Author Archives: smithamundsen

So Your Employee Wants to Work Remotely Out of State

Contributed by John R. Hayes, March 8, 2021

Work Remotely memo stick. Laptop for remote job.

Given the “new normal” of remote work for many employees throughout the country, the question as to whether to allow an employee to work in another state – either permanently or temporarily – has become something employers are now scrambling to answer.  However, it is not as simple as determining whether the employee can do the work remotely, there are numerous considerations and implications employers should be aware of if they have employees working in a different state than the location of their main operations. 

First, employers should have clear guidelines and policies regarding what is expected of the employee in terms of hours, availability, and work product. That is true wherever they are remotely located. Some general areas to consider include:

  • Detailing their normal work duties and responsibilities;
  • Making clear the hours of work the employee is expected to put in along with strict adherence to any timekeeping policies;
  • Setting the hours of availability to communicate regarding company business and job duties;
  • Determining how to handle communication of work assignments and personal needs, including reporting absences of work due to injury, illness, or caring for a family member;
  • Discussing the use of company equipment and materials;
  • Ensuring the employee protects company information by following the company’s policies and practices regarding information security and data protection; ensure that unauthorized individuals do not access company data, either in print or electronically; and not accessing restricted-level information in print or electronically unless approved by the supervisor; and
  • Maintaining a safe environment in which to work.

Next, for employees wanting to work out of state either all the time or for a period of time, there are potential tax and payroll issues for both the employee and the employer. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all answer. It will depend on the state the individual is performing work in, how long they are there, and a host of other factors.  When an employee is working outside of the state where the employer operates the employer may be responsible for the other state’s taxes, including income taxes. Each state’s income tax and withholding requirements vary significantly, and may be based on both personal residence and/or work location. Making it even more complicated, states have differing thresholds for when an individual working remotely in that state triggers tax implications, for example in Illinois it is 30 days and in New York it is 14 days.

COVID-19 related remote work has dramatically impacted this area of the law, as it has exponentially increased the numbers of employees working in a different state than where the employer is located or where they reside, and many states have been slow to adjust to this. However, several states have implemented “COVID-19 Rules” regarding the tax implications for remote workers. Again, this is a state-by-state analysis that needs to be done by the employer for each employee wishing to work remotely out of state. 

In addition to state and local taxes, the labor and employment laws of the state where a remote employee is working may apply to the employment relationship.  An employer needs to examine the state’s (and possibly the county’s and/or the city’s) employment laws to see whether there are specific laws that would affect the employee, such as posting requirements and paid family or sick leave, amongst others.

Employers should also be aware of state laws regarding workers’ compensation insurance and unemployment insurance. Employers usually must obtain workers’ compensation insurance in the state where the employee is actually working. It may be the case that the workers’ compensation laws in the employer’s state would not apply to the employee working remotely in another state. The same also applies to unemployment insurance, where the out of state employee would likely trigger the state’s requirements that the employer register for and pay the unemployment insurance premiums through that state’s particular unemployment insurance program.

Ultimately, the decision to allow remote location work is up to the employer and depends on the particular facts and circumstances of each employment situation.  Given the complexity of having to figure out other states’ employment, tax, and other state-specific laws, employers may be justified in saying no to such arrangements.  The answer really depends on the employer’s desire to hire/retain the individual, and whether remote work is a means to that end.  And once such a remote work arrangement is granted to one employee, employers must be mindful in granting/denying it to others, as allowing it for one employee but denying it to another could potentially be considered discriminatory, depending on the facts of each situation.

Any remote work arrangement should be carefully considered in advance, a written policy and understanding between the employer and employee should be put in place, and the particular laws of the remote work location should be examined and understood, ideally by experienced counsel.

Complimentary Webcast Series –The Biden Administration: What Businesses Need to Know

The Biden administration is signaling significant policy shifts. Business owners and C-Suite executives are encouraged to join us for a series of complimentary webcasts discussing these likely changes and how they will impact your business.

The webcast series takes place on Wednesdays March 17, March 31, and April 14 at noon CT. 

Note: slides from the webcasts will be sent to attendees after each session.

