Partner Saghi Fattahian and associate Lindsay Goodman were quoted in an SHRM article about the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) compliance requirements under the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which was enacted on December 27.
Immediately following his inauguration on January 20, US President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. began taking executive action to enact many of his administration’s initial priorities, which included a number of executive orders, memoranda, and directives to cabinet agencies to address policies he detailed during his campaign, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, equality, and the global economy. To help clients navigate potential changes from these actions, Morgan Lewis has provided a quick analysis of many of these orders and their impact. We will release more detailed pieces as the president unveils additional specifics of his First 100 Days plan.
Following the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, President Biden signed several executive orders related to immigration. And, as promised by the Biden transition team, the Biden administration has sent a sweeping immigration reform proposal to Congress, where the effort to pass the bill will be led by Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey. We provide below a summary of significant executive actions related to immigration, as well as a summary of the key points in the legislative proposal. We also summarize the status of certain Trump administration immigration rules post-inauguration.
The US Department of Labor (DOL) provided three long-awaited pieces of sub-regulatory guidance on January 12 on the issues of missing participants and uncashed checks.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order on January 12 stating that all air travel passengers over the age of 2 (including US citizens and green card holders) are required to obtain a negative COVID-19 test prior to departing any foreign country or to produce evidence of their recovery from COVID-19.
Morgan Lewis partner Elizabeth Goldberg spoke with Law360 article about the US Department of Labor’s recently issued guidance on what retirement fund managers are to do when they lose track of beneficiaries.
The ongoing effort to provide relief for troubled multiemployer pension plans took many twists and turns in 2020, and the year ended once again without an agreed-upon solution.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on January 11 published its Final Rule amending procedural rules for its conciliation process. EEOC is statutorily required to engage in the conciliation process whenever it finds reasonable cause to believe that discrimination has occurred, and it may not commence litigation prior to engaging in the conciliation process.
Effective June 30, 2021, the US Department of Labor will determine the prevailing wage for permanent labor certifications and labor condition applications based on a new formula for computing prevailing wage levels, resulting in higher prevailing wage levels for all occupations in the Occupation Employment Statistics wage database.
Morgan Lewis partner Eleanor Pelta discussed the US Department of Labor’s immigration rule, which will raise the required wages for workers on high-skilled visas with Law360.
Since 2012, US Department of Labor (DOL) regulations under ERISA Section 408(b)(2)—a statutory exemption from the ERISA prohibited transaction provisions—have required certain service providers to employer-sponsored retirement plans to make detailed disclosures about their services and related “direct” and “indirect” compensation to a “responsible plan fiduciary” of the plan.
Notice 2020-86 (Notice) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides guidance to help interpret and apply certain Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act) provisions that impact so-called “safe-harbor plans.” Written in Q&A style, the Notice addresses and clarifies a number of interpretative questions that arose following the enactment of the SECURE Act.
The Japanese government declared a second state of emergency on January 7, 2021; however, a comprehensive entry ban that had been considered was not implemented.
The Final Rule retains the “economic realities” test while focusing on two “core factors” in analyzing whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor but given the upcoming change in administration, employers should not make any changes in reliance on the Final Rule.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which became law on December 27, 2020, contains two provisions that extend and expand the employee retention credit for employers.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Act) that was signed into law on December 27, 2020 contains provisions impacting employer sponsored group health plans, including protecting group health plan participants from surprise medical bills, ensuring health plan price transparency, and offering relief related to health and dependent care flexible spending accounts. These provisions are summarized below.
US President Donald Trump has extended the entry ban on H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and specific J-1 statuses as well as certain immigrant entries through March 31, 2021. The original proclamations were set to expire on December 31, 2020, and were extended on the very last day.
Morgan Lewis partner Sharon Masling discussed the future of remote working as part of a series of 2021 predictions collated by Legaltech News. Sharon, a director of the firm’s workplace culture consulting group, said, “Although vaccines offer some hope for returning to a pre-pandemic in-person work environment, remote work has become the new normal and employees increasingly expect to have remote work flexibility.”
Senior Director of Morgan Lewis’s Washington Strategic Government Relations and Counseling Practice Timothy Lynch spoke with Law360 about the union pension issues the US Congress and incoming Biden administration are expected to address in 2021.
Partners Sharon Perley Masling, Carrie Gonell, and Cosimo Zavaglia and associate Daniel Kadish authored a Bloomberg Law article about the legal issues concerning employees who are working remotely from other states and jurisdictions to which they relocated for the long term because of COVID-19.
Morgan Lewis partner Sharon Perley Masling spoke with The Washington Post for an article about the likely implications of COVID-19 on the 2021 workplace.
