American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: Top Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Provisions

On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). The ARPA is the latest installment of COVID-19–related stimulus packages passed by Congress in the last 12 months. Similar to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act, the ARPA contains a number of employee benefit plan and executive compensation provisions, which are highlighted below.

EEOC Issues Long-Awaited Proposed Wellness Program Rules

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued its revamped proposed rules governing employer-sponsored wellness programs. These proposed rules have been a long time coming, with the EEOC’s prior rules on the topic having been invalidated by a court and then partially revoked. In this current proposal, the EEOC has issued two separate sets of regulations: one under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and one under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA).

IRS’s New 2021 HSA and HDHP Limits

On May 20, 2020, in Revenue Procedure 2020-32, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced the annual contribution limits for 2021 for health savings accounts (HSA). The IRS also announced the 2021 definitional limits per Internal Revenue Code Section 223 for high deductible health plans (HDHP).

Leave in the Time of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health and economic cataclysm, and few employers have been able to escape its impact on their business operations and employees. In their efforts to better manage their workforces during this period of extreme economic instability, many employers are turning to unpaid leaves of absences and furloughs as a way to scale back on costs temporarily while maintaining a connection to employees whose help will be critical to restarting normal business operations (whenever that may be). However, at a time when access to health care and financial support for impacted employees is more important than ever, indefinite unpaid leaves or absence and furloughs can present complex administrative issues for many common employee benefit plans. In the discussion that follows, we highlight some of the more important employee benefits issues to consider when employees are placed on unpaid leaves of absence or furloughs.

Congress Looks to Secure Your Retirement Under the SECURE Act

In late December, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, the most sweeping retirement legislation since the Pension Protection Act of 2006. The Act, whose enabling legislation was included as part of a large government funding bill, contains many significant changes affecting employers and participants. Several provisions are effective immediately or retroactively, and others go into effect beginning in 2021.

Solving a Chronic Problem: IRS Expands Preventive Care to Include Certain Chronic Conditions

On July 17, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of the Treasury in Notice 2019-45 announced the expansion of preventive care benefits under qualifying high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). This expansion allows individuals to retain their eligibility to make contributions to health savings accounts (HSA) when covered under HDHPs that provide for first-dollar coverage for certain chronic conditions.