Yes, Even Vaccinated Employees Must Continue Wearing Masks

Contributed by Peter Hansen, March 3, 2021

Vector attention sign, please wear face mask, in flat style

Now that COVID-19 vaccines are starting to roll out, employees who have been vaccinated are beginning to question whether they are still required to wear face masks, practice social distancing, etc.  In short, yes they are – according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, along with numerous state agencies, “it is important to wear a face covering and remain physically distant from co-workers and customers even if you have been vaccinated because it is not known at this time how vaccination affects transmissibility.”

So, the same workplace protocols apply to vaccinated and unvaccinated employees, with one very limited exception: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance providing that vaccinated employees who were exposed to someone with COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • The employee is fully vaccinated (i.e., 2 or more weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or one dose of a single-dose vaccine);
  • The exposure occurred within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series; and
  • The employee has remained asymptomatic since the COVID-19 exposure

Accordingly, employers should continue enforcing their existing workplace COVID-19 protocols – and reiterate to their entire workforce that all employees are still required to wear masks, practice social distancing, and report exposure to COVID-19 regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.

Of course, and as with everything else surrounding COVID-19, vaccine-related information available and protocols regarding vaccinated employees is subject to change, so stay tuned.

IRS Issues Final Section 162(m) Regulations on Companies’ Ability to Deduct Executive Pay

Contributed by Kelly Haab-Tallitsch, March 2, 2021

Cut tax with scissor isolated on white, 3D rendering

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently published final regulations implementing changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) to Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code (Section 162(m)) expanding the scope of Section 162(m)’s compensation tax deduction limitation. Publicly held companies that already exceed or that may soon exceed the Section 162(m) $1 million deduction limit will need to carefully consider the impact of amended Section 162(m).

Section 162(m) generally disallows a tax deduction for compensation paid in excess of $1 million in any taxable year to certain current and former executive officers (“Covered Employees”) of publicly held corporations. Prior to the TCJA, payments of qualified performance-based compensation made to covered employees were exempt from the $1 million annual limitation. The TCJA eliminated this exemption for performance-based compensation and expanded the scope of entities and individuals covered by Section 162(m). However, the TCJA includes an important transition rule under which the changes made to Section 162(m) do not apply to certain “grandfathered” arrangements. The final regulations provide further details and clarification. Key provisions are highlighted below.

Relief for New Public Corporations Eliminated.

Prior to the TCJA, special transition relief was available to newly public corporations. Compensation paid under arrangements that pre-dated the corporation’s initial public offering (IPO) and were disclosed to prospective shareholders was exempt from Section 162(m)’s deduction limitation for a limited period following an IPO. The final regulations eliminate this transition relief for corporations that became publicly-traded after December 20, 2019.

Scope of Individuals Covered Expanded.

The TCJA significantly expanded the scope of individuals covered by Section 162(m). Under Section 162(m) as amended, Covered Employees include the CEO, CFO and three other most highly compensated executive officers of a public company. Any employee who served as the CEO or CFO at any time during the year is a Covered Employee and an employee does not need to be employed by the company at year-end to qualify as a Covered Employee (unlike pre-TCJA  days). Any employee who was a Covered Employee for any taxable year beginning after December 31, 2016 continues to be a Covered Employee, meaning once an executive officer qualifies as a Covered Employee, he or she will continue to be treated as a Covered Employee under Section 162(m) indefinitely.

The final regulations further expanded the number of individuals covered by providing that an individual who was a Covered Employee of any predecessor to a publicly held corporation continues to be a Covered Employee of the corporation indefinitely.

Grandfathering Rules Further Clarified.

The changes made to Section 162(m) by the TCJA do not apply to compensation payable under a “written binding contract” that was in effect on November 2, 2017 and not materially modified after that date (the “Grandfather Rule”). The final regulations provide the following clarifications:

  • A compensation arrangement that allows a company to exercise negative discretion to reduce an amount payable under an objective formula does not qualify for the Grandfather Rule (even if no changes or modifications are made to the arrangement).
  • The existence of a clawback provision in a compensation arrangement giving a corporation the right to recover compensation if certain conditions occur does not affect the arrangement’s grandfathered status. Further, a corporation’s exercise of its right to recover compensation is not considered a material modification under the Grandfather Rule.
  • The extension of the exercise period of otherwise grandfathered Stock Options and Stock Appreciation Rights will not result in loss of grandfathered status if the extension complies with Code Section 409A. Generally, an extension complies with Section 409A if: (i) at the time of the extension the exercise price exceeds the fair market value of the underlying stock, and (ii) the  exercise period is extended to a date no later than the earlier of (1) the original expiration date of the Stock Option/SAR, or (2) the 10th anniversary of the original grant date.

