COVID-19 Small Business Resource Center

General

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the World Health Organization have created dedicated webpages with information on COVID-19 for employers.

In addition, state and local health officials are developing guidelines and resources on the illness. Check your state and local Department of Health and Department of Labor websites for additional information.

A: Employers should continue to do everything they can to limit exposure, such as:

  • Facilitate working remotely where possible.
  • Conduct virtual meetings instead of in-person meetings.
  • Limit or prohibit visitors to the workplace.
  • Practice social distancing in the workplace (staying at least 6 feet away from others).
  • Encourage employees to avoid gathering in breakrooms and larger groups.

If your employees are required to report to work, employers can help employees practice healthy habits by providing tissues, no-touch trash cans, hand soap and sanitizer, and disposable towels. Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs.

Health officials recommend reminding employees of the importance of:

  • Washing hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cleaning things that are frequently touched (like doorknobs and countertops) with household cleaning spray or wipes.
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of the elbow.
  • Staying home when feeling sick.

A: Yes. Employers may ask employees to notify them if they've been in contact with someone who has COVID-19. Also, at this time, the CDC is recommending that people who are close to someone with COVID-19, and develop symptoms of the virus, call their healthcare provider for guidance and self-quarantine for 14 days. Employees should be advising their employer of that as well.

A: Several states and local jurisdictions have ordered businesses to close except for essential businesses and/or personnel. Employers should comply with such orders. In addition, numerous companies have ordered employees to work from home as long as they are able. Even in the absence of an order to close, employees who refuse to report to work may have protections from adverse action. For example, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employees may have the right to refuse to work if all of the following conditions are met:

  • Where possible, they have asked the employer to eliminate the danger, and the employer failed to do so;
  • They genuinely believe that an imminent danger exists;
  • A reasonable person would agree that there is a real danger of death or serious injury; and
  • There isn't enough time, due to the urgency of the hazard, to get it corrected through regular enforcement channels, such as requesting an OSHA inspection.

Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which grants employees the right to act together to improve wages and working conditions, may also come into play in this situation.

Note: If an employee has an underlying condition that would qualify as a disability, they may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act and/or similar state laws. Paid or unpaid leave may be considered a reasonable accommodation.

A: The CDC advises against employers requiring fitness-for-duty certifications for employees to return to work. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care and can follow CDC recommendations to determine when to discontinue home isolation and return to work. Under the CDC's guidelines, employees with COVID-19 who have stayed home can stop home isolation and return to work when they have met one of the sets of criteria found here.

Nevertheless, federal law currently does allow employers to require fitness-for-duty certifications for employees to return to work, provided they are announced in advance and applied consistently. As a practical matter, though, doctors and other healthcare professionals may be too busy to provide fitness-for-duty documentation. Therefore, new approaches may be necessary, such as reliance on local clinics to provide a form, a stamp, or an e-mail to certify that an individual can return to work.

However, some states and local jurisdictions have issued restrictions on seeking fitness-for-duty certification from healthcare providers or issued similar guidance to the CDC's.

A: If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform other employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality (that is, don't reveal who has the illness). As a precautionary measure, employers should consider asking all employees who worked closely with that employee to self-quarantine for a 14-day period of time to better ensure that the infection does not spread. In addition, have a cleaning company complete a deep cleaning of your workspace. Employers should also immediately contact local health officials for further guidance.

Note: Employers should treat all information about an employee's illness as a confidential medical record and keep it separate from the employee's personnel file.

A: Typically, employers wouldn't be required to allow employees to work from home, but some state and local COVID-19 orders may require it. For example, in July, Michigan's governor issued an executive order that requires that any work that is capable of being performed remotely be performed remotely. Even if allowing telework isn't required, it's something employers should consider implementing to help prevent the spread of the illness.

Note: Telecommuting may be considered a reasonable accommodation if a worker's condition qualifies as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act and/or similar state laws.

A: Some state and local sick leave laws have limitations on when employers can ask for documentation. For example, several laws require that an employee be absent for more than three consecutive days before an employer can ask for documentation. However, in its interim guidance, the CDC has advised that employers should not require a healthcare provider's note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work. Healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and unable to provide documentation in a timely fashion.

A: Federal, state and local laws prohibit employers from discriminating against individuals because of disability (and certain other characteristics). Under these laws, employers must take steps to prevent discrimination and harassment against individuals who are disabled or perceived as disabled, including those who are exhibiting symptoms that suggest that they have contracted COVID-19. An employee who contracts COVID-19 may be entitled to reasonable accommodation and protection under the ADA if the employee's reaction to COVID-19 is severe or if it complicates or exacerbates one or more of an employee's other health condition(s)/disabilities. Employers should remind employees of their anti-harassment and discrimination policies and be sure to take all complaints seriously.

Note: Information about an employee's medical history and leave details must be kept confidential.

A: Federal, state and local laws prohibit employers from harassing and discriminating against individuals because of race, national origin, and certain other protected characteristics. Instances of harassment and discrimination tend to increase around situations like COVID-19. Therefore, employers should remind employees of their anti-harassment and discrimination policies. Take all complaints seriously and launch a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation into any complaint.

Travel

A: Yes, as long as employers act consistently based on travel activities and do not say or do anything to violate the ADA or other federal, state or local nondiscrimination laws.

A: Given the numerous travel bans in place due to COVID-19, employers should first advise employees to check the CDC's Traveler's Health Notices for the latest guidance and on where travel is restricted.

If an employee has traveled or intends to travel, absent a claim that the employee has a recognized privacy interest in their travel, you may ask about their travel plans and take steps to reduce workplace exposure. If you learn that an employee has traveled, remain alert for fever, cough, or difficulty breathing and remind employees to avoid the workplace if they do develop any of these symptoms.

Keep in mind as well that, generally, some states prohibit employers from taking adverse action against an employee for engaging in lawful off-duty conduct, such as travelling to another country or state where travel is allowed. The time off may also be protected under federal, state, and local laws entitling employees to job-protected leave. For instance, an employee taking time off to take care of a family member with a serious health condition may be protected under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, similar state laws, and/or state and local paid sick leave laws.

A: Yes, absent a claim that an employee has a recognized privacy interest in their travel activities. Employers should take steps to reduce any reasonable expectation of privacy that employees might have in those activities.

