Seriously Spiked COLAs for Qualified Retirement Plans for 2023

Qualified retirement plans will experience unusually sharp increases to compensation and contribution limitations for 2023 compared to adjustments in recent years. On October 21, 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Notice 2022-55, providing the 2023 calendar year cost-of-living adjustments, also known as COLAs, for tax-qualified retirement plans.

Stabilizing Employment Through State Unemployment Workshare Programs

Employers may be able to alleviate some of the stress and burden associated with economic downturns by working with state unemployment agencies and using workshare programs. Workshare programs allow employers to enter into agreements with state unemployment agencies to reduce employee hours without laying off employees or disqualifying them from state unemployment compensation benefits to supplement their reduced wages.

On-Demand Pay: Employees Love It, But Tax Implications Linger

Research suggests that more than 60 percent of U.S. workers would like to be able to access their earnings before their regularly scheduled paydays. Responding to this desire, many employers and their payroll providers now offer so-called on-demand pay arrangements that allow employees to receive their wages the same day they earn it. While on-demand pay may be a valuable recruiting and retention tool for employers, the immediate availability of wages carries with it certain tax implications for employers that may not easily be avoided without updates to the tax laws and regulations.

HHS, DOL, and Treasury Give Employer-Sponsored Health Plans Another Warning on Providing Contraceptive Coverage

For the second time in six months, frequently asked question (FAQ) guidance from federal regulators is calling attention to the requirement that employer-sponsored health plans provide coverage for women, without any cost sharing, for the full range of contraceptive methods approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Medical Travel Reimbursement Benefits Under the Supreme Court’s New Dobbs Decision

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its highly anticipated decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, No. 19-1392. The Dobbs decision expressly overrules the two key precedents that established and upheld a constitutional right to abortion and gives states the authority to regulate abortion.

When Retirement Plan Service Providers Use Plan Participant Data for Purposes Unrelated to a Plan: What Employers Need to Know

There is a growing trend of using participant data to cross-sell financial products unrelated to plan recordkeeping by large recordkeepers and asset custodians of employer-sponsored retirement plans. In light of the fact that plan fiduciaries are ultimately legally responsible for the management and mismanagement of a retirement plan, this trend to use participant data may raise issues for employers in their role as plan sponsors and fiduciaries.

No Surprises Act: Federal Court Invalidates Parts of the Independent Dispute Resolution Process

On February 23, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas struck down the part of the interagency interim final rule implementing the “independent dispute resolution” (IDR) procedures created by the No Surprises Act, which took effect for calendar-year plans on January 1, 2022 (Texas Medical Association v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). Though the bulk of the rule remains in effect, the changes will impact health plans and the employers that sponsor them.

Treasury Department, DOL, and HHS Provide Guidance on New Flexibility in Coverage of Over-the-Counter COVID-19 Tests

On February 4, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), U.S. Department of the Treasury, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued subregulatory guidance that provides greater flexibility and clarifies a few points on the required coverage of over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 tests, which took effect for employer health plans and health insurers on January 15, 2022. The guidance, in the form of frequently asked questions (FAQs), expands on the agencies’ prior guidance, which was issued last month. That initial guidance outlined the required coverage under section 6001 of the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) and established enforcement safe harbors for plans and insurers.

Washington Governor Clarifies That Employers Are Still ‘Legally Obligated’ to Pay Premiums Under the Washington Cares Act

On December 22, 2021, Governor Jay Inslee sent a letter to Washington’s Employment Security Department (ESD) ordering it to not collect premiums under the Washington Cares Fund program until the legislature addresses some of the law’s issues. The letter acknowledged that “legislative leadership has strongly encouraged the employer community to pause collection of premiums from employees.”

Washington Governor and Legislative Leaders Announce Delay in Long-Term Care Fund

On December 17, 2021, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, and House Speaker Laurie Jinkins released a joint statement announcing that the premium assessment under the Washington Cares Fund would be delayed. Employers had been set to collect premiums from Washington employees starting on January 1, 2022, but with this announcement, state leaders have “strongly encourage[d]” employers to “pause on collecting premiums.”

President Biden’s At-Home COVID-19 Testing Reimbursement Plan Still Awaiting Details

On December 2, 2021, President Joe Biden made comments announcing the White House’s plan for combating COVID-19 and the emerging new variant, Omicron. As part of the nine-step plan, President Biden announced an initiative that would require private health insurers to reimburse covered individuals for the cost of at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests during the public health emergency.

Employer-Provided COVID-19 Testing: An Employee Benefits Q&A

Although the fate of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) rules remains in limbo, many employers are moving ahead with efforts to comply with the OSHA emergency temporary standard (ETS) that requires employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that all are fully vaccinated or subject to COVID-19 testing at least weekly.