Applicability Dates

In general, the final regulations apply to taxable years beginning on or after December 30, 2020, but certain provisions have earlier effective dates such as the clarifications to the Grandfathered Rule and definition of Covered Employee.  

H-1B Filing Season: Time to Review Visa Status Expirations for Foreign National Employees

Contributed by Jacqueline Lentini McCullough, March 1, 2021

USA visa in a passport – travel background

With H-1B season upon us, it is time to review the visa status expirations for foreign national employees. There may be some who will need to change visa status to H-1B for continued employment with your company. For example, an F-1 international student who is employed based on his/her optional practical training may need H-1B sponsorship. Now is the time to see if anyone will need assistance with an H-1B petition. 

As you know, last year USCIS implemented a new electronic registration system for employers seeking to file H-1B cap-subject petitions for their foreign national employees. If your company already has an account in the my.USCIS.gov database, you will only need to register any new foreign nationals for purposes of being selected to file an H-1B petition during the registration period. The registration period begins March 9th and closes March 25, 2021. Once the registration period is over, USCIS will then run a random selection process on those electronic registrations. Only those with selected registrations will be eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions. Following the selection process, employers will have a 90-day window to file  a petition for each registration selected. If insufficient H-1B cap-subject petitions are received by USCIS from the initial selected registrations then they may conduct a second lottery as was done in August 2020.

As we get closer to the H-1B registration dates, we will provide further guidance on the process of registering your foreign nationals. In order to meet the registration deadline, it is important to assess who among your foreign nationals will need a change of status to H-1B and will need to be registered in the government system as soon as possible.

URGENT: Workers Can Refuse Work and Receive Unemployment Benefits Due to COVID-19

Contributed by Steven Jados, February 26, 2021

unemployment claim form on desk

On February 25, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced three new categories of individuals eligible to collect federally-funded unemployment benefits as the COVID-19 Pandemic continues.  They are:

  • Individuals who refuse to return to work that is unsafe or to accept an offer of new work that is unsafe;
  • Certain individuals providing services to educational institutions or educational services agencies; and
  • Individuals experiencing a reduction of hours or a temporary or permanent lay-off.

These changes are expected to take effect in late March, but could take longer to take hold as each state must adopt and administer to this new guidance in order to receive the additional federal COVID-19 specific funding.

Focusing on the first category, it essentially creates an additional “good cause” reason for an employee to refuse work, but remain eligible for unemployment benefits in situations in which “[t]he individual has been denied continued unemployment benefits because the individual refused to return to work or accept an offer of work at a worksite that, in either instance, is not in compliance with local, state, or national health and safety standards directly related to COVID-19.  This includes, but is not limited to, those related to facial mask wearing, physical distancing measures, or the provision of personal protective equipment consistent with public health guidelines.”

In order to obtain benefits under this provision, the DOL requires individuals to attest, under penalty of perjury, that they have been denied continued unemployment because they “refused to return to work or accept an offer of work at a worksite that, in either instance, is not in compliance with local, state, or national health and safety standards directly related to COVID-19.  This includes but is not limited to, those related to facial mask wearing, physical distancing measures, or the provision of personal protective equipment consistent with public health guidelines.” 

It is unclear exactly how it would be possible for, e.g., an applicant who never set foot on a worksite or an employee who had not been in the workplace since pandemic-related changes were implemented to credibly complete the attestation.

Beyond the attestation under perjury, specific standards and requirements will largely be left to the states.  Many states previously made clear that a generalized fear of COVID-19 in the workplace was an insufficient basis to refuse work and still receive unemployment benefits, and we anticipate many states will continue to require more than generalized fears when determining eligibility under this new DOL category.

The task for employers in light of this expansion is to demonstrate the safety and security of the workplace from a COVID-19 prevention and mitigation perspective.  Step one in that regard is, of course, to ensure that the business has enacted policies and procedures in-line with the most up-to-date guidance from the CDC and other federal, state, and local agencies.  Step two is to make clear to employees (1) what steps have been taken to improve health security in the workplace; (2) the fact that the business is vigilantly monitoring CDC and public health guidance and is ready to implement further protections in accordance with that guidance; and (3) that employees should feel free to express their questions and concerns to management regarding COVID-19 safety in the workplace without fear of adverse consequences or retaliation. This can take the form of e-mailed announcements and bulletin board postings for current employees. 