A: Yes, employers may exclude workers from the workplace if they travel to areas considered high risk and self-quarantine is recommended or required, as long as they act consistently based on travel activities and avoid saying or doing anything to violate the ADA or other federal, state, or local nondiscrimination laws. Employers should allow these employees to telework for the 14 days when possible. Depending on the circumstances, employees who are unable to telework may be entitled to paid leave under federal, state, and/or local laws. In the absence of a requirement to provide paid leave, employers should allow employees to use other employer-provided leave during the absence.

A: Employers should review state and local orders, actions, and guidelines regarding employees who travel to high-risk locations. These typically can be found on the webpages of state or local governments and/or health agencies. Some of these jurisdictions even have hotlines employers can call with questions. Employers should determine their rights and obligations as well as consider the risks of allowing employees into the workplace without self-quarantining, consulting legal counsel if applicable.

Pay

A: Employers should check applicable policies, collective bargaining agreements, and federal, state, and local laws to determine if pay is required.

For example, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (enacted on March 18, 2020) requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid sick leave to all employees who are unable to work (or telework) because of the following reasons:

  • The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or is caring for an individual who is subject to such an order.
  • The employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19 or is caring for an individual who has been advised to self-quarantine.
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • The employee is caring for their child due to their school or place of care being closed, or their childcare provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.
  • The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

Full-time employees are entitled to take up to 80 hours paid sick leave. Part-time employees are eligible for a number of hours equal to the average hours worked over a two-week period.

The law goes into effect on April 1, 2020 and will expire on December 31, 2020. State and local paid leave laws may also require pay, and some jurisdictions are enacting emergency rules to require paid leave in such situations.

A: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (enacted on March 18, 2020) amends the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to temporarily require employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to care for their child under 18 years of age if their school or place of care has been closed, or their childcare provider is unavailable, due to a public health emergency. To be eligible for this leave, an employee must:

  • Work for an employer with fewer than 500 employees.
  • Have worked for the employer for at least 30 calendar days prior to the leave.

The first 10 days of the leave may be unpaid, but the employee may elect to substitute any accrued paid leave during this period. Employees are entitled to paid leave after the first 10 days at two-thirds the employee's regular rate of pay, for the number of hours the employee would otherwise be scheduled to work. Paid leave is subject to a limit of $200 per day, and up to a total amount of $10,000. The law goes into effect on April 1, 2020 and will expire on December 31, 2020.

Among the states and local jurisdictions that require employers to provide paid sick leave, many cover absences related to school closures that are ordered by health officials. Check your state and local laws for details. Some jurisdictions are enacting emergency rules that would require such leave, so monitor the situation closely.

A: Some states expressly require employers to reimburse employees for any reasonable business expenses they incur, such as Internet access from a home office. Absent such a requirement, expense reimbursement may be necessary to satisfy the FLSA minimum wage and overtime requirements for non-exempt employees. In most cases, under the FLSA, any work-related expense incurred by an employee that would bring their pay below the minimum wage (or cut into overtime pay) must be reimbursed.

Regardless of your requirements, it's a best practice to reimburse all employees for any reasonable business expenses. Where the expense may be used for work and personal use (such as having an Internet connection), consider a system to help employees monitor and record how much of the cost is related to conducting business activities, and reimburse employees at least that amount.

Make sure you also have policies and controls in place to ensure that employees use a secure connection to the Internet, protect company and client data, and comply with privacy laws when working remotely.

A: Implement an effective process for recording work hours of all employees, such as an electronic timekeeping system that workers can access via a computer or mobile device. Also, develop policies that require employees to record all hours worked and expressly prohibit off-the-clock work. To help prevent unauthorized overtime, consider a policy that requires employees to obtain permission before working overtime. While employers may discipline employees for violating such a policy, they may never withhold overtime pay.

A: You can encourage employees to sign up for direct deposit by noting its convenience and benefits and that workplace distribution isn't available due to social distancing guidelines and/or federal, state, or local orders. For employees who don't sign up for direct deposit, many employers are mailing their paycheck to them. Before doing so, verify you have the employee's correct address.

A: In a majority of states, direct deposit is generally permitted only if the employee voluntarily authorizes it. Typically, the employee's consent must be in writing. In the absence of a restriction, employers should evaluate the pros and cons of requiring direct deposit. Additionally, consider whether a mandatory direct deposit policy would disproportionately exclude members of a protected class, and if so, offer other options for the receipt of wages.

A: Most states require employers to provide a wage statement to employees each pay period, regardless of whether wages are paid by paper check or electronically. States that permit electronic wage statements may have certain rules that employers must follow, such as obtaining the employee's consent. Check your state law for details.

Note: Run Powered by ADP® clients with Paperless Payroll can give employees who sign up for direct deposit access to their pay statements electronically using Employee Access or the ADP Mobile Solutions application.

A: Direct deposit is included in all RUN Powered by ADP® payroll bundles. Pricing is the same regardless of whether the employee elects a paper check or direct deposit.

Business Closures

A: Several laws may govern what type and how much notice employers need to give their employees if they are forced to close temporarily. For example, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act helps ensure advance notice in cases of qualified plant closings and mass layoffs. In addition, several states have mini-WARN laws, some of which require more notice and/or cover a wider array of closures and/or apply to smaller businesses. Due to COVID-19, states may suspend or alter these requirements. For example, on March 17, 2020, California’s Governor signed an Executive Order relieving California employers of the 60 day notice requirement while California is in a state of emergency. However, employers still must provide notice as soon as practical and have to meet additional requirements as well. Because the situation with COVID-19 is so fluid, employers are encouraged to check with counsel to make sure they are following the most current guidance on notice requirements.

Additionally, some states require advance notice of any reduction in pay. Absent a specific notice requirement, employers should provide as much notice as possible.

Note: Some states and local jurisdictions have enacted predictive scheduling laws. These laws generally require employers to follow certain scheduling practices, including providing a certain amount of advance notice before making changes to employees' schedules. Be sure to check to see if you are subject to such a law. Some jurisdictions, including Oregon, are providing guidance on these laws in light of COVID-19.

A: Non-exempt employees (those entitled to minimum wage and overtime) are paid only for "hours worked." Therefore, if non-exempt employees miss an entire day's work because you're closed and you didn't require them to report to work, you're generally under no obligation to pay them, unless you've promised otherwise.