Morgan Lewis partner Sharon Perley Masling spoke with Bloomberg Law about the legal questions for employers around mandating the COVID-19 vaccine. “Whether to mandate the vaccine is obviously an industry-by-industry and employer-by-employer decision,” said Sharon. “In most cases, however, our clients are deciding to strongly encourage their employees to get the vaccine rather than require them to do so while the vaccine is under an EUA.”
The Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act establishes new federal protections for whistleblowers who report violations of antitrust laws. This may impact enforcement efforts and litigation on labor mobility issues, including no-poaching and wage-fixing agreements. Companies can prepare for the new legal standards by updating or enhancing their whistleblower programs and taking a holistic view of their compliance programs to meet new US Department of Justice Antitrust Division standards.
Partner Sharon Perley Masling was quoted in a Boston Globe article about best practices for employers seeking for their workforce to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The US Department of Labor (DOL) has released its final rule on the application of ERISA fiduciary duties—specifically the duties of prudence and loyalty—to proxy voting and the exercise of shareholder rights. It takes effect on January 15, 2021, with delayed applicability dates for certain provisions. It adds an additional subsection to the DOL’s final “financial factors” regulation that was published in the Federal Register in November.
The United Kingdom on 2 December became the first country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for coronavirus (COVID-19), with approximately 500,000 people receiving the vaccine in the first two weeks of the largest vaccination programme in British history.
UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on 17 December that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is to be extended until 30 April 2021. This represents a further extension of one month.
Morgan Lewis partner Jonathan Zimmerman spoke with Law360 for an article about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on employee benefits. In the article, he discussed the approaches employers are taking in regard to unused paid vacation time including 401 (k) contributions.
Businesses in the United Kingdom which engage contractors through intermediaries should prepare now for changes to the “IR35” rules that will take effect in April 2021.
Morgan Lewis partner Sharon Masling spoke with CBS News about the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s recently released guidance that employers can mandate employees be vaccinated for COVID-19 in certain circumstances.
On the heels of the US Food and Drug Administration’s first issuance of an Emergency Use Authorization for a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission published an updated technical assistance bulletin that begins to address some of the questions employers have raised regarding whether they can require employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19, as well as considerations employers should be aware of if they do offer a COVID-19 vaccination program.
Morgan Lewis partner Susan Harthill spoke with Law360 about the increase in the amount of paid sick leave offered by companies across industries at varied levels.
Governor Gavin Newsom announced a regional stay-at-home order on December 3 in response to the unprecedented surge of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in California.
Morgan Lewis partner Sharon Perley Masling spoke with the HuffPost about the potential for employers to require employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine. “Most clients right now are leaning toward encouraging rather than requiring the vaccine, just because there are still so many unanswered questions,” said Sharon in the article. “I think it is wise for employers to start planning, but those plans are going to be revised as we get more information.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance to public health agencies on December 2 to provide options to reduce the duration of quarantine periods for asymptomatic individuals who were exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Partner Jonathan Snare and associate Alana Genderson spoke with HR Magazine for an article about what employers may expect regarding enforcement by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under a Biden administration.
Morgan Lewis partner Sharon Perley Masling spoke with The Washington Post about the unanswered questions employers are facing regarding a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
California employers must now comply with a new set of emergency coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention regulations, which include a written prevention program, requirements for outbreaks and major outbreaks, and prevention measures in employer-provided housing and transportation.
Morgan Lewis partners Susan Harthill, Jennifer Breen, and Kenneth Polite authored a Law360 article about the pace of personnel changes that could result in federal agencies under a Biden administration.
As the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continue to rise throughout the country and the impact of the pandemic on employers continues unabated, many employers and employees are exploring not only how to work remotely, but whether and where to work remotely. Remote work continues to be required or strongly encouraged in some areas, and remote work may also appeal to employers as they respond to employee concerns about in-person work and consider potential cost savings. However, businesses that either ask or permit employees to work remotely on a long-term basis should be cognizant of the numerous potential legal implications, as well as business concerns that these arrangements can create.
A LawFlash authored by Morgan Lewis partners Sharon Perley Masling and Kathy Sanzo, and associates Alana Genderson, Christopher Jaynes, and Maria Kalousi-Tatum was quoted in an EHS Today article about the potential for employers to establish policies related to a COVID-19 vaccine.
Morgan Lewis partners Matthew Howse, Pulina Whitaker, Louise Skinner, and Lee Harding’s blog post about the potential implications of a successful COVID-19 vaccine for the workplace was featured in recent Daily Mail article.
Morgan Lewis partner Lee Harding authored an article for Employee Benefits where he discussed the impact of the extension of the UK’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. In the article, Lee explains that while most aspects of the scheme remain the same, the extension will have implications for employers who were preparing to make dismissals.
