Reporting Developments Affecting Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation

Locke Lord QuickStudy: New Guidance Issued on What Employers Must Consider Before Charging Higher ‎Group Medical Insurance Premiums for Unvaccinated Employees

In our September 2, 2021 QuickStudy available here, we outlined the various laws governing wellness plans and described how group health plans might structure a premium surcharge for employees who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine to fit within such existing rules. This week, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Treasury (collectively, the “Departments”) issued new Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”) that specifically address wellness plan compliance requirements for group health plan premium discounts or surcharges on vaccinated or unvaccinated employees, respectively.

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Locke Lord QuickStudy: What Employers Should Consider Before Charging Higher Group Medical Insurance Premiums for Unvaccinated Employees

On August 23, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first COVID-19 vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine, which has been referred to as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and has been available only under an emergency use authorization up to now, will be marketed under the brand name Comirnaty.

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US Dept. of Labor Announces Cybersecurity Guidance for Plan Sponsors, Plan Fiduciaries, Record-Keepers and Plan Participants

The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently issued guidance on best practices for ‎maintaining cybersecurity directed to plan sponsors, fiduciaries, record-keepers and ‎participants of employee benefit plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income ‎Security Act of 1974, as amended (“ERISA”). While some prior cybersecurity guidance ‎has been issued for certain employee benefit plans governed by ERISA ‎, this is the ‎first guidance issued by the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) of the ‎DOL related to cybersecurity.‎

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IRS Provides Additional Guidance on COBRA Premium Subsidy

On July 26, 2021, the IRS issued Notice 2021-46 (the “Notice”), which provides new guidance in the form of 11 questions and answers on the COBRA premium subsidy and the related tax credit under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”). The Notice expands on previous guidance provided under Notice 2021-31.

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IRS Extends Relief Allowing Remote Witnessing Procedures for Certain Retirement Plan Elections

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, administrators of defined benefit pension plans continue ‎to field questions about the notary requirement related to certain participant and spousal ‎elections. For qualified retirement plans subject to the qualified joint and survivor annuity rules ‎‎(such as defined benefit pension plans), an alternative form of payment may be selected by a ‎participant if the participant’s spouse consents in writing and the spouse’s signature is witnessed ‎in the physical presence of a plan representative or a notary public.‎

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IRS Updates Qualified Plan Correction Procedures

The IRS recently issued Revenue Procedure 2021-30, which updates the correction program under the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS).  EPCRS permits plan sponsors to correct failures in the form and operation of retirement plans intended to satisfy the requirements of Sections 401(a), 403(a), 403(b), 408(k) or 408(p) of the Internal Revenue Code.

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DOL, HHS, and Treasury Jointly Issue FAQs on the CAA’s Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Provisions

On April 2, 2021, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Treasury (the “Departments”) issued Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”) related to the implementation of the mental health and substance use disorder parity provisions under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (“CAA”) and the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act (“MHPAEA”).

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