However, if they do report to work, you must pay these employees for any time they actually worked and/or were required to stay at work while your company made a decision to close. Note that some state laws require employers to pay employees for a minimum number of hours when they report to work but are sent home before the end of their scheduled shift. Check your applicable law for rules related to paying employees when they are required to report to work but are sent home early.

Employees who are classified as exempt from minimum wage and overtime must generally receive their full salary in any workweek in which they perform work, regardless of the number of hours worked. However, if they perform no work in a workweek, the employer isn't required to pay them.

Example 1: An exempt employee's workweek is from Sunday to Monday. The state orders their employer to close from Tuesday March 17, 2020 through Sunday March 29, 2020. However, the employee works on Monday, March 16. Since the employee worked part of the workweek, they're entitled to their full salary for the week of March 15, 2020. However, if the employee performs no work in the workweek of March 22, 2020, no pay is required for the March 22nd week.

Example 2: The same facts as Example 1 except that during the workweek of March 22, 2020, the employee performs about an hour of work from home one day. This employee would be entitled to their full salary for both the workweek of March 15 and the workweek of March 22.

Note: In some situations, employees may be entitled to paid leave during a closure (see below).

A: Several state and local paid sick leave laws require employers to allow employees to use their leave when a business is closed by a public health official due to a health emergency. Since the pandemic began, some of these jurisdictions have provided guidance clarifying these rules as they apply to COVID-19. Check your state and local laws for details. Even if your jurisdiction doesn't currently require paid leave in the event of a temporary closure, some states and local jurisdictions are enacting emergency rules that require it, so monitor the situation closely. In the absence of a state or local requirement, many employers are allowing employees to use paid leave. Make sure your policy complies with applicable laws and is clearly communicated to employees.

A: Unless certain conditions are met (including the President declaring a "major disaster"), donated leave for a temporary closure would be taxable to both the donor and the recipient. President Trump has declared the coronavirus a major disaster in certain states. In these jurisdictions, any leave-donation program must meet the requirements outlined in IRS Notice 2006-59 for the donor to avoid taxes on the donated leave. Additional states may be declared in the future, so check the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website before applying voluntary donations.

Beyond the tax implications, if the paid leave in question is required under state and/or local law, employers should ensure that the law allows employees to donate their leave to fellow employees.

Note: Leave-donation programs for medical emergencies are subject to different IRS rules. See IRS Rev. Rul. 90-29, 1990-1 C.B. 11 for details.

A: Final pay rules differ from state to state, so check the law in the state where your employees work. Generally, though, short-term furloughs with a definite return date (that is clearly communicated to employees) wouldn't trigger final pay requirements. Thus, any pay owed to the employee would be due on their next regular payday. However, some states may have stricter rules. For example, in California, a furlough longer than a pay period should be considered a layoff, barring any guidance from the state indicating otherwise. If it is a layoff (i.e. no work for longer than a pay period) all wages due and any accrued but unused vacation and PTO must be paid out immediately.

A: The federal government, many states, and some local jurisdictions have loan and other programs that provide assistance to impacted businesses. See the Small Business Loans and CARES Act sections of our Resource Center for more information.

A: Many states have adopted shared-work programs to provide employers with an alternative to layoffs. Under these programs, the employer temporarily reduces the hours of a group of employees, and the affected employees collect partial unemployment benefits. Another option is offering unpaid time off to employees in the form of a furlough.

Additionally, the federal government, many states, and some local jurisdictions have loan and other programs that provide assistance to impacted businesses. See the Small Business Loans and CARES Act sections of our Resource Center for more information.

A: No. Compliance posters will not be delivered to businesses located in a state with a lockdown. Once the lockdown has been lifted, all posters will be shipped as normal.

In the meantime, you can download digital versions of your posters from our online Labor Law Poster Portal: www.runlaborlawposter.com.

A: The federal WARN Act generally requires employers to provide advance notice of mass layoffs. The DOL advises that employers in this situation review the "unforeseeable business circumstances" exception to the 60-day notice requirement (see § 3(b)(2)(A), and the WARN regulations at 20 CFR 639.9). The "unforeseeable business circumstances" exception applies to plant closings and mass layoffs caused by business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable at the time that 60-day notice would have been required. Employers should also check applicable state WARN laws.

Unemployment Benefits

Though individual state law dictates an employee's eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits, the federal government, through guidance (Unemployment Insurance Program Letter 10-20) and legislation (Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization and Access Act 0f 2020), is making an effort to provide states with greater flexibility to make as many individuals affected by COVID-19 as eligible as possible.

A: Depending on the state, the length of the closure, and the employee's work history, employees who are prevented from coming to work because their employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19 may be eligible for unemployment benefits. States have issued guidance addressing this issue and many are suspending waiting periods for such benefits. Check your state law, communicate with employees regarding their eligibility for unemployment benefits, and provide any required notice and information accordingly.

A: In general, the more employees use unemployment benefits, the higher the employer's rate will be. However, several states have suspended rules that would require an employer's account to be charged if employees are filing unemployment claims for certain reasons related to COVID-19. In such cases, an employer's unemployment insurance rate wouldn't increase. Check your state unemployment agency for details.

A: Some states are allowing employees to collect unemployment benefits in such situations. Check your state unemployment agency for details.

A: Generally, an employee who is receiving paid sick leave or paid family leave would be receiving pay and therefore ineligible for unemployment benefits while being paid.

A: Generally, if there's a reduction in available work hours for employees, the employees may be eligible for partial unemployment benefits.

A: The Small Business Administration has issued guidance to make clear that, as long as the company made a good faith, written offer of rehire at the same salary/wages and for the same number of hours, the employee's rejection of that offer will not result in a reduction of the company's loan forgiveness amount. The company must document the employee's rejection of the offer of rehire. Please also note that employees who reject offers of re-employment may forfeit eligibility for continued unemployment compensation.

A: Some states require employers to provide a separation notice, though specific requirements vary by state. For example, California requires employers that are laying off employees to furnish a specific notice (Pamphlet DE 2320) along with the employer's name, employee's name and social security number, the type of employment action (layoff, discharge, leave, etc.), and the date of such action.

Check your state law for its requirements.

