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Category Archives: Employee Benefits/ERISA-Related Litigation

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Massachusetts AGO Provides Safe Harbor on New Sick Leave Law

On May 1, 2015, we reported on proposed regulations to the Massachusetts paid sick leave law, which becomes effective on July 1, 2015.  The regulations have not yet been adopted, and in light of the uncertainty about many provisions of the law, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office has issued a “Safe Harbor for Employers with Existing Paid Time Off Policies.”  Under the safe harbor, any employer with a paid time off policy in existence as of May 1, 2015, which provides employees with the right to use at least 30 hours of paid time off per year, will … Continue Reading

Massachusetts Issues Proposed Sick Leave Regulations

As we reported, last November, voters in Massachusetts approved a law granting Massachusetts employees the right to sick leave, starting on July 1, 2015.  The law provides paid sick leave for employers with 11 or more employees and unpaid sick leave for employees with 10 or fewer employees. While the law set forth the basics, many of the details, which have differentiated the various sick leave laws across the country, were not previously specified (e.g., minimum increments of use, frontloading, documentation).  The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (“AGO”) has set forth proposed regulations to guide employers in implementing the upcoming … Continue Reading

April 22 Complimentary Webinar Concerning EEOC Wellness Regulations

To register for this complimentary webinar, please click here.

I’d like to recommend an upcoming complimentary webinar, “EEOC Wellness Regulations – What Do They Mean for Employer-Sponsored Programs? (April 22, 2015, 12:00 p.m. EDT) presented by my Epstein Becker Green colleagues Frank C. Morris, Jr. and Adam C. Solander.

Below is a description of the webinar:

On April 16, 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released its long-awaited proposed regulations governing employer-provided wellness programs under the American’s with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Although the EEOC had not previously issued regulations governing wellness programs, the EEOC has filed … Continue Reading

EEOC Issues Proposed Wellness Program Amendments to ADA Regulations

My colleagues Frank C. Morris, Jr., Adam C. Solander, and August Emil Huelle co-authored a Health Care and Life Sciences Client Alert concerning the EEOC’s proposed amendments to its ADA regulations and it is a topic of interest to many of our readers.

Following is an excerpt:

On April 16, 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released its highly anticipated proposed regulations (to be published in the Federal Register on April 20, 2015, for notice and comment) setting forth the EEOC’s interpretation of the term “voluntary” as to the disability-related inquiries and medical examination provisions of the … Continue Reading

Considerations for Employee Benefit Programs That Benefit Employers and Employees

My colleague Lee T. Polk authored Epstein Becker Green’s recent issue of its Take 5 newsletter.   This Take 5 features five considerations suggesting the advantages of employee benefit plans as programs that are beneficial to both employers and employees.

  1. Tax Aspects of Qualified Retirement Plans Can Save Money For Both Employers and Employees
  2. The Benefits of a Contractual Claims Limitation Period
  3. The Benefits of a Contractual Venue Selection Clause
  4. The Standard of Judicial Review in the