor’s (the “DOL”) attempts to regulate the conduct of fiduciaries under ERISA and the Code has been mired in controversy.  In 2010, the Obama administration’s DOL proposed a fiduciary regulation that was met with so much criticism that it was subsequently withdrawn in 2011.  In 2015, the DOL re-proposed a fiduciary regulation that imposed a fiduciary standard on financial advisors giving clients advice about their retirement plan investments.  The DOL issued final…
Sponsors of safe harbor Section 401(k) plans should consider whether they are required to provide their annual safe harbor notice in 2020 for the upcoming 2021 plan year.  The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement (“SECURE”) Act, which was enacted on December 20, 2019, changed the annual notice requirements for some safe harbor Section 401(k) plans. Prior to the SECURE Act, safe harbor Section 401(k) plans were required to meet certain annual notice requirements regardless…
The DOL recently issued a final rule (“Rule”) providing guidance on the long-standing issue of whether ERISA fiduciaries are permitted to consider non-pecuniary factors while making investments (or selecting investment funds) that promote one or more environmental, social or corporate governance goals (so called “ESG Investments”).  The preamble to the Rule acknowledges that ERISA fiduciaries must act solely in the interest of plan participants/beneficiaries and that courts have consistently interpreted this interest to refer to…
As in prior years, the IRS has provided relief for employers preparing to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s (“ACA”) information reporting requirements in early 2021 for the 2020 calendar year. In particular, Notice 2020-76 (the “Notice”) extends the deadline to furnish Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to employees. The new deadlines are provided, below. Original Deadline Extended Deadline Form 1095-B (to employees) January 31, 2021 March 2, 2021 Form 1095-C (to employees) January 31, 2021 March 2,…
On August 3, 2020, the IRS posted a short set of frequently asked questions for leave-sharing programs which confirm that major disaster leave-sharing programs under IRS Notice 2006-59 can be used for employees who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  As a reminder, major disaster leave-sharing programs under Notice 2006-59 permit employees to donate paid leave to their co-workers who are adversely affected by a “major disaster.”  When properly structured, the donated leave…
We previously posted about two leave-sharing programs available to employers during the COVID-19 pandemic: major disaster leave-sharing programs and medical emergency leave-sharing programs.  These leave-sharing programs may allow employees to donate paid leave to co-workers affected by COVID-19.  When properly structured under Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) guidance, the donated leave is excluded from the gross income of the donor employee.  On June 11, 2020, the IRS published Notice 2020-46, which permits employers to establish…