Financial

RETIREMENT PLAN DEVELOPMENTS “SECURE 2.0” Approved by House Ways and Means Committee Unanimously On May 5, 2021, the House Ways and Means Committee approved the Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2021 by a unanimous vote. This bill contains multiple key provisions that would enable employees and retirees to save more money at the conclusion of their careers, as well as increase coverage for retirement plans. Some of these key provisions are as follows: 401(k) plans adopted after the date of enactment must default participants into the plan at a contribution rate of at least 3 percent of pay, increasing by 1…
GENERAL DEVELOPMENTS DOL Cybersecurity Guidance Benefit plans have been subject to only a limited regulatory and statutory scheme with respect to data privacy and cybersecurity. Most of the regulatory scheme is targeted towards health plans with respect to protected health information under HIPAA and HITECH. In response to a March 15, 2021, Government Accountability Office report recommending that the Secretary of Labor formally state whether cybersecurity for private sector employer-sponsored defined contribution retirement plans is a plan fiduciary responsibility under ERISA, the DOL has issued non-binding cybersecurity guidance for plan sponsors, providers and plan participants. The guidance consists of suggestions…
Many employers use a “tip pool,” which is a system of collecting all tips earned by workers and redistributing them to a pool of workers. Employers using tip pools have had to take care not to include “non-tipped” workers, including back-of-house staff like cooks and dishwashers, when tip pooling as this violated wage and hour law. Now, there are new and potential changes to the tip-pool rules. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) finalized a new rule that would have offered employers more flexibility in who could be included in the tip pool, and would have…
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed into law on March 11, 2021, established the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). The RRF earmarks $28.6 billion in grants to restaurants, bars, breweries, wineries, distilleries, caterers, food trucks and similar businesses. The Small Business Administration (SBA) will administer the RRF and provide the grants, which are intended to cover a business’s total pandemic-related revenue losses. Timing Be ready to act fast: The SBA will generally award grants to eligible entities in the order that applications are received. Like the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), there is expected to be…
The $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) is expected to begin accepting applications soon. The Small Business Administration (SBA) will administer the RRF and provide the grants, which are intended to cover a business’s total pandemic-related revenue losses. Please read our most recent summary for full details about the RRF. Eligible restaurants, bars, breweries, wineries, distilleries and other eligible types of businesses should prepare to file once the program launches. The fund is expected to be exhausted quickly. For the first 21 days of the RRF, the SBA will only process and fund applications where the applicant is a small business that is…
Over the last couple of months, we have seen a flurry of guidance impacting employee benefit plans. This issue of Benefits Counselor highlights key legal developments for employers and plan sponsors. GENERAL DEVELOPMENTS President Biden Signs American Rescue Plan Act On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law the latest COVID‑19 stimulus package, titled the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). In addition to providing a third round of stimulus checks for individuals, ARPA provides significant funding relief for single employer and multiemployer pension plans, aims to generate additional tax revenue through elimination of certain deductions for executive compensation benefits and provides additional…
We have represented many shopping centers, office parks and hotels. In recent times, many have missed payments because of the pandemic. While courts are usually sympathetic to borrowers who are struggling because of low occupancy or tenants that won’t pay, defending a monetary default case is tough. Often, we have better luck negotiating a solution. In this post, we look at a property owner……
Commercial lease disputes come in many different forms. Disputes may relate to payment issues, evictions, CAM calculations, property conditions, surrender obligations, maintenance and repairs, COVID-19 issues, noncompetition, purchase options, hours of operation, bankruptcy and a host of other issues. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. So what happens if you find yourself in a commercial lease dispute? The correct answer is rarely to jump headfirst into litigation. Disputes can often be resolved by exchanging correspondence that outlines each party’s respective legal and factual positions. This correspondence may involve a formal notice of default. In many instances, one party may realize it failed to…
As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available in the United States, there is rapidly changing guidance at the state and federal levels. Here are a few key issues Wisconsin employers should be aware of this spring related to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 Vaccinations Beginning April 5, 2021, all individuals in the state of Wisconsin who are 16 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. As of the publication of this alert, Wisconsin had administered nearly 3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, bringing the percentage of Wisconsin residents who have received the vaccine to approximately 31 percent.…
In recent years, there has been growing concern, and regulation, of different chemicals commonly used with many consumer and industrial products sold in the U.S. marketplace. One such group of chemicals gaining increasing scrutiny among federal and state regulators are per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS chemicals includes more than 4,000 different chemical compounds and are widely used in everyday products, including stain and water resistant fabrics and carpeting, cleaning products, cookware, paints and fire extinguishing foams. PFAS substances do not easily break down in the environment and have been linked to a number of health problems including cancer, thyroid…
A Jefferson County Judge granted a Temporary Restraining Order to stop the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from sampling for PFAS at industrial facilities, which the agency initially planned to begin as early as this week. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), the state’s chamber of commerce, is taking legal action in an attempt to stop the DNR’s proposed PFAS sampling program at specific facilities selected by the agency. WMC argues that the DNR does not have authority to test for substances that it does not currently regulate, and that the program does not consider background levels, and could, therefore,…
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law the next wave of COVID-19 relief, titled the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). While ARPA’s $1.9 trillion in financial stimulus has taken the spotlight, the law also includes several changes that will impact retirement plans, most notably defined benefit pension plans. Funding Shortfall Amortization Extension ARPA permanently extends the shortfall amortization period from seven to 15 years. Additionally, ARPA permits plans to reamortize any previous funding shortfalls over the new 15-year window, which allows plan sponsors to decrease their near-term plan contributions. These changes are effective for the 2022…
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently released a list of businesses targeted for PFAS testing. The DNR will sample water effluent at several facilities beginning in April. The list includes 39 industrial facilities, encompassing many of Wisconsin’s largest manufacturers and food producers. PFAS compounds are ubiquitous and likely to exist at low levels on nearly any property with a history of industrial or commercial use. Unlike previous DNR PFAS initiatives, the testing is not voluntary. The DNR is requiring companies to permit sampling and testing for more than 30 PFAS compounds despite the fact that no enforcement standards…
organ Sued Over Its Involvement in the Sale of Good Technology Inc. Good Technology Inc is a mobile security provider that is today owned by BlackBerry Limited. How BlackBerry acquired the company and the price they paid is at the heart of the controversy. Good Technology works behind the scenes to manage and secure data and mobile devices. It also works with many app providers….…
On January 21, 2021, President Biden ordered the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to consider whether emergency temporary standards on COVID-19 were necessary and, if so, to issue those standards by March 15, 2021. Days before that deadline, OSHA announced the implementation of a national emphasis program (NEP) focused on increasing OSHA’s enforcement efforts related to COVID-19. OSHA’s Direction on the NEP states that the enforcement efforts will place emphasis on: (1) hazardous conditions that put the largest number of workers at risk; and (2) employers that engage in retaliatory actions against employees who report potential violations of OSHA…
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed into law on March 11, 2021, establishes the “Restaurant Revitalization Fund” (RRF). The RRF earmarks $28.6 billion in grants to restaurants, breweries, bars, caterers and food trucks. The Small Business Administration (SBA) will administer the RRF and provide the grants, which are intended to cover a business’s total pandemic-related revenue losses. Timing Be ready to act fast: The SBA will award grants to eligible entities in the order that applications are received. Like the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), there is expected to be a stampede of applicants when…