A: At least one state—Georgia—is requiring employers to file unemployment benefits on employees' behalf as a result of COVID-19. Some other states are encouraging employers to do so. Employers should check with their unemployment agency to determine whether they can/should/must file unemployment benefits on their employees' behalf.

A: Under the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, business owners, self-employed individuals, part-time workers, and those with limited work histories may be eligible for temporary unemployment benefits assistance during their period of unemployment ending on or before December 31, 2020, if certain conditions are met.

To receive unemployment benefits under this program, individuals must certify that they are otherwise able and available to work (as defined by their applicable state law), but they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable to work because:

  • The individual has been diagnosed with COVID–19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • A member of the individual's household has been diagnosed with COVID–19;
  • The individual is providing care for a family member or a member of the individual's household who has been diagnosed with COVID–19;
  • A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of COVID–19 and school or facility care is required for the individual to work;
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine, or a health care provider advising the individual to self-quarantine;
  • The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID–19 public health emergency;
  • The individual has become the main source of financial support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID–19;
  • The individual has to quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID–19;
  • The individual's place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID–19 public health emergency;
  • The individual meets any additional criteria established by the Department of Labor for unemployment assistance; or
  • The individual is self-employed, is seeking part-time employment, does not have sufficient work history, or otherwise would not qualify for regular unemployment or extended benefits under state or federal law.

The individual must also certify that they don't have the ability to telework with pay and they aren't receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits. Benefits are limited to 39 weeks. Check with your state unemployment agency for details.

A: Here's a summary of some of these additional unemployment changes made by the CARES Act:

Emergency Increase in Unemployment Compensation Benefits (Section 2104):

This section provides for a federal-state partnership to make payments of regular compensation to individuals in amounts determined under state law plus $600. States will be fully reimbursed by the federal government for the extra payments.

Temporary Full Federal Funding of the First Week of Compensable Regular Unemployment for States With No Waiting Week (Section 2105):

States that do not impose a waiting week for unemployment benefits will be fully reimbursed by the federal government.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (Section 2107):

States may enter into a partnership with the federal government for an additional 13 weeks of federally funded unemployment compensation to individuals who have exhausted all rights to unemployment benefits under state and federal law for that benefit year (excluding benefits that ended before July 1, 2019) and are not otherwise receiving unemployment compensation under any state, federal, or Canadian law. Individuals must be able to, and be actively seeking, work.

Insurance

A: The reference to insurance premiums used in loan calculations refers to health benefits premiums only. This means those amounts used to pay for health, dental, vision and medical flexible spending accounts. Workers' Compensation premium is not included.

A: Generally speaking, pandemics and viruses are not covered in a workers' compensation policy. Some carriers and plans do have a rider that allows for a pandemic to qualify as a specific call out for business interruption insurance. However, this would need to be looked at on a case-by-case basis. Where it may be covered under a general plan is if there is an actual loss of property, such as if a business had vacated a building due to COVID-19 and a fire were to destroy the property.

A: Maybe. Most states have mandated that a policyholder can request a payroll audit from the carrier at any time, which could potentially reduce premium payments due to fluctuations in payroll. Carriers must comply with this request and they don't have to wait for the end-of-term audit to make premium adjustments. This may allow for increased cash flow for the business owner. Additionally, most workers' compensation carriers are working with clients on payment options, so it's important to check with your specific carrier or broker to see how this could impact you.

A: The CARES Act requires health insurance companies to cover certain COVID-19 related expenses and treatments. While we're still studying the full extent of what is required, many insurance companies have made special provisions for COVID -19. For example, some carriers are:

  • Adding off-cycle open enrollments to allow previously uncovered employees to obtain health coverage.
  • Retaining eligibility for employees that have been furloughed or had reduction in hours.
  • Waiving co-pay or costs associated with COVID-19 testing and treatments as well as waiving certain administrative requirements for providers/members to help make treatment easier.
  • Waiving fees for prescription delivery and are allowing for adjustments to prescription refills. For example, 30-day prescriptions can be refilled for 90 days.
  • Deploying physicians and nurses to areas that need assistance.

It is important to note that there are changes and updates to COVID-19 relief and carrier activities every day. Business owners should carefully monitor the situation and developments. Also, it's important to consult your insurance company, financial advisors and accountants to understand which relief options are best for you and your business circumstance.

Garnishments

A: Yes, Section 3513 of the CARES Act has provided temporary suspension of federal student loan garnishments. Other garnishment agencies are also offering relief, such as suspensions and refunds. ADP has created a comprehensive list of changes to wage garnishment agencies, courts, attorneys and creditors. You can see the list here.

Update: On August 8, 2020, the President signed a Memorandum on Continued Student Loan Payment Relief During the COVID-19 Pandemic, which provides for an extension of the relief provided under the CARES Act for debtors of student loans held by the Department of Education.

Specifically, under the Memorandum, payments and accrual of interest for student loans held by the Department of Education are temporarily suspended until September 30, 2021.

A: Log into RUN, and stop the garnishment on the employee profile. Make sure you retain the garnishment information, as you will need to reenter the garnishment when the suspension period ends. If you need further assistance, contact your ADP representative.

A: As agencies continue to issue guidance, ADP will update the list found here. You may also receive updates from agencies directly, typically through the mail. Alternatively, you may contact the agency for further instruction.

A: Contact your ADP representative for further assistance.

Vaccinations

A: With COVID-19 vaccines widely available in the United States, many employers have questions about their rights and obligations. Both federal and state authorities have begun to issue guidance and rules regarding the vaccine and its relation to nondiscrimination, paid leave, and other workplace issues.

Federal:

On May 28, 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces federal nondiscrimination laws, published updated guidance that makes clear that federal laws don't prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19, subject to the reasonable accommodation provisions discussed below.

Note: Under federal law, if the employer requires employees to receive vaccinations that are administered by the employer, they must also show that any pre-vaccination screening questions are job related and consistent with business necessity.

Reasonable Accommodations:

Federal law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who, because of a disability or a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance, don't get vaccinated for COVID-19, unless providing an accommodation would pose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.  

Some employees may seek job adjustments or may request exemptions from a COVID-19 vaccination requirement due to pregnancy. If an employee seeks an exemption from a vaccine requirement due to pregnancy, the employer must ensure that the employee is not being discriminated against compared to other employees similar in their ability or inability to work. This means that a pregnant employee may be entitled to job modifications, including telework, changes to work schedules or assignments, and leave to the extent such modifications are provided for other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work. Employers should ensure that supervisors, managers, and human resources personnel know how to handle such requests.

