COVID-19 Drives Surge in Employment Practices Claims

| posted in Uncategorized

Employers are being hit with a wave of COVID-19-related employment lawsuits, which is starting to have an effect on employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) rates and coverages. A tally by the law firm of Fisher Phillips found that as of August 2021 there had been 2,950 COVID-19-related employment lawsuits filed in the U.S. Most of the complaints concern remote work arrangements, workplace safety and discrimination. Lawyers predict a new wave building as employers get pushback from some employees about their vaccine policies and continuing safety measures. The most common COVID-19-related complaints are: Remote work and leave issues (28% of total)…
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COBRA Subsidies Ending; Employers Must Send Out Notices

| posted in Newsletter

The 100% COBRA health insurance subsidies for workers who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic are about to expire on Sept. 30, and that means employers who have former staff receiving those subsidies must notify them of their expiration. If you have former employees who are still on COBRA benefits and receiving the subsidy that was required by the American Rescue Plan Act, you will need to send them a timely notice that the 100% subsidy will end at the end of September and that they will have to start paying premiums if they wish to continue coverage after…
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EEOC Issues New Guidance on Vaccinating Employees

| posted in Newsletter

As more Americans get inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine, employers are wondering where they stand legally on requiring workers to get vaccinated, asking them whether they have been vaccinated and providing incentives for employees to get inoculated. On May 28, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its COVID-19 vaccination guidance to help employers navigate this risk-fraught territory. The following are the highlights: Employers may require vaccinations The EEOC restated its earlier guidance that employers can require staff who enter their worksites to be vaccinated, as long as they can provide reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities or who hold sincere religious beliefs…
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Workers’ Comp COVID-19 Payroll Reporting Rules Sunsetting

| posted in Blog

The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau has announced that two temporary payroll reporting rules to reflect changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders will sunset. The move comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s June 9 executive order which revoked the statewide stay-at-home order that had been in place since March 19, 2020. You may recall that after the stay-at-home order took effect, the Rating Bureau issued new rules for classifying staff who were suddenly working remotely, as well as payroll reporting for staff who were at home but not working. The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) rules that are set…
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Cal/OSHA Relaxes COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard

| posted in Blog

CAL/OSHA last November issued COVID-19 emergency temporary standards, and now the agency has revised those standards to reflect the reduced risk of infection as more people get vaccinated. The revisions provide respite to many businesses ahead of the planned reopening of the state on June 15. Here are the more significant changes in the rules: Exemptions for the vaccinated The revised rules provide significant exemptions to COVID-19 prevention rules for workers who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, as well as for workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days and have recovered or are…
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Pandemic Brings Voluntary Benefits to Fore

| posted in Blog

One major repercussion of the COVID-19 pandemic is that employees are embracing the voluntary benefits their employers are offering them, but they’d like to see more choices and issues such as mental health and voluntary benefits have risen to the fore. The Hartford’s “2021 Future of Benefits Study” found that before the pandemic, benefits were mainly viewed as a means of attracting and retaining talent. But the pandemic changed all that due to the stress of having our work and personal lives upended, as well as the widespread suffering and grief that the coronavirus has caused. The most significant shift…
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Group Health Plans Must Cover COVID-19 Testing for Asymptomatic People

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced in late February that private group health plans cannot deny coverage or impose cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing, regardless of whether or not the patient is experiencing symptoms or has been exposed to someone with the disease. The CMS said it had issued the new guidance to make it easier for people to get tested with no out-of-pocket costs if they are planning to visit family members or take a flight, for example. Up until now, some health plans have not covered testing if a person is not experiencing symptoms or has not…
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IRS Lets Employers Give Workers a Break on FSA Contributions, Health Plan Rules

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

A number of changes in recent months have given employees extra benefits and flexibility when it comes to utilizing Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). The newly signed American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 raised FSA contribution limits and the COVID relief bill signed in late 2020 gave employees additional flexibility in the use of funds and making election changes. The IRS recently released additional guidance, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, that allows employees to make changes to their health plans outside of the traditional open enrollment period. The COVID relief bill signed into law at…
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Insurers Expected COVID-19 Workers’ Comp Surge; It Never Came

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

The number of COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims submit to carriers has not been as widespread as insurers and ratings agencies around the country had predicted when the pandemic first started in early 2020. On top of that, a large chunk of COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims filed by workers nationwide have been rejected, with insurers often citing lack of proof that the illness was contracted in the workplace. These two factors have lead to a much lower surge of claim payouts than expected. The insurance industry was bracing for a deluge of workers’ comp claims when the seriousness of the pandemic…
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Employment-Related Lawsuits Explode during Pandemic

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow, so does the number of employment-related lawsuits filed by workers across the country against their employers. The pandemic laid the groundwork for new local, state and federal laws and regulations governing a number of workplace issues like workplace safety, family and medical leave and remote work. And it created new challenges for employers who were forced to close operations, lay off and furlough workers and organize new work arrangements. Most common employment-related lawsuits The surge resulted in a record number of COVID-19-related class-action lawsuits, the majority of them concerning disputes over:…
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