North America

Relief ahead for multi-employer pension plans in the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act

The recently re-introduced Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021 (Butch Lewis Act), originally passed by the House in 2019 and re-introduced in February 2021, is Congress’ most recent effort to direct funds to assist troubled multi-employer pension plans. Unlike previous legislative efforts in 2019 and 2020 which never made it through the Senate, with the recent change in the administration and control of the Senate, the Butch Lewis Act progressed rapidly through Congress. On March 1, the Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden released a statement confirming that the provisions of the Butch Lewis Act had the necessary budget impact to be included in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (the latest proposal for a COVID-19 relief plan). Senator Wyden noted that “the economic crisis has hit already struggling pension plans like a wrecking ball, and the retirement security of millions of American workers depends on getting this package across the finish line.” As a result, the multi-employer pension plan relief provided in the Butch Lewis Act was included in the final relief bill passed by the Senate, and the House of Representatives passed the American Rescue Plan on March 10, 2021. President Biden signed the bill into law on March 11, 2021.  Read more…

Read full article

American Rescue Plan provides tax relief to families and extends enhanced unemployment benefits

On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law the $1.9 trillion U.S. coronavirus relief package, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). The ARPA contains several tax provisions, the majority of which focus on providing relief to families earning less than $150,000 per year, and also extends enhanced unemployment benefits that were set to expire on March 14, 2021. Read more…

Read full article

Congress approves $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund

Following the U.S. Senate’s passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan on March 6, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the final version of the new stimulus package on March 10. President Biden signed the stimulus package into law on Thursday, March 11, 2021.

As part of the American Rescue Plan, Congress approved a $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), which will provide federal grants to eligible foodservice and drinking establishments like restaurants, bars, caterers, breweries, taprooms, and tasting rooms. The RRF will be administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer held a press conference with members of the Independent Restaurant Coalition and high-profile restaurant owners on March 10, in which the Democratic senator from New York stated he will “urge the SBA to stand up for relief and set up the program as soon as the bill is signed into law,” and that first they have to confirm President Biden’s nominee for Deputy Administrator of the SBA, Dilawar Syed. Read more…

Read full article

New York Legislation Provides Employees with Paid Leave for COVID-19 Vaccinations

New York’s Legislature recently passed a bill, which, if signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, would temporarily amend the New York Labor Law to require New York employers to provide employees with up to four hours of paid leave per injection to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Since the four-hour leave is per injection, employers will have to provide up to eight hours of paid leave for two-dose vaccination regimens, such as those being manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna. It is also possible that additional paid leave time will be needed if vaccine “booster” shots are required in the future.

Any such “vaccine leave” must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay and is in addition to (and cannot be charged against) any other leave to which an employee may be entitled, including under the State’s recently-enacted mandatory paid sick leave law. However, the provisions of this vaccine leave law may be waived in a collective bargaining agreement provided it explicitly references the law. Read more…

Read full article

Responding to Law Enforcement Demands for HIPAA Protected Information

Medical providers are often asked, or feel obligated, to disclose confidential information about patients.  This blog post discusses when disclosures of confidential medical information involve law enforcement, but the general principles discussed herein are instructive in any scenario.  To protect patient confidentiality and avoid costly civil liability arising from improper disclosures, it is imperative that providers ask questions to assess the urgency of any request and to understand for what purpose the information is sought by authorities.  Knowing what questions to ask at the outset prepares providers to make informed decisions about disclosing confidential information in a manner that balances the obligation to maintain patient confidentiality and trust with legitimate law enforcement requests for information aimed at protecting the public.

Read full article

Regulators Clarify COVID-19 Relief Deadline Extension

Plan sponsors and administrators have been grappling with how to handle the possible expiration of the extension relief granted for certain deadlines applicable to group health plans under the “Joint Notice” published in May 2020 (the 2020 Guidance). With just two days to go before the 2020 Guidance was set to expire on February 28, 2021, the Department of Labor (DOL), in coordination with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (collectively with the DOL, the Agencies), issued the EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 (the Notice), which clarified that the extension relief granted under the 2020 Guidance will extend past the February 28, 2021 statutory expiration date. Read more…

Read full article

Illinois Department of Labor Issues Guidance on Providing Leave for Employees to Get Vaccinated

The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) has issued March 2021 guidance for employers on “Compensation, Paid Leave and the COVID-19 Vaccine,” advising employers on providing employees with time off and flexibility in order to get the first (and as necessary, the second dose) of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Mandatory Vaccination Programs

The IDOL guidance states that pursuant to the Illinois Minimum Wage Law and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, if an employer requires employees to get vaccinated, then the time the employee spends getting the vaccine “is likely compensable,” even if the employee gets vaccinated during non-working time.

Read full article

Unlocking Value in Health Data: Truveta’s Data Monetization Strategy Carries Big Risks and Responsibilities

Alaap B. Shah and Nivedita B. Patel, attorneys in the Health Care & Life Sciences practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, co-authored an article in MobiHealthNews, titled “Unlocking Value in Health Data: Truveta’s Data Monetization Strategy Carries Big Risks and Responsibilities.”

Following is an excerpt:

In today’s world, data is power. Healthcare providers have massive amounts of rich health data at their fingertips. Yet historically, third-party vendors to healthcare providers often have derived financial benefits from secondary use of this data through aggregating and brokering de-identified data to downstream customers.

Read full article

New York City Council Establishes Board to Assess Employers’ COVID-19 Workplace Health and Safety Protocols and Training

Our colleagues Susan Gross Sholinsky, Nancy Guzenhauser Popper, Eric Emanuelson, and Christopher Shur of Epstein Becker Green have a new post on the Workforce Bulletin blog that will be of interest to our readers: “New York City Council Establishes Board to Assess Employers’ COVID-19 Workplace Health and Safety Protocols and Training.”

Read full article

New York City Council Establishes Board to Assess Employers’ COVID-19 Workplace Health and Safety Protocols and Training

The New York City Council is planning to evaluate how effectively both the City, as an employer, and private employers disseminated and implemented COVID-19 workplace guidance over the past year with the goal of strengthening how the public and private sectors manage future public health emergencies. On February 28, 2021, the Council enacted Int. 2161-2020 (the “Law”), which establishes a board to review the workplace health and safety guidance that agencies and private employers issued to their respective employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The newly formed board will ultimately submit a final report and recommendations to the Mayor and Speaker of the Council by December 15, 2021. The Law is effective immediately.

Read full article