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New York Amends its Off-Duty Conduct Law to Account for Marijuana Use

May 3, 2021 | Blog | By Michael Arnold, Danielle Bereznay, Corbin Carter

New York’s off duty conduct law will now explicitly apply to an employee’s off-duty use of cannabis. The change in law came as a result of the recent passage of “The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act,” which generally legalized the sale and use of cannabis for individuals 21 and over, and presents real compliance challenges for employers, which we discuss further below.
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The New York State Legislature recently passed the Health and Essential Rights Act (the “HERO Act”), which has been delivered to Governor Cuomo for his signature. The legislation seeks to address continued COVID-19 safety concerns in the workplace and is designed to codify, supplement, and replace numerous executive actions that have been issued throughout the pandemic. The HERO Act would also pass into law significant new health and safety obligations for New York employers, including the formation of joint labor-management workplace safety committees to help ensure worker safety. Employers should prepare now to come into compliance with the new law, which we summarize below.
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Department of Labor Issues Model COBRA Subsidy Notices and FAQs

April 22, 2021 | Blog | By Alden Bianchi, Michael Arnold, Corbin Carter

The Department of Labor has issued model notices regarding COBRA premium assistance (a/k/a COBRA subsidies). As we wrote about here, as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Congress sought to enable qualifying individuals – known under the law as “Assistance Eligible Individuals” – to continue their healthcare coverage by subsidizing their COBRA premium payments for the period between April 1 and September 30, 2021. We discuss these notice requirements and related issues below.
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The recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the “Act”) creates a federal subsidy covering 100% of COBRA premiums for certain employees and other qualified beneficiaries. The subsidy is payable during the six-month period commencing April 1, 2021 and ending September 30, 2021. Individuals who previously experienced an involuntary termination, or reduction in hours, but who did not elect COBRA, are allowed to enroll. Similarly, individuals who dropped COBRA coverage, but who are still within their original COBRA coverage period, are allowed to re-enroll. Employers are reimbursed for the cost of the subsidy through a payroll tax credit.
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ALERT: New COVID-19 Vaccine Paid Leave for New York Employees

March 16, 2021 | Blog | By Corbin Carter, Brie Kluytenaar

As we enter the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York employers must now grapple with another new paid leave requirement from New York State.  A new law signed by Governor Cuomo on March 12, 2021 amends New York’s Labor Law and entitles employees up to four hours of paid leave per COVID-19 vaccine injection.  The law is effective immediately, and the law’s leave entitlement is set to expire on December 31, 2022. We note key provisions of the new law below.
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On February 26, 2021, the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) issued Notice 2021-01 (the “Notice”). The Notice was issued jointly with the Department of the Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Health and Human Services (the “Departments”). Entitled “Guidance on Continuation of Relief for Employee Benefit Plans and Plan Participants and Beneficiaries Due to the COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) Outbreak,” the Notice provides much needed guidance to group health plan sponsors on (among other things) when COBRA notice and election periods, which had been previously extended [in May 2020], will come to an end. This guidance was necessary because earlier regulatory relief extending COBRA notice and election periods was about to expire as a result of a statutory deadline. This post explains the impact of the Notice on sponsors of group health plans.
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Navigating Voluntary COVID-19 Vaccination Programs & Incentives

February 19, 2021 | Blog | By Corbin Carter, Alden Bianchi

As COVID-19 vaccines become more available, employment-based programs requiring or incentivizing employee vaccination will become more commonplace. In a previous post, we covered recent employer guidance from the CDC, with a particular focus on mandatory workplace testing programs. This post examines how an employer might design a voluntary workplace vaccination program using incentives to encourage participation, and how to avoid potential pitfalls in doing so.
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Getting Back to Basics: Intermittent FMLA Leave

February 17, 2021 | Blog | By Delaney Busch

In concept, the FMLA is simple. In practice, however, administering FMLA leave, particularly on an intermittent basis can quickly become complicated, and many employers struggle trying to track and manage intermittent leaves. This post addresses some of the intermittent leave-related issues employers may face and offers best practices for ensuring compliance with the law.
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New York State Department of Labor Updates Guidance on COVID-19 Leave Law

