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New FAQs on the FFCRA Address Small Employer Exemption

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued new FAQs that address the small employer exemption to certain paid leave requirements under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).

Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for an exemption from the requirement to provide leave because a child’s school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons. To claim this exemption, an authorized officer of the company must determine that at least one of the following three conditions is satisfied:

  • The leave would result in the small business’s expenses and financial obligations exceeding available business revenues and cause the small business to cease operating at a minimal capacity;
  • The absence of the employee or employees requesting leave would entail a substantial risk to the financial health or operational capabilities of the small business because of their specialized skills, knowledge of the business or responsibilities; or
  • There are not sufficient workers who are able, willing and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, to perform the labor or services provided by the employee or employees requesting leave, and this labor or these services are needed for the small business to operate at a minimal capacity.

Click here for the DOL’s FAQs.

Coronavirus Relief Law Includes a Variety of Changes Affecting Health Plans

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) into law to provide $2.2 trillion in federal funding to address the COVID-19 crisis. The CARES Act makes a variety of changes affecting health plans. These changes include:

  • Expanding the types of coronavirus testing that all health plans and health insurance issuers must cover without cost-sharing (such as deductibles, copayments or coinsurance) or prior authorization;
  • Accelerating the process that will require health plans and issuers to cover preventive services and vaccines related to COVID-19;
  • Allowing telehealth and other remote care services to be covered under a high deductible health plan (HDHP) before the deductible is met, without affecting the HDHP’s compatibility with health savings accounts (HSAs); and
  • Treating over-the-counter (OTC) medications, along with menstrual care products, as qualified medical expenses that may be paid for using HSAs or other tax-advantaged arrangements, such as health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) or health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).

Rules Provide Direction for Employers

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued temporary regulations to implement the paid leave mandates of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The regulations provide direction for the administration of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA).

The EPSLA requires that certain employers provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to employees who need to take leave from work for certain specified reasons related to COVID-19.

The EFMLEA requires that certain employers provide up to 10 weeks of paid, and two weeks unpaid, emergency family and medical leave to eligible employees if the employee is caring for his or her son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

The DOL has provided additional information for employers and individuals about the FFCRA on its COVID-19 and the American Workplace website.

Deadline Extension Applies to Forms 5500 Due Before July 15, 2020

On April 9, 2020, the IRS issued Notice 2020-23 to extend key tax deadlines for individuals and businesses in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. IRS Notice 2020-23 extends the Form 5500 filing deadline for ERISA-covered retirement and welfare plans that have an original or extended filing deadline on or after April 1, 2020, and before July 15, 2020. These plans have until July 15, 2020, to file their Forms 5500.

This deadline extension is automatic, which means that plan sponsors do not have to have to call the IRS or file any extension forms or send letters or other documents to receive this relief. Additional filing extensions must be requested by using the appropriate extension form by July 15, 2020, but the extension may not go beyond the original or regulatory extension date.

IRS Notice 2020-23 does not extend the filing deadline for 2019 Form 5500 filings for calendar year plans, which are due on July 31, 2020.

Indiana law does not require employers to provide disability benefits.

Many states require insurance carriers to include specific mandated benefits in certain types of health insurance policies. These benefits may include required coverage for specific health care services, treatments, practices, and providers. Some mandated benefits apply only to group policies, while others apply both to individual and group policies.

A list of each state's mandated benefits is available from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Please note that these lists include only specific care, treatment, or services that a health plan must offer, and do not include the following:

  • Provider mandates, which require a health plan to reimburse specific health care professionals who render a covered service within their scope of practice;
  • Dependent mandates, which require a health plan to define dependents in a specific manner or to cover dependents under certain circumstances (e.g., newborn coverage, adopted children, domestic partners, and disabled children); or
  • State anti-discrimination requirements or state requirements relating to the service delivery method (e.g., telemedicine).

For the most up-to-date and complete list of mandated benefits in your state (including provider and dependent mandates), please contact your state insurance department.

Please Note: The state laws summaries featured on this site are for general informational purposes only. In addition to state law, certain municipalities may enact legislation that imposes different requirements. State and local laws change frequently and, as such, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information featured in the State Laws section. For more detailed information regarding state or local laws, please contact your state labor department or the appropriate local government agency.