Disparate Impact and Disparate Treatment:

As with any employment policy, employers that have a vaccine requirement may need to respond to allegations that the requirement has a disparate impact on—or disproportionately excludes—employees based on their age, race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Employers should keep in mind that because some individuals or demographic groups may face greater barriers to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination than others, some employees may be more likely to be negatively impacted by a vaccination requirement, according to the updated guidance.

It would also be unlawful to apply a vaccination requirement to employees in a way that treats employees differently based on a protected characteristic, unless there is a legitimate non-discriminatory reason.

The guidance is available in full here (section K covers vaccinations).

Montana:

On May 7, 2021, Montana enacted legislation (House Bill 702) that prohibits employers from refusing employment to an individual or discriminating against an employee based on their vaccination status or whether they have an immunity passport.

California:

On March 4, 2021, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) published new guidance addressing vaccination policies and practices. In short, the DFEH says that an employer may require employees to receive an FDA-approved vaccination against COVID-19 infection as long as the employer:

  • Does not discriminate against or harass employees or job applicants on the basis of a protected characteristic;
  • Provides reasonable accommodations related to disability or sincerely-held religious beliefs or practices; and
  • Does not retaliate against anyone for engaging in protected activity (such as requesting a reasonable accommodation).

New Jersey:

The New Jersey Department of Labor (NJDOL) has released guidance that says employers may require that their employees receive COVID-19 vaccinations to return to the workplace, except under the following circumstances:

  • The employee has a disability or a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance that precludes them being vaccinated; or
  • The employee's physician has advised otherwise due to pregnancy or need to breastfeed.

An employer must provide a reasonable accommodation from a mandatory vaccine policy for any of the reasons listed above unless doing so would impose an undue burden on their operations. Reasonable accommodation may include:

  • Allowing an employee to continue to work remotely or otherwise work in a manner that would reduce or eliminate the risk of harm to other employees or the public; or
  • Providing an employee with personal protective equipment that sufficiently mitigates the employee's risk of COVID-19 transmission and exposure.

Other States and Local Jurisdictions:

Keep in mind that other states and some local jurisdictions may prohibit or limit employers from mandating employee vaccinations or have privacy laws that may impact employers.

An employee who does not get vaccinated due to a disability (or a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation that does not pose an undue hardship on the employer. For example, as a reasonable accommodation, an unvaccinated employee entering the workplace might wear a face mask, work at a social distance from coworkers or non-employees, work a modified shift, get periodic tests for COVID-19, be given the opportunity to telework, or finally, accept a reassignment.

Employees who are not vaccinated because of pregnancy may be entitled to adjustments to keep working, if the employer makes modifications or exceptions for other employees. These modifications may be the same as the accommodations made for an employee based on disability or religion.

A: Even if an employer can mandate COVID-19 vaccination, there are numerous issues to consider before doing so, such as:

  • The risk to others if employees don't get vaccinated;
  • The effectiveness of masks, social distancing, and other safety measures in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in their particular workplace so far;
  • The likelihood of employees seeking out the vaccine without a mandate;
  • The risk of litigation or workers' compensation claims if employers do/don't require vaccination (such as, an employee experiencing side effects from the vaccination);
  • Requirements for providing accommodations for disabilities and sincerely held religious beliefs and practices;
  • Protections for employees under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) if they work together to oppose a vaccine mandate; and
  • The potential impact on employee morale given the work environment and culture;

Rather than mandating COVID-19 vaccination, many employers are encouraging employees to get it. Before implementing any such program, consult legal counsel.

Ensure that your policies and practices comply with existing guidance and rules on COVID-19 vaccination and watch closely for developments.

A: Check the applicable quarantine orders and guidance and contact your local health department to determine the return-to-work requirements in such cases. Many jurisdictions have updated their quarantine guidance and rules in light of the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine. These rules and guidelines may differ depending on the length of time that has passed since they have been vaccinated and whether they're experiencing any symptoms.

Note: State and local rules and guidance may require or recommend that vaccinated individuals continue to follow safety protocols, such as wearing a mask, staying at least six feet away from others, avoiding crowds, and avoiding poorly ventilated spaces.

A: Federal, state, and local laws prohibit employers from treating employees differently or less favorably because of their age. Therefore, this type of policy would likely violate these laws.

A: Generally, where employers are allowed to establish a vaccine mandate, they may establish different rules for new hires and current employees, as long they don’t otherwise violate nondiscrimination laws.

A: If an employee requests an accommodation from a vaccination requirement because of a disability, you should engage in a discussion with the employee to identify workplace accommodation options that don't result in an undue hardship (significant difficulty or expense) to the business. This process should include determining whether it's necessary to obtain supporting documentation about the employee's disability and a consideration of the possible options for accommodation given the nature of the workforce and the employee's position. Keep in mind that the prevalence in the workplace of employees who already have received a COVID-19 vaccination and the amount of contact with others, whose vaccination status could be unknown, may impact the undue hardship consideration. When determining whether providing an accommodation would pose an undue hardship, consult legal counsel.

If an employee requests an exemption from the requirement for religious reasons, employers ordinarily should assume that the request is based on a sincerely held religious belief. However, if you have objective factors that might call into question the nature or sincerity of the request (such as inconsistent behavior), you would be justified in requesting additional supporting information, according to the EEOC guidance.

A: In the guidance published on December 16, 2020, the EEOC states if that standard screens out or tends to screen out an individual with a disability, the employer must show that an unvaccinated employee would pose a direct threat due to a "significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or others that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation." If an employer determines that a direct threat exists, the employer cannot exclude the employee from the workplace—or take any other adverse action—unless there is no way to provide a reasonable accommodation (absent undue hardship) that would eliminate or reduce this risk so there is no longer a direct threat.

Note: State and local nondiscrimination laws may offer additional protections.