But for employees away from work because of pandemic-related concerns, more formal, written correspondence aimed at communicating how the business has directly resolved the employee’s concerns may be appropriate.  As always, we recommend drafting such correspondence with an eye toward an interactive process between the business and employee—and with guidance from experienced counsel. 

PREVAILING WAGE REMINDER: Local, State and Federal Prevailing Wage Obligations Vary Greatly

Contributed by Jeffrey A. Risch, February 25, 2021 – www.illinoisprevailingwage.com

Contractors, developers, architects, owners, project managers and even public bodies often ask the same obvious question when dealing with any type of prevailing wage ordinance or law, “what are my obligations?”  While everyone involved in public construction projects want to comply with prevailing wage mandates, more often than not those involved in such projects are either oblivious to their responsibilities or are mistaken in their belief as to such responsibilities. This is not surprising in light of the great variance in prevailing wage laws, related rules and interpretations of such rules and laws on a local, state and federal level.  It’s unfortunate that there is no set standard or guidebook on the subject. And, that’s the point of this alert! 

What a GC or subcontractor must do under California’s prevailing wage law is entirely different with respect to Illinois law. Likewise, what a developer or owner needs to ensure on a prevailing wage project under Ohio law is different than pursuant to New York mandates. There are also great variations in the types of forms required (including the certified transcript of payroll), written notifications and/or legal disclaimers, contract provisions, wage and fringe benefit responsibilities, actual rate determinations per trade and area, potential liabilities and actual compliance standards. These variations are controlled on a local and state level where prevailing wage requirements still exist.  For a summary of where state prevailing wage mandates still are in play, the U.S. Department of Labor’s quick summary is quite helpful:

Of course, federal prevailing laws (aka Davis Bacon & Related Acts – “DBRA”) must also be recognized.  While the general procedures and processes on federal DBRA projects are the same, what a particular federal contracting or financing agency will require can differ from agency to agency. 

With the above in mind, there are 7 basic rules for anyone dealing with construction projects that are financed, owned, controlled or benefiting (in whole or in part) a local, state or federal government agency or body:

  1. Know your legal obligations under any and every local, state or federal prevailing wage ordinance/law that applies to your business (note: what’s permissible under Federal Davis-Bacon may be unlawful under the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act);
  2. Ensure your business is complying with all applicable prevailing wage obligations for every worker, every day, every week, every job and utilize the certified transcript of payroll form required by the government agency or body at issue (i.e. don’t use the DBRA CTP form for local or state projects);
  3. Never allow a prevailing wage audit or investigation  to be closed or remain in limbo without some document that confirms your full compliance with your legal obligations (note: you may have to do this yourself by letter to the auditor or agency at issue);
  4. Never sign any settlement agreement concerning prevailing wage issues without first reviewing it with competent legal counsel to help ensure that no admission of liability or guilt is made and to expressly state that you are free and clear to bid and perform future public construction work;
  5. Educate your local units of government on who you are and highlight your good name and business reputation — get to know the public officials, get involved and form business relationships;
  6. Review your purchase orders, bid specifications and contracts to incorporate necessary prevailing wage notice obligations as well as certain disclaimers to ensure proper and/or mandatory notice obligations are in place; and
  7. Don’t rely entirely on a governmental agency’s internal staff or published FAQ’s or interpretive guidance on prevailing wage obligations — some are flat-out wrong and some don’t necessarily supply the most accurate information needed.

Prevailing wage audit and enforcement is becoming increasingly aggressive throughout much of the United States.  Any individual, business, contractor, developer, owner, architect, project manager or public body not intimately familiar and comfortable with applicable prevailing wage obligations is playing a dangerous game that could have a serious short and long term financial impact. 

Check Local and State Health Department Rules: Some Require Reporting of COVID-19 Cases

Contributed by Peter Hansen, Michael Wong and Sara Zorich, February 23, 2020

COVID-19 Screening Questionnaire form with medical mask and a pen on it.

A question that employers often ask when someone in the workplace reports COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test is, who is the employer required to notify? Typically common sense and CDC guidelines have been that employers must engage in contact tracing and notify individuals who were in “close contact” with the person. In recent months and weeks, local and state departments of public health have continued to issue guidance, and mandates, that employers must also identify and observe and sometimes try to interpret despite conflicting statements.