Morgan Lewis of counsel Kimberley Lunetta and associates Alana Genderson and Daniel Kadish’s BOMA New York presentation, “Minimizing General & Employment Law Liability,” was featured in a recent Real Estate Weekly article.
In a judgment handed down on 13 November 2020, the High Court held that the UK government failed to provide workers with the right not to be disadvantaged for taking steps in response to serious and imminent danger and did not require employers to provide workers with suitable personal protective equipment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new interim guidance on November 16, revising the approach businesses should take when determining whether critical infrastructure workers who have been exposed to persons with suspected or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) may continue to work in person.
The eagerly anticipated news of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine candidates last week has been welcomed by the scientific community across the globe. For employers, the news has prompted consideration of the potential implications of a successful vaccine for the workplace.
While workplace safety standards have been thrust into the national conversation since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforcement has been relatively quiet. That will likely change under a Biden administration.
New York State and New York City have recently issued guidance and documentation on the New York State Paid Sick Leave Law (the State Sick Leave Law) and amended New York City Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (the NYC Sick Leave Law), respectively.
Morgan Lewis partner Jonathan Snare spoke with Business Insurance for an article about coronavirus (COVID-19)-related safety protocols.
The US Department of Labor’s final ERISA regulation generally follows its proposal but without the focus on environmental, social, and governance investing.
The upcoming change in the US presidential administration is expected to significantly alter the landscape of immigration adjudication and enforcement in the United States. Our immigration team will present a one-hour webinar examining some of the changes that President-elect Joseph Biden’s administration could make to US business immigration policy, as well as recent USCIS and DOL regulatory changes and immigration in post-Brexit Europe.
Partner Julie Stapel spoke with Pensions & Investments about the potential implications of a Biden administration on recent proposals from the US Department of Labor (DOL) related to the ERISA fiduciary rule. Julie noted that the current proposal for the fiduciary rule "gets close enough to what the more liberal thinkers at the DOL were hoping for."
Morgan Lewis partner Susan Harthill was quoted in an HR Dive article about a potential extension of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s (FFCRA's) leave provisions, which has been stalled in the US Congress.
President-elect Joseph Biden has indicated that he will make significant changes to the policies and practices of the prior administration that will impact the public and employers, including in the sports industry.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in the United Kingdom (UK) has released its full guidance for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) extension, which was first announced by the UK government on 31 October 2020. The scheme has since been extended until 31 March 2021.
Legalized adult recreational use of cannabis is coming to New Jersey. On November 3, 2020, New Jersey voters approved a ballot measure to amend the New Jersey Constitution to, among other things, make lawful the personal, nonmedical use of cannabis for individuals age 21 and over. Effective January 1, 2021, the amendment provides that regulatory authority will be given to the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which already oversees medical marijuana, but that the commission’s authority must be authorized by “law enacted by the Legislature.”
Partners Althea Day, Randall Tracht, and Johnathan Zimmerman authored a Pratt’s Energy Law Report article about the challenges energy companies face as they return to “normal” operations amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
With the US Food and Drug Administration’s first issuance of an Emergency Use Authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine, employers should consider the implications a new vaccine will have on their workplaces. Although much remains speculative, employers can look to the regulation of current vaccines as the basis for their preliminary planning. Those who begin to plan now will be better positioned to navigate the various risks and issues involved.
The United Kingdom has announced a second extension to the country’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) in less than a week. The CJRS will now run until 31 March 2021, with some revised details compared to the previous versions of the scheme.
We invite you to join Morgan Lewis and the Wharton Center for Human Resources for a post-election series of webinars featuring insights from current and former officials of the US federal agencies that regulate the workplace.
There was an important development recently in the US Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) efforts to regulate ERISA plan fiduciaries’ use of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in investment decisionmaking. On October 30, the DOL announced publication of the final version of its proposed Financial Factors in Selecting Plan Investments rule (the Rule). A fact sheet is also available.
Morgan Lewis partner Chai Feldblum spoke with Reuters about the firm’s new workplace government relations and regulation practice. In the article, Chai, one of the group’s co-leaders, discussed how the team is helping clients navigate the widespread regulatory and legal challenges they are facing amid the pandemic.
To alleviate plan sponsor financial burdens during the height of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Section 3608 of the CARES Act delayed the due date for required minimum contributions for defined benefit pension plans otherwise due in 2020.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on October 31 that all travelers from out of state must quarantine for 14 days upon entrance and/or return to New York unless they meet specific exemptions.
The United Kingdom’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended by one month, replicating the furlough measures previously in place April through July.
The UK Financial Conduct Authority recently published Policy Statement 20/12, which sets out the final rules on the extension of the Senior Managers and Certification Regime implementation deadlines for the certification regime and conduct rules.
