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401(k) plans must, by law, limit the circumstances under which plan money can be withdrawn by active employees. However, 401(k) plans can (and most do) allow in-service withdrawals in the event of an employee’s financial hardship. The COVID-19 pandemic is guaranteed to have financial repercussions for many 401(k) participants, and hardship distributions may provide a financial bridge to better times. The post summarizes the hardship distribution rules to help 401(k) plan sponsors prepare for an uptick in requests. It should be noted that the hardship distribution rules changed in 2018 and 2019, so employers are advised to confirm that they are familiar with the most current rules.
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COVID-19 Update: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act Becomes Law

March 19, 2020 | Blog | By Michael Arnold, David Barmak, Danielle Bereznay

President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law late Wednesday night.  We summarize the enacted version below (which replaces our analysis of an earlier version the House passed, which it since amended).  The law goes into effect into effect April 2, 2020 and will remain in place until the end of the year. 
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As part of the continuing effort to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Newsom has issued an Executive Order temporarily modifying the California WARN Act requirements for employers engaging in mass layoffs.
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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued an expansive executive order, which mandates that, beginning Friday, March 20, 2020, at 8:00 PM, all “non-essential” businesses and non-profits entities in New York State must reduce their in-office workforce by at least 75%, and where possible, utilize telecommuting arrangements.
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In response to COVID-19, Massachusetts has directed health insurance carriers to, among other things, relax cost-sharing and enhance telemedicine services. These directives are part of the Commonwealth’s package of efforts to encourage early detection and treatment of COVID-19, and to slow the transmission of COVID-19. Massachusetts carriers have answered the call by enhancing benefits and services, in some cases beyond what the new directives require. Employers can play a key role by informing employees of these new benefits and encouraging employees to use the benefits.
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In our recent blog posts, we discussed the impact coronavirus / COVID-19 is having on the workforce, and what employers should or should not be doing in response to the outbreak.  On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization’s (“WHO”) declared the coronavirus outbreak is a “pandemic.”
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On March 12, 2020, the IRS issued notice 2020-15, providing that a health plan will not fail to be a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) merely because it provides testing for and treatment of COVID-19 without a deductible or subject to a reduced deductible. Therefore, an individual who participates in such a plan may continue to participate in a Health Savings Account (HSA).
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Coronavirus Also Impacts Employee Mental Health

March 12, 2020 | Blog | By Jennifer Rubin

The CDC and other governmental agencies have been critical in guiding employers with recommended protocols for the physical health and safety of employees and other individuals in our workplaces. While an employee’s physical well-being is important, employers should not overlook the mental health issues impacting employees in connection with their response to the coronavirus pandemic in the workplace.
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Teleworking and the COVID-19 Outbreak

March 12, 2020 | Blog | By Katharine Beattie, Corbin Carter

One of the most pressing questions presented by the COVID-19 coronavirus is how companies can balance employees’ health and wellbeing (including both virus-related symptoms and associated anxieties) with the business’s operating needs. Although not a cure-all, the implementation of teleworking (i.e. remote working) is one way that certain equipped companies can keep their employees (and those they interact with) safe, without significantly impacting business operations. In this post, we highlight the benefits of teleworking, where possible, and suggest best practices for employers looking to institute temporary teleworking arrangements.
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Coronavirus Continues to Spread: What Employers Should Be Doing

February 27, 2020 | Blog | By Emma Follansbee

In light of the Coronavirus’s continued impact in the workplace, this post reviews the CDC’s newly issued guidelines for businesses, and dives deeper into how employers can lawfully navigate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), sick time laws, and other leave laws, while maintaining the safety of their workforce.
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NLRB Announces Final Joint Employer Rule

February 26, 2020 | Blog | By Morgan G. Tanafon

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The Impact of the SECURE Act on Tax Qualified Retirement Plans

February 10, 2020 | Blog | By Alden Bianchi

On December 20, President Trump signed into law the “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019,” known and referred to colloquially as the “SECURE Act.” The law’s stated purpose, among other things, is to increase the coverage of American workers in employer-sponsored savings arrangements. The new law generally affects retirement plans and programs that include employer-sponsored and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), among others. In this recently published issue of the Bloomberg Tax, Tax Management Memorandum, we explore the impact of the new law on employer-sponsored plans.
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Judge Kimberly Mueller of the District Court for the Eastern District of California today granted Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction against AB 51. Judge Mueller indicated in her order that she would issue a detailed ruling explaining her decision at a later date, but for now, the State of California is prohibited from enforcing California’s ban on the arbitration of employment claims. Stay tuned for a more detailed analysis following Judge Mueller’s upcoming written decision.
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The recent outbreak of the Coronavirus in Wuhan, China, which has spread to the United States with new cases being reported every day, has the global community on high alert. While employers would be wise to leave the containment and treatment of the virus to medical experts, disease outbreaks present a unique set of employment law issues for many businesses, especially for those that require international travel as an essential job function for their employees.  This post addresses some of the employment issues raised by the Coronavirus outbreak.  (Note: we recognize events on the ground are fluid, and therefore will update this post as necessary.)
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Under the new Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Law, M.G.L c. 175M (“MAPFML”), employees and other covered individuals in the Commonwealth will be entitled to a generous set of new paid family and medical leave benefits and rights beginning January 1, 2021. While no benefits are available under the MAPFML until 2021, the Commonwealth is requiring employers to file quarterly employment and wage detail reports and make quarterly contributions to fund MAPFML benefits far in advance of 2021. More specifically, the first quarterly reports and contributions to the Commonwealth’s MAPFML fund (i.e. to cover the period from October 1 to December 31, 2019) must be remitted on or before January 31, 2020. In light of this approaching deadline, the following are the key steps relating to these quarterly reporting and contribution requirements.
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California’s Ban on Mandatory Employment Arbitration Stayed for Now

January 10, 2020 | Blog | By Jennifer Rubin, Audrey Nguyen

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After being in effect for a year, California’s groundbreaking gender parity law for public company boards, while under legal attack, has not (yet) been enjoined in a similar manner to other recent creative California regulatory initiatives (notably the law banning independent contractors in the state, part of which have now been enjoined by various courts, as well as California’s attempt to ban arbitration provisions, which has now been enjoined in its entirety). Given that the gender parity law has survived to date, a brief review of its status is in order.
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California AB 5’s Impact on Board Directors and Advisory Members

December 20, 2019 | Blog | By Jennifer Rubin, Audrey Nguyen

AB 5’s elimination of independent contracting as we know it in California will have significant legal consequences for businesses doing business in California. While we believe board directors will escape its reach, businesses with advisory boards should proceed with caution. Effective January 1, 2020, AB 5 will presume that every California worker is an employee unless the hiring entity establishes that the worker meets the three criteria of the so-called “ABC” test, or the worker satisfies one of the law’s exemptions.
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AB 5 - California’s New Independent Contractor Law

December 12, 2019 | Video | By Jennifer Rubin

Jen Rubin discusses what employers need to know about AB 5, California’s new law that goes into effect on January 1, 2020 and effectively bans nearly all categories of independent contractors in California, not just gig economy workers.
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