A: The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has restrictions on when and how much medical information an employer may obtain from any applicant or employee. For example, prior to making a conditional job offer to an applicant, the ADA generally prohibits disability-related inquiries and medical exams. Once an employee begins work, any disability-related inquiries or medical exams must be job related and consistent with business necessity.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance that when an employer asks employees whether they obtained a COVID-19 vaccine from a third party in the community, such as a pharmacy, personal health care provider, or public clinic, the employer isn't asking a question that is likely to disclose the existence of a disability. Therefore, requesting documentation or other confirmation of vaccination by a third party in the community isn't a disability-related inquiry under the ADA, and the ADA's rules about such inquiries don't apply.

However, documentation or other confirmation of vaccination provided by the employee to the employer is medical information about the employee and must be kept confidential. Some state and local jurisdictions may restrict or prohibit employers from seeking proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Check your state and local law as well as guidance from local health officials to determine whether you can ask for proof. Watch for developments in this area because several state and local jurisdictions are contemplating restrictions.

Note: In May 2021, Santa Clara County (CA) issued an order that requires employers to determine the vaccination status of all employees and contractors and to take certain other safety measures.

A: While the EEOC has taken the position that federal law doesn't prohibit employers from requiring the COVID-19 vaccination, or proof of it, employers may be required to provide exceptions for employees who are unable to obtain the vaccination because of a disability or sincerely held religious beliefs, unless it would impose an undue hardship on the employer. State and local laws may also require an exception to such requirements in additional situations, such as with pregnant employees.

A: "Vaccine passports" are generally electronic documents showing vaccination status. They are typically developed by businesses and industry groups for travel and other purposes. However, New York became the first state to develop a way to present digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination (or negative test results), called the Excelsior Pass. Keep in mind some states have enacted laws or issued executive orders prohibiting businesses and government agencies from requiring vaccine passports for entry into their premises. Employers in these states will need to review the law carefully to determine if they're covered by the ban, which may apply not only to passports but also other documentation. Due to the ambiguity in some of these laws, employers may want to consult legal counsel when doing so.

A: When receiving the vaccine, individuals are typically provided a card that documents their vaccination progress. If an employee has lost or otherwise doesn't have documentation, you can ask them to request a copy from the medical provider. If they scheduled their appointment via the Vaccine Administration Management System, they may also be able to obtain their Vaccination Certificate there. If employees are unable to obtain documentation in a timely manner, employers may want to consider having the employee sign an attestation indicating that they've received the vaccine.

A: On May 13, 2021, the CDC updated its guidance to state that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting except where required by federal, state, local, laws and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. To be clear, some state and local rules still require fully vaccinated individuals to wear masks and follow other safety protocols.

Individuals are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19:

  • Two weeks or more after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna); or
  • Two weeks or more after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson [J&J]/Janssen).

A: Yes, employers generally may still require employees to wear face masks, practice social distancing, and follow other safety protocols. In fact, given the thorny issues around vaccine mandates and documentation, some employers may choose to continue to require mask wearing and social distancing regardless of vaccination status.

A: If employers simply recommend vaccination, they are under no obligation to pay employees for the time they spend getting the shot. However, if employers require vaccination, they would generally need to pay employees for the time they spend complying with the requirement.

A: If an employee has concerns about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, recommend that they contact their doctor and point them to the CDC's website. Senior leadership at your company can also demonstrate support for the vaccine by receiving the vaccine themselves. If employees have concerns about potential cost, you can let them know that vaccine doses purchased by the federal government will generally be provided at no cost. However, vaccination providers may be able to charge administration fees for giving the shot. In such cases, many health plans will cover the fee at no cost to the policy holder. For uninsured individuals, there may be assistance available to cover the administration fee.

Note: If employers are permitted to require vaccination and do so, they may be required to pay for the cost of it. Under federal law, employers would be required to cover the cost if it would reduce the employee's pay below the minimum wage. Under some state laws, employers would be required to cover the cost even if it doesn't reduce the employee's pay below the minimum wage.

A: Under federal law, employers generally aren't required to provide time off for COVID-19 vaccination. However, effective April 1, 2021, employers that do provide such leave may be eligible for tax credits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) (see next section).

Some states and local jurisdictions have enacted specific requirements for providing leave for COVID-19 vaccination. For example, in March 2021, the state of New York enacted a law that entitles employees to up to four hours of paid leave per injection. Employers must provide the leave at the employee's regular rate of pay and cannot deduct this leave from any other earned or accrued time. States and local jurisdictions may have existing paid sick leave laws that would cover time off to obtain the COVID-19 vaccination. Check your state and local laws to ensure compliance.

A: If a customer asks how many employees are vaccinated and the employer knows the answer, the employer can generally say that "x percentage of our employees have reported that they are vaccinated" and should follow up by discussing the other safety protocols they are following to protect customers and employees. Never reveal to a customer whether a specific employee(s) is/are vaccinated. If you anticipate or experience a customer requesting/demanding service from only a vaccinated employee, consult legal counsel to discuss applicable laws and your particular situation. For instance, Montana generally prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee based on their vaccination status or whether they have an immunity passport. Assigning employees based on their vaccination status could violate this law. Employees in other jurisdictions may also have similar protections.

Under federal law, an employer may offer an incentive to employees to voluntarily provide documentation or other confirmation of a vaccination received in the community, according to the EEOC. However, employers must keep vaccination information confidential.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

On March 18, 2020, the United States enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which required employers to provide paid leave to certain employees impacted by COVID-19 and offer tax credits to employers that do so. The law required two types of paid leave: Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Public Health Emergency Leave/Expanded FMLA. The leave requirements expired at the end of 2020, but the tax credits were extended for employers that voluntarily provide such leave.

General

A: The leave requirements took effect April 1, 2020 and expired December 31, 2020. On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the COVID-related Tax Relief Act of 2020 (CTRA), which extended through March 31, 2021 the tax credit portion of the FFCRA for employers that voluntarily offer emergency paid sick leave or PHEL. On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). As a result of the ARPA, the tax credit is extended beginning April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021, and remains refundable and advanceable via IRS Form 7200.

The mandatory leave portion of the FFCRA terminated as expected on December 31, 2020.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave

A: As enacted, the FFCRA covered up to 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave for full-time employees. For part-time employees, the law covers emergency paid sick leave in the amount of the average number of hours they work over a two-week period.

The requirement to provide this leave ended on December 31, 2020. However, employers that provide FFCRA qualifying leave voluntarily may be eligible for tax credits through September 30, 2021.

