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News Brief headerOn Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) Clarified What “Close Contact” Means As It Relates To COVID-19-Prevention Guidance.

Previously, the CDC defined close contact as spending 15 straight minutes within 6 feet of another person. Now, the organization redefined the term to mean a total of 15 minutes within a 24-hour period. That means short, repeated contacts throughout the day count toward that 15-minute threshold.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Upturned Everything This Year. So, It’s Understandable If You Are A Little Less Prepared For Open Enrollment At This Point. However, There’s Still Time To Address Open Enrollment With Employees In Meaningful Ways. Doing So Will Help Them Get The Most From Their Benefits, Which Are Especially Valuable In These Uncertain Times.

This article outlines a few last-minute strategies for maximizing open enrollment for your employees.

On Oct. 2, 2020, The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Issued Notice 2020-76 To:

  • Extend the due date for furnishing forms under Sections 6055 and 6056 for 2020 from Feb. 1, 2021, to March 2, 2021; and
  • Provide a final extension of good-faith transition relief from penalties related to 2020 information reporting under Sections 6055 and 6056; and
  • Provide additional penalty relief related to furnishing 2020 forms to individuals under Section 6055. Under this relief, employers will only have to provide Form 1095-B to covered individuals upon request.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Released Final 2020 Forms And Instructions For Reporting Under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Sections 6055 And 6056.

  • 2020 Form 1094-B and Form 1095-B (and related instructions) will be used by providers of minimum essential coverage (MEC), including self-insured plan sponsors that are not ALEs, to report under Section 6055.
  • 2020 Form 1094-C and Form 1095-C (and related instructions) will be used by applicable large employers (ALEs) to report under Section 6056, as well as for combined Section 6055 and 6056 reporting by ALEs who sponsor self-insured plans.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Released Draft 2020 Instructions Related To Forms For Reporting Under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Sections 6055 And 6056. Draft Forms For This Reporting Were Released In July 2020.

  • 2020 draft Forms 1094-Band 1095-B and related draft instructions will be used by providers of minimum essential coverage (MEC), including self-insured plan sponsors that are not ALEs, to report under Section 6055.
  • 2020 draft Forms 1094-Cand 1095-C and related draft instructions will be used by applicable large employers (ALEs) to report under Section 6056, as well as for combined Section 6055 and 6056 reporting by ALEs who sponsor self-insured plans.

Legal Update HeaderOn Sept. 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) extended its COVID-19 drug and alcohol testing guidance to Dec. 31, 2020.

The extended guidance allows substance abuse professionals (SAPs) to perform remote assessments and evaluations and lengthens the requalification timeline for service agents through the end of the year. This guidance provides SAPs and other service agents with the flexibility they need to help employers comply with existing DOT drug and alcohol regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

News Brief headerIn a recent call with U.S. governors, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield warned that small gatherings are increasingly becoming a source for COVID-19 infections.

Redfield said that, importantly, there is a higher degree of vigilance and mitigation steps in many jurisdictions. However, the spread of infection specifically through small household gatherings is currently an “increasing threat,” as the CDC reports that many states are seeing increases in COVID-19 cases. The CDC is focusing its attention on small gatherings as experts warn of the potential for a surge in COVID-19 cases over the winter.

Trends at a glance headerWhat Is Self-funding? An employer has a self-funded (or self-insured) group health plan if the employer assumes the financial risk associated with providing health care benefits to its employees.

Rather than paying fixed premiums to an insurance company—which, in turn, assumes the financial risk— pays for medical claims out of pocket as they are incurred. | | |

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed many aspects of the modern workplace—and some of those changes may continue in perpetuity after the pandemic is over. One aspect that falls into this category is paid leave programs.

Many employers across the country are changing paid leave programs to comply with applicable federal, state or local guidelines during the pandemic and support employees through these challenging times. In fact, according to data from Mercer, 49% of surveyed employers have adjusted their sick leave programs due to COVID-19-related absences and about 12% have expanded employees’ time off to show their appreciation.