COVID-19 Relief Bill: Mental Health Parity, Student Loan Payments, and Medical Expense Deductions

FAQs: Coronavirus Relief Bill Signed December 27, 2020

1. If we adopt the temporary rules pertaining to the changes for FSA elections, when can employees make changes to their elections?
The bill authorizes plan amendments to allow election changes under a health FSA and/or a dependent care FSA (a/k/a DCAP) during the plan year ending in 2021. If the plan is a calendar year plan, that means employees could be allowed to make these election changes any time on or before December 31, 2021. If the plan is a fiscal year plan with a plan year ending, for example, on June 30, 2021, employees could be allowed to make these election changes any time on or before June 30, 2021. Keep in mind that these election changes, if made, are effective only on a prospective basis. They cannot impact contributions already made to the FSA. As a practical matter, most election changes under this new rule will be made well in advance of the last day on which the changes can be made.

Optional FFCRA Paid Leave Tax Credit Extension

On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. This bill includes the $1.4 trillion fiscal 2021 appropriations and Congress’ $900 billion relief package designed to address the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 Employee Benefits Compliance Timeline

This year has brought forth significant regulatory & legislative changes due to COVID-19. Hays’ Research and Compliance Team has put together a COVID-19 Employee Benefits Timeline that highlights the rules and regulatory changes that you can use as a quick reference employer tool.

Evolving COVID-19 Vaccine, PBMs and Employer Costs

With the apparent rapid review and approval of multiple COVID-19 vaccines by the FDA, there are still aspects that need to be ironed out; however, the rollout will be applied in phases. With the first healthcare workers in the U.S. receiving the vaccine on December 14, 2020, the supply chain will continue to evolve as more vaccines become available.

Compliance Considerations | COVID and 1095-C Reporting

2020 continues to create numerous hurdles and difficulties for employers. One challenge for many employers, one that will carry into 2021, is how to complete the required Forms 1094-C and 1095-C reporting for 2020. This overview outlines some of the common reporting situations employers face due to employee terminations and furloughs. Many variables can impact these situations and therefore impact reporting. We highly recommend employers discuss these complex situations with their legal counsel and tax advisors to determine the correct way to fulfill their 1095-C reporting obligations.

Fringe Benefits to Offer During a Pandemic

Given the unusual environment that we are in as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are adapting their benefits offerings to include new ways to support their employees. While many of these strategies were born out of necessity, they are also a unique way to support recruitment and retention during this time.

COVID-19 Considerations: Increased Popularity of Voluntary Benefits

While the coronavirus is radically changing every aspect of our world and economy, it is also affecting employee benefit strategies. While “voluntary” or ancillary employee paid benefits once took a backseat to other lines of coverage, they are now at the forefront of this change. As the pandemic continues to grow, here are some solutions and programs that are gaining in popularity and are now widely being leveraged:

COVID Considerations | FFCRA Litigation Update

The DOL released updated rules for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) in response to the August 3rd, New York federal district court decision striking down four provisions of the DOL’s first set of final rules for the FFCRA. According to the DOL, the updated rules take effect September 16, 2020, and apply nationwide, providing clarity to the scope of the NY district court’s ruling.

School Reopening – New DOL FFCRA Guidance

Last week, the DOL provided employers and employees further guidance regarding the reopening of schools and how eligibility for paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) may be impacted due to the various reopening arrangements that schools are adopting.