February 10, 2021 | Blog | By Corbin Carter, Michael Arnold

The New York State’s Department of Labor recently issued new Quarantine Leave guidance for 2021 – guidance that is certainly controversial in that it seemingly goes beyond the statutory text of the NY COVID-19 Quarantine Leave Law to create expansive new employer mandates. We previously wrote about New York’s COVID-19 leave requirements here and here. While the new guidance seems ripe for legal challenge, it nonetheless reflects the new position of the NYSDOL. Employers should review this new guidance – keeping in mind its informal, non-binding nature – as the pandemic continues to affect leave decision-making.
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CDC Issues Expanded Guidance for Workplace COVID-19 Testing Programs

February 5, 2021 | Blog | By Danielle Bereznay, Michael Arnold

The CDC has issued new guidance focused on ensuring employees’ informed consent for COVID-19 testing in the workplace. This builds on earlier guidance the CDC issued regarding workplace testing programs last fall. Because the CDC notes that employers should not conduct testing without an employee’s informed consent, employers should be prepared to answer employee questions and concerns by utilizing the recommend framework discussed below.
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In this post we begin an in-depth examination of these provisions starting with the Consolidated Appropriations Act’s effect on flexible spending arrangements, which provides employers with an expanded set of options to allow mid-year election changes.
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Read the transcript of CompensationStandard.com’s November 2020 webcast titled, “Pay Equity: What Compensation Committees Need to Know” in which Anne L. Bruno was among the experts to discuss pay equity, shareholder expectations, disclosure trends, board oversight, and more.
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WEBINAR REMINDER: Mandatory or Voluntary Workplace Vaccination — Guidance for Employers

January 13, 2021 | Blog | By Geri Haight, Jennifer Rubin, Joanne Hawana

Please join Mintz’s Employment, Labor & Benefits and Health Law attorneys and noted immunologist Dr. Darryl Carter for a webinar to discuss key takeaways from the EEOC’s recently updated vaccination guidance and other COVID-19–related workplace question.
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The New York City Council has expanded NYC’s Fair Chance Act to further restrict NYC employers from taking adverse actions against applicants or employees based on their criminal history.  The law will go into effect on or about July 28, 2021.  We highlight the changes in the law and action items below.

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California East? D.C. Passes Comprehensive Ban of Non-Compete Agreements

January 8, 2021 | Blog | By David Barmak, Danielle Bereznay

The District of Columbia Council has passed the Ban On Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2020 (“the Act”). If it goes into effect (and we are monitoring closely whether it will), it will almost entirely ban non-compete agreements in D.C., prohibiting employers from restricting an employee’s employment by a competitor and giving D.C. the distinction of joining California, North Dakota, and Oklahoma, with one of the broadest statutory bans of non-compete agreements in the United States.
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Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law – January 2021 Update for Employers

January 8, 2021 | Blog | By Natalie C. Groot, Patricia Moran, Emma Follansbee

Happy New Year! While many of us are thrilled to see 2020 in the rear view, 2021 ushers in a huge challenge for Massachusetts employers – the beginning of benefits and Job protections under the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave law (MAPFML).
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In a recently decided case, Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) does not preempt an Arkansas statute that regulates reimbursement levels paid by Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) to local pharmacies.
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New COVID-19 Stimulus Package Becomes Law: FFCRA Considerations for Employers

December 28, 2020 | Blog | By Corbin Carter, Michael Arnold

The new COVID-19 stimulus package is now law. As discussed herein, it provides some employers an incentive to extend COVID-19 related FFCRA leave benefits through Q1 2021.
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The EEOC has updated its guidance regarding mandatory vaccination in the workplace and has outlined the permissible scope of a mandatory vaccination program. While the guidance has neither the force nor application of a statute or regulation, it provides a compelling structure for a legally compliant mandatory workplace vaccination program.
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Employer Vaccine Practices May Spur Bias, Consumer Claims

December 9, 2020 | Blog | By Jennifer Rubin

Mintz Member Jennifer B. Rubin authored an article published by Law360 that examined legal challenges employers face as they contemplate the impact of the coronavirus vaccine on the workforce, and how mandatory vaccination programs may create a workforce of immuno-haves, or those who have received the vaccination, and potentially expose employers to employment and consumer claims.
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