Coronavirus

Since COVID-19 vaccinations have received emergency use approval (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are being distributed in the United States, employers should evaluate whether they will implement mandatory vaccine policies in their workplaces and the legal and regulatory implications of doing so. Employers should look at the risks associated with a mandatory policy versus those associated with a voluntary policy, and how these competing risks may affect their business practices. If employers decide to make the vaccine mandatory, they will need to understand employees’ refusal rights, how refusal impacts a mandatory policy, and whether termination of…
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA) includes several provisions affecting qualified retirement plans. A relaxation of the partial plan termination rules should provide relief to plans which see unusual turnover in the number of active participants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other provisions, including an amendment of the CARES Act which allows coronavirus related distributions to be made from money purchase pension plans, may provide retroactive relief to plan sponsors. Finally, a series of disaster relief provisions is intended to assist participants affected by certain non-COVID disasters in the past year. Although plan sponsors may wish to adopt some of…
Businesses can now deduct expenses paid for with the proceeds of a forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. The IRS, in Revenue Ruling 2021-2 issued today, reversed its original position that prohibited businesses with PPP loans from “double-dipping” by paying expenses with a forgivable loan, then writing off those expenses. Congress, in the latest COVID-19 relief bill, as we explained further here, explicitly stated that such expenses were deductible, forcing the IRS to reverse course. This ruling is sure to provide a significant tax benefit and relief for many small business owners who had availed themselves of the PPP…
Previous posts detailed the length of time and number of cases in the unemployment backlog in part 1, some of the mistakes by the Department that allow cases to be re-opened in part 2, a place for stories and advice about how to find assistance in part 3, and how most claims in Wisconsin — and unlike in other states — are being denied and thereby creating a ginormous backlog in hearings. The Department announced at the end of 2020 that the claims backlog had been cleared and that Transition Secretary Pechacek was now Secretary-Designee for
Although the share of people who are willing to get the COVID19 vaccine has increased since Fall 2020, from about 64% in September 2020 to 71% in December 2020, about nine percent of the holdouts say they will only get the vaccine if required for work, school or other activities. See Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor:  December 2020. The percentages will continue to shift as the COVID19 vaccine rolls out through 2021. But many employers will likely have employees who will refuse the vaccine unless forced to get it. It is unclear whether governments will mandate the…
On Sunday, December 27, President Trump signed into law a general government funding and appropriations bill that included several Coronavirus Response and Relief provisions. The COVID-19 provisions address continued unemployment benefits, provide funding for schools and day cares to operate safely, extend the CDC eviction moratorium, fund another round of the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP), and modify some of the rules regarding PPP forgiveness. Stimulus Payments Individuals making less than $75,000 per year, based on their 2019 tax return, will receive $600. Just as with the previous stimulus payment, the benefit decreases $5 for every $100 earned over the $75,000.…
On December 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed the much-anticipated Coronavirus relief bill, formally titled the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the Act), into law. In addition to COVID-19 relief measures, the Act includes significant amendments to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Beginning April 1, 2020, the FFCRA required employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide two types of paid leave to qualified employees: Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Expanded Family and Medical Leave (EFMLA). Employers could claim a tax credit against the employer portion of Social Security taxes for up to 100% of EPSL and EFMLA…
On Sunday, December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the legislation providing government funding and a long-anticipated coronavirus relief package (the “Bill”). The wide-sweeping Bill contains a number of key provisions that will impact both public and private sector employment in 2021. Of particular significance to employers is that: The Bill does not extend the mandates of the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”) or the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) enacted under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). The Bill allows tax credits to employers for “FFCRA like” paid leave benefits paid to employees through March…
Dec. 28, 2020 – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has outlined three tiers of population groups that should be within Phase 1 of the COVID-19 rollout, and lawyers and judges should be in the third tier, according to recent guidance from the CDC. In early December, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities be offered COVID-19 vaccines first, in Phase 1a of the vaccination program. Phase 1b, the second recommended group for prioritization, includes those aged 75 years and older and “front-line essential workers (non-health care workers).”…
The approval of two—and potentially more—COVID-19 vaccines by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been met by employers with optimism that their safe-workplace woes related to COVID-19 are at long-last coming to an end. Although there is cause for hope, employers should beware of the legal pitfalls of mandating a vaccination program among its workforce. Can We Mandate the Vaccine? As the impending likelihood that a COVID-19 vaccine will soon become available to essential workers and the general public, many employers are considering implementing a mandatory vaccination program for employees. For some employers, a mandatory vaccination program may…
Today the EEOC updated its guidance surrounding COVID-19 and vaccinations in the publication titled “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.” In its most recent update, the EEOC has added questions and answers to help employers navigate the new COVID-19 vaccine. The questions are added as a new Section K. Vaccinations, and include numbers K.1 – K.9.  The EEOC clarifies that while employers may be able to require a vaccine (depending upon the workplace and whether the employer can establish a safety threat) they must remember to engage in the interactive…
With the news that COVID-19 vaccines will soon be available in Wisconsin, employers are beginning to question whether they can—or should—require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Although employers can mandate the COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment, as discussed below, this may not be the best choice for most employers. When determining whether to implement a mandatory vaccination, employers should assess the exposure risk inherent in the workplace. For example, is it a high risk workplace, such as a hospital or nursing home? Second, employers should consider the effect of a mandatory vaccination program on workplace morale. Recent…
On November 18, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Rev. Rul. 2020-27 regarding the ability of businesses that received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to deduct expenses. The PPP was created in April of 2020 to provide financial support to small businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new guidance states that if a business’s PPP loan is forgiven, any otherwise deductible expenses that were paid using the loan, such as payroll or rent, are not deductible for income tax purposes. Usually, these types of expenses are deductible when paid with revenue generated directly from the business. However, the IRS…
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued revised guidance with options for reducing the length of quarantine for individuals who are asymptomatic, but have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. While the CDC still acknowledges that the 14-day quarantine period provides the greatest protection from spreading the virus, they also recognize that a full 14-day quarantine period can be a burden for employers and employees alike. The CDC’s new guidance applies only to individuals who have been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive person, but are not showing symptoms. The new…
On December 2, the CDC updated its guidance for quarantining after exposure to COVID-19. The CDC still recommends a 14-day quarantine as the safest option, however, it has provided two acceptable alternatives to shorten the quarantine period depending on local circumstances and resources. Quarantine can end after 10 days without testing if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring. Quarantine can end after seven days if the individual obtains a negative diagnostic COVID-19 test result within 48 hours of day seven, and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring. Under both alternatives a person can discontinue quarantine only…
In recent weeks, the prospect of an approved, widely available COVID-19 vaccine has become much more tangible as several pharmaceutical companies have presented promising preliminary data regarding the effectiveness of their vaccine trials. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received two applications for emergency use authorization within the last month with meetings scheduled to begin this week. On December 2, 2020, Britain authorized a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, making it the first western nation to do so.1 In light of these developments, the CDC has indicated the possibility of one or more COVID-19 vaccines becoming available for public…