Morgan Lewis partner Sandra Moser was featured in Bloomberg Law’s Leading Questions series. In the Q&A, Sandra, former chief of the US Department of Justice’s Fraud Section, discussed the firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, the biggest challenge facing white collar practices, and a “war story” from her time at the Fraud Section.
Employers in New Jersey should be aware that a recent executive order mandating safety protocols in the workplace amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic creates complaint mechanisms for whistleblowers, with the potential for significant penalties, including business closure.
Effective immediately, Michigan will require employers to make coronavirus (COVID-19) workplace exposure determinations for all job tasks and procedures, prepare written preparedness and response plans, and implement a series of workplace protections.
Partners Leni Battaglia and Sharon Masling and associate Dan Kadish will present to the members of Philanthropy New York on COVID-19 legal developments and potential return to work issues as workplaces begin to reopen.
The United Kingdom has amended its new job protection scheme to require employees to work 20% of their usual hours in order to receive a government subsidy, and employers that knowingly received money to which they weren’t entitled under the previous job scheme will be subject to penalties.
Morgan Lewis has long attracted high-ranking officials from nearly every major labor and employment federal agency in the United States: the Department of Labor (DOL), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
The UK government has now published a Statement of Changes setting out the rules for the new UK immigration system. Applications under the new system will open on December 1, 2020 for non-EEA nationals. EEA nationals will be eligible to apply from within the United Kingdom from January 1, 2021, and when they apply for entry clearance, it will be granted with effect from January 1, 2021. Irish nationals will not require a visa or permission to work.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expanded its definition of “close contact” to include individuals who spend 15 cumulative minutes within six feet of an individual infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) over a 24-hour period.
Morgan Lewis partner Louise Skinner authored an article for CityWorks that provides guidance for employers about how to best support parents during the pandemic.
Morgan Lewis partner Jonathan Snare was quoted in an article by SHRM about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) clarification on the reporting rules for potential coronavirus (COVID-19) cases at work.
A corporation whose only tie to California is its employees working remotely due to the stay-at-home order will not be considered to be doing business in the state. Similarly, South Carolina has extended its coronavirus (COVID-19) relief period to employers through June 30, 2021.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on October 9 to amend its procedural rules regarding the conciliation process. EEOC is statutorily required to engage in the conciliation process whenever it finds reasonable cause to believe that discrimination has occurred, and it may not commence litigation prior to engaging in the conciliation process.
Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 973 on September 30, which requires private employers in California to submit an annual Pay Data Report to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), with the first report due by March 31, 2021.
The administration has begun taking actions with regard to workplace diversity trainings and representation goals on the basis of race, but clarifies that unconscious bias training is still permissible.
Effective October 8, 2020, the US Department of Labor will determine the prevailing wage for permanent labor certifications and labor condition applications based on a new formula for computing prevailing wage levels, resulting in higher prevailing wage levels for all occupations in the Occupation Employment Statistics wage database.
In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, President Vladimir Putin authorized the heads of Russian regions to determine the lockdown rules depending on the epidemiological situation in a particular territory. In this alert we address the most recent restrictions introduced by the Mayor of Moscow, including new reporting requirements.
An Interim Final Rule, “Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification Program,” issued by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services today will significantly alter and restrict the definition of a specialty occupation for H-1B petition purposes and make other important changes to the H-1B petition process. The rule will take effect 60 days from October 8.
Morgan Lewis partners Craig Bitman, Daniel Kleinman, and Michael Richman and associate Michael Gorman authored a Bloomberg Tax article about the SECURE Act and the US Department of Labor’s proposed regulations for the registration process of pooled plan providers, which was released on September 1, 2020. In the article, they discuss the proposed process, supplemental filings, and what companies need to know next.
Morgan Lewis partners Ami Wynne, Jocelyn Cuttino, Chai Feldblum, and Sharon Perley Masling discussed the need for business leaders to create a workplace culture that instills safety and respect among all employees in a recent Bloomberg Law article.
The UK government has published guidance on the rights of frontier workers under the new immigration system which will take effect on 1 January 2021, when free movement within the European Economic Area and Swiss Economic Area will end.
A bill passed by the New York City Council amends the New York City Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law to align with state law and adds significant notice and damages provisions.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 685 on September 17, enhancing the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health’s (Cal-OSHA’s) enforcement of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection prevention requirements.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 1383 on September 17, greatly expanding employee job protected leave under the California Family Rights Act and New Parent Leave Act.
Morgan Lewis partners and co-directors of Workplace Culture Consulting Chai Feldblum and Sharon Masling authored a Bloomberg Law article about the efforts being made by proactive employers in the wake of the #MeToo movement. In the article, Chai and Sharon discuss emerging themes and best practices.