A: As enacted, the FFCRA covered emergency paid sick leave when employees are unable to work (or telework) because of the following reasons:

  • The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or is caring for an individual who is subject to such an order.
  • The employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19 or is caring for an individual who has been advised to self-quarantine.
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • The employee is caring for their child due to their school or place of care being closed, or their childcare provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.
  • The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The ARPA adds new reasons for which employees may take paid sick or family leave for which employers are entitled to the tax credit, including leave for time awaiting the results of a test to diagnose COVID-19, to obtain immunization for it, or to recover from any adverse health impacts arising from the immunization. These new reasons apply from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021.

The FFCRA's requirement to provide leave ended on December 31, 2020. However, employers that provide FFCRA qualifying leave voluntarily may be eligible for tax credits through September 30, 2021.

Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL)/Expanded FMLA

A: From April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021, the tax credits apply when eligible employees are provided PHEL for the same reasons as allowed under the emergency paid sick leave provisions, including the vaccination-related reasons. Therefore, for the purposes of the tax credits, the following absences are covered:

  • The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or is caring for an individual who is subject to such an order.
  • The employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19 or is caring for an individual who has been advised to self-quarantine.
  • The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • The employee is caring for their son or daughter due to their school or place of care being closed, or their childcare provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.
  • The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.
  • The employee is awaiting the results of a test to diagnose COVID-19, to obtain immunization for COVID-19, or to recover from any adverse health impacts arising from the immunization.

Note: The requirement to provide this leave ended on December 31, 2020. However, employers that provide FFCRA qualifying leave voluntarily may be eligible for tax credits through September 30, 2021.

A: The FFCRA covers up to 12 weeks of PHEL.

A: As soon as practicable, an employee must provide documentation containing the following information:

  • Employee's name;
  • Date(s) for which leave is requested
  • Qualifying reason for the leave; and
  • Oral or written statement that the employee is unable to work because of a qualified reason.

An employee must also provide:

  • The name of the son or daughter;
  • The name of the school, place of care, or child care provider that has closed or become unavailable; and
  • A representation that no other suitable person will be caring for the son or daughter during the period for which the employee takes leave under the FFCRA.

The employer may also request an employee to provide additional material needed for the employer to support a request for tax credits pursuant to the FFCRA.

Tax Credits

A: Under the law, all employers with fewer than 500 employees are allowed a credit against certain employer taxes for qualified paid sick leave wages paid by the employer. The credit is increased by specified health expenses (such as, employer-paid health plan premiums) that are excluded from employees' income.

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Under the ARPA, the credit is further expanded to apply to pension contributions and apprenticeship program costs associated with qualifying FFCRA sick or family leave wages.

Because the credit is fully refundable, employers will receive reimbursement of the amount paid, subject to the caps, even if their tax liability is less than the amount paid out in the required leave. Emergency paid sick leave and PHEL wages paid are also exempt from Social Security taxes otherwise imposed on the employer.

A: Yes. The amount of sick leave wages eligible for the tax credit is limited to $511 per day for care required for the employee, and $200 per day for care that the employee provided to others. The amount of PHEL wages eligible for the tax credit is capped at $200 a day per employee. From April 1, 2021 through the September 30, 2021, the aggregate PHEL payments eligible is limited to $12,000 per employee.*

* On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). As a result of the ARPA, the wage limit for PHEL payments eligible increased from $10,000 per employee to $12,000 per employee (capped at $200 per day).

A: The credits generally cover 100 percent of up to 10 days of the qualified sick leave wages and up to $12,000 of the qualified PHEL/Expanded FMLA wages that an eligible employer paid during a calendar quarter to an employee, plus the amount of the eligible employer's share of Medicare taxes imposed on those wages.

Note: For the purposes of the tax credit, the original FFCRA 10-day limitation for emergency paid sick leave applies through March 31, 2021. Signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) reset this limit for qualifying sick leave taken between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021. The ARPA also increased the wage limit for paid family leave payments eligible from $10,000 per employee to $12,000 per employee.

A: The IRS says an eligible employer won't be subject to a penalty under section 6656 of the Internal Revenue Code for failing to deposit federal employment taxes relating to qualified leave wages in a calendar quarter if:

  • The employer paid qualified leave wages to its employees in the calendar quarter before the required deposit;
  • The amount of federal employment taxes that the employer doesn't timely deposit is less than or equal to the amount of the anticipated tax credits for these qualified leave wages for the calendar quarter as of the time of the required deposit; and
  • The employer didn't seek payment of an advance credit by filing Form 7200, Advance Payment of Employer Credits Due to COVID-19, with respect to any portion of the anticipated credits it relied upon to reduce its deposits.

For more information about the relief from the penalty for failure to deposit federal employment taxes, see IRS Notice 2020-22.

A: The amount of qualified health plan expenses taken into account in determining the credits generally includes both the portion of the cost paid by the employer and the portion of the cost paid by the employee with pre-tax salary reduction contributions. However, the qualified health plan expenses should not include amounts that the employee paid for with after-tax contributions.

A: The IRS has released guidance indicating that employers may receive the federal tax credits for paid sick leave and/or public health emergency leave provided pursuant to a federal, state, or local law, if the leave otherwise satisfies the requirements of the FFCRA, as amended by the ARPA. For example, California requires employers with more than 25 employees to provide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave to employees. Employers would generally be able to apply the federal tax credits to reimburse the cost of such leave if it meets the requirements of the FFCRA as amended by the ARPA.

A: The IRS says an employer can substantiate eligibility for the credits if the employer receives a written request for emergency paid sick leave or PHEL from the employee in which the employee provides:

Employee information and reason for leave:

  • The employee's name;
  • The date or dates for which leave is requested;
  • The COVID-19 related reason the employee is requesting leave and written support for such reason; and
  • A statement that the employee is unable to work, including by means of telework, for such reason.

Supporting documentation:

Additional documentation is required depending on the reason for the need for leave:

  • A quarantine or isolation order: the government entity that issued the order.
  • A healthcare provider advised self-isolation: the name of the healthcare provider. Note: If the person subject to quarantine, isolation, or self-quarantine isn't the employee, the documentation should also include the person's name and relation to the employee.
  • To care for a son or daughter. An employee should also provide their child's name, the name of school or place of care that's closed, and a representation that no other suitable person will be caring for the child during the period for which the employee takes leave under the FFCRA. Note: If the employee's inability to work or telework is because of a need to provide care for a child older than 14 during daylight hours, the documentation should also include a statement that special circumstances exist requiring the employee to provide care.