For example, in December 2020, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) revised its regulations to add COVID-19, SARS and MERS to the list of Class I(a) diseases that “shall be reported immediately (within three hours) by telephone, upon initial clinical suspicion of disease to the local health authority, which shall then report to the IDPH immediately (within three hours.) Ill. Admin. Code tit. 77, § 690.100. For context, Class I(a) diseases include Anthrax, Plague, Smallpox, and suspected bioterrorist threats or events. The reporting of Class I(a) diseases has historically been the responsibility of the hospital, physician or medical provider who treats or confirms an individual’s positive tests result for such a disease. However, the applicable regulation does have a catchall provision that places reporting responsibility on “Any other person having knowledge of a known or suspected case or carrier of a reportable communicable disease or communicable disease death.” Ill. Admin. Code tit. 77, § 690.200.  Taken together, these provisions arguably require employers who know of a “known or suspected case” of COVID-19 to immediately report the information to their local health authority.

To further complicate the matter, the IDPH updated its “Guidance for Employers and Employees on Workers’ Rights and Safety” webpage on or about January 7, 2021 to state the following:

“If two or more employees report having COVID-19 related symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, the employer must notify their local health department within 24 hours of being informed of the presence of COVID-19 symptoms or positive test results.”

This is a pretty significant change as it modifies the reporting from voluntary to mandatory and is unclear regarding the time period for the two cases occurring (e.g. whether it is two cases over 14 days, two months, or since March 2020). That said, under CDC guidelines for contact tracing and the guidelines of some local public health departments it is reasonable to view the applicable time period for determining whether reporting is required under IDPH regulations as a 14 day period.

To add further confusion, local public health departments may have a higher or lower standard. For example, the City of Chicago and Kane County, Illinois health departments still advise businesses that they may voluntarily report employees with symptoms or confirmed cases, but are not required to do so. While in others areas, like Winnebago County, Illinois, the local health department is telling employers that they are required to report when one (1) or more employee develops COVID-19 symptoms or receives a positive test result, and are requiring employers to submit information regarding their businesses and the individual(s) at issue (including their symptoms and demographics).

Ultimately, no matter the standard for reporting, the employer is required to cooperate with local public health authorities in the investigation of cases, suspect cases, outbreaks and suspect outbreaks. This is fairly consistent throughout the United States.

What happens if you do not comply with reporting or an investigation? – It depends on the state and local laws and regulations regarding the violations of public health laws, but generally violations can result in fines, criminal charges and even result in a business being temporarily closed down. For example, under Illinois law, failure to comply may result in a Class A misdemeanor and the IDPH and local health department have the ability to order a business be closed if it deems immediate action is required to protect the public.

BUT WHAT DOES THIS MEAN WITHOUT THE LEGALESE?

  1. Employers MUST be aware of what requirements or guidance their local public health department has regarding reporting cases of COVID-19 AND should take steps to comply with both the state and local requirement regarding reporting when employees are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.
  2. Documentation through COVID-19 Questionnaires for employees who report symptoms will become even more important. Questionnaires should include questions not only about what symptoms an employee has, but where the employee has been in the last 14 days; whether the employee or family members have interacted with individuals outside of their home for more than a cumulative 15 minutes in a 24 hour period; whether the employee or family members have visited stores or other locations within 10 or more people; etc.
  3. Employers should recognize the potential risks, which may include fines, criminal prosecution and even being shut down, when responding to state and local public health departments’ requests for additional information and investigations. Any concerns should be vetted through competent risk management consultants and experienced legal counsel.

Employers with Employees in California, Are You Ready to Report Your EEO Pay Data?

Contributed by Sara Zorich, February 19, 2021

State of California

In follow up to our previous blog, the March 31, 2021 deadline is quickly approaching for employers to provide their California Pay Data Report to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Required reporting applies to private employers who meet the following three (3) requirements: (1) 100 or more total employees, (2) required to file a federal EEO-1 report and (3) at least 1 employee in California. 

