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.
As we progress into 2021, the pandemic’s far-reaching implications continue to unfold. Every individual is unique, but trends have begun to emerge for large populations and by generation.
The pandemic has made drastic shifts in many people’s financial lives. Roughly 20 million Americans stopped contributing to their retirement savings during the pandemic.
On February 26, 2021, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Treasury (collectively, the Departments) issued a new set of FAQs addressing the obligations of health plans and issuers to provide benefits for certain COVID-19 related-services. FAQ Part 44 further expands upon and clarifies recent guidance issued by the Departments regarding requirements under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
Last April’s EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01 provided extensions for certain deadlines for COBRA, HIPAA, and claims filing timeframes, effective March 1, 2020. Under the extension, the affected timelines were “paused” until the earlier of the end of the “Outbreak Period” (60 days after the COVID-19 national emergency was declared over) or one year (February 28, 2021).
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.
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.
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.
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.