Additional documentation:

Employers should also retain:

  • Documentation to show how the employer determined the amount of qualified leave wages paid to employees that are eligible for the credit, including records of work, telework and qualified leave.
  • Documentation to show how the employer determined the amount of qualified health plan expenses that the employer allocated to wages.
  • Copies of any completed Forms 7200 that the employer submitted to the IRS.
  • Copies of the completed Forms 941 that the employer submitted to the IRS (or, for employers that use third party payers to meet their employment tax obligations, records of information provided to the third-party payer regarding the employer's entitlement to the credit claimed on Form 941).

A: Signed by President Trump on December 27, 2020, the COVID-related Tax Relief Act of 2020 (CTRA) extends the tax credit portion of the FFCRA for employers that voluntarily offer emergency paid sick leave or PHEL through March 31, 2021. On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). As a result of the ARPA, the tax credit is extended beginning April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021, and remains refundable and advanceable via IRS Form 7200.

A: The IRS provides additional guidance here (leave before April 1, 2021) and here (leave after March 31, 2021).

A: Three new earnings are now available in RUN to support the changes made by the ARPA and can be used from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021 for covered COVID-19-related time off:

  • AR FMLA Expansion: For family leave taken under the ARPA. Payment maximum is $12,000 per employee and only applies to leave taken between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021.
  • AR Employee Pay: For sick leave taken for the employee's own care under the ARPA. Payment is not to exceed $511 per day for two weeks (80 hours) with a maximum limit of $5,110 and only applies to leave taken between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021.
  • AR Fam Care Pay: For sick leave taken to care for a family member under the ARPA. Payment is not to exceed $200 per day for two weeks (80 hours) with a maximum limit of $2,000 and only applies to leave taken between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021.

Follow the RUN in-product messaging to add the new ARPA earnings codes for check dates April 1, 2021 and later.

Please note that prior to April 1, 2021, these amounts would have been recorded under three FFCRA earning codes. The FFCRA earning codes will expire on March 31, 2021.

COBRA Subsidy Program

A: Signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provides a 100% COBRA subsidy for qualified employees and dependents who lose coverage as a result of an involuntary terminations or a reduction in hours (assistance eligible individuals or AEIs). The ARPA also provides a special second election opportunity for AEIs who are still within their COBRA maximum period but who had not previously elected COBRA, as well as AEIs who previously elected COBRA but are no longer enrolled (for example, an individual who terminated coverage because they were unable to continue paying the premium).

This subsidy is available for periods of coverage from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021. AEIs don't have to pay any of the COBRA premium for the period of coverage from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021. The premium is reimbursed directly to the employer, plan administrator, or insurance company through a COBRA premium assistance credit.

A: New notices are required to advise potential qualified individuals of the availability of COBRA premium assistance for health coverage and to enroll in coverage from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021. The U.S. Department of Labor has published the following model notices to address the COBRA subsidy:

  • Model General Notice and COBRA Continuation Coverage Election Notice
    A general notice that must be provided to all qualified beneficiaries who either have a qualifying event that is a reduction in hours or an involuntary termination of employment from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021. This notice may be provided separately or with the COBRA election notice following a COBRA qualifying event.
  • Model Notice in Connection with Extended Election Period (see QA below)
    This is a model notice of the extended COBRA election period to any AEI who had a qualifying event before April 1, 2021. This notice must be provided by May 31, 2021.
  • Model Alternative Notice of Continuation Coverage Election Notice
    This notice can be used for coverage subject to state continuation requirements between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021.
  • Model Notice of Expiration of Premium Assistance
    Plans and issuers are required to provide individuals with a notice explaining that the premium assistance for the individual will expire soon, the date of the expiration, and that the individual may be eligible for coverage without any premium assistance through COBRA continuation coverage or coverage under a group health plan. This notice must be provided 15 - 45 days before the individual's premium assistance expires.
  • Summary of COBRA Premium Assistance Provisions
    This form should be included with the General Notice, the Alternative Notice, and the Notice in Connection with Extended Election Periods from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021.

The notices are also available in alternate formats from the DOL here.

The notices must include:

  • The forms necessary for establishing eligibility for premium assistance;
  • The name, address, and telephone number necessary to contact the plan administrator and any other person maintaining relevant information in connection with premium assistance;
  • A description of the extended election period (see QA below);
  • A description of the obligation to notify the plan administrator when the beneficiary becomes eligible for coverage under any other group health plan;
  • A description, displayed prominently, of the qualified beneficiary's right to a subsidized premium and any conditions of entitlement to the subsidized premium; and
  • A description of the option of the qualified beneficiary to enroll in different coverage if the employer permits such a change.

A: These assistance eligible individuals (AEIs) may be entitled to an extended election period if they're still within their COBRA maximum period. The extended election period applies to individuals who:

  • Aren't covered under COBRA as of April 1, 2021 because they didn't elect coverage, or they are no longer enrolled (for example, an individual who terminated coverage because they were unable to continue paying the premium); and
  • Would have been eligible for subsidies if they had elected or continued coverage.

Plan administrators have until May 31, 2021 to notify affected individuals of this extended election period. The individuals will have 60 days from the date of the notice to elect COBRA continuation coverage.

A: This premium assistance is generally available for continuation coverage under the federal COBRA provisions, as well as for group health insurance coverage under comparable state continuation coverage ("mini-COBRA") laws.

A: In RUN, the COBRA tax credit earning supports the COBRA subsidy. You may set up the COBRA tax credit earning in Company > Earnings Deductions.

  1. In Payroll Date Entry (PDE), select Payroll Overrides > Add/View COBRA Credit. Employees with a termination date less than 18 months old will display.
  2. Optional: If using Quick PDE, click COBRA Credits.
  3. Enter the amount of credit in the COBRA Credit column. Click Save.

This earning will only apply to COBRA coverage for the period between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021.

Note: In RUN, the credit entered in payroll will net with payroll debits and directly reduce the federal payroll tax liability, except for FUTA, for that payroll. Any credits left over from previous payrolls will reduce tax liability of future payrolls.

A: The U.S. Department of Labor has published answers to frequently asked questions and other guidance here.