DFEH recently updated its FAQ’s related to the California EEO reporting requirements.  The FAQ’s, along with DFEH’s User Guide, make it clear that employers must carefully review their reporting requirements and data for submission. The DFEH User Guide notes that the California requirements are NOT the same as the previous EEOC proposed rules or the current Federal EEO-1 reporting requirements. The California Pay Data Report requirements have a number of significant differences employers must be aware of, for example:

  • Non-binary employees must be reported in California in the same manner as male and female employees.
  • An employee’s pay is reported from W-2 Box 5.
  • An employee’s hours worked in 2020 includes any hours the employee was on any form of paid time off for which the employee was paid by the employer (such as vacation time, sick time, or holiday time) during 2020.
  • Multiple-establishment employers must report all establishments, including those with fewer than 50 employees, in the same manner by providing the number of employees and total hours worked for each employee group assigned to the establishment. For example, for multiple-establishment employers with establishments inside and outside of California, the employer: (A) must report to DFEH on its California establishments, all of its employees assigned to those establishments (including any employees outside of California) whether or not teleworking, and any other California employee (including those teleworking from California but assigned to an establishment outside of California); and (B) may report to DFEH on its establishments and employees not covered by (A).
  • If an employee’s W-2 is corrected after the employer submits its California Pay Data Report to DFEH, and the correction would put the employee in a different pay band than originally reported or would otherwise require a correction on the employer’s report, the employer should promptly submit a corrected pay data report, identifying the corrected cells and explaining the correction in the remarks field(s).

As stated, the California Pay Data Report must be submitted by March 31, 2021.  In light of COVID-19, DFEH is allowing an employer to request a deferral of enforcement and if approved DFEH is providing the employer until April 30, 2021 to file its Pay Data Report. All requests for such deferral of enforcement must be filed with DFEH) no later than March 31, 2021.

In light of these new California reporting requirements and the similar currently pending legislation in Illinois, employers should proactively review and understand how their pay data would appear should they be investigated for pay disparity claims.

What President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Could Mean for Employers

Contributed by Suzannah Wilson Overholt, February 17, 2020

COVID-19 stimulus package, US dollar cash banknote on American flag

Congress is turning its attention to President Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package, which is called the American Rescue Plan.  Because the package includes enhanced unemployment benefits that are currently set to lapse in mid-March, Congress is under pressure to take action by then.

The following aspects of the proposal have a specific impact on employers:

  • Restoration and expansion of emergency paid leave
    • President Biden has proposed reinstating and expanding the paid sick and family leave benefits passed as part of the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) which expired in December. The proposal would reinstate those leave provisions through September. (Read more about the FFCRA leave requirements in our previous blog from March 2020).
    • The proposal expands the leave requirements to cover businesses with fewer than 50 and more than 500 employees, as well as first responders and healthcare workers, who could be exempted from the original leave requirements.  (The proposal would also grant leave to federal workers.) 
    • The government will reimburse employers with fewer than 500 workers for the full cost of providing the leave.
  • Restaurant industry:  The proposal includes the FEMA Empowering Essential Deliveries (FEED) Act that uses the restaurant industry to get food to families in need and helps get laid-off restaurant workers back to work. 
  • Minimum wage:  President Biden’s proposal includes raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour over four years and ending the tipped minimum wage and the sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities. Whether this will actually be considered by Congress as part of the stimulus package is uncertain.
  • Worker safety:  The proposal includes provisions regarding worker safety, which we addressed in a previous blog

Other aspects of the proposal that, while not being specifically workplace related, have an impact on workplace issues are as follows:

  • Vaccines and testing:  The proposal seeks $160 billion for vaccines, testing and related programs to fight COVID-19.  It includes $20 billion for a national vaccination program and $50 billion for testing.  Part of the funding would be directed to hiring public health workers to help administer vaccines and tests.  The goal would be for more people to be vaccinated faster, which should allow more employees to return to work and more businesses to re-open.
  • Extension of pandemic unemployment programs
    • President Biden has proposed increasing federal supplemental unemployment assistance by $100 a week, making it $400 a week instead of the $300 a week that Congress approved in December. 
    • The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which applies to those who have exhausted their regular state jobless payments, and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides benefits to the self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers and certain people affected by the pandemic, would both be extended.
    • These payments and programs would be extended through September. Currently, they are set to expire in mid-March.
  • Child care: President Biden’s proposal creates an emergency stabilization fund for child care providers to allow them to re-open and stay open. It also contains additional funding to assist families with child care expenses. 

We will provide updates about the status of these proposals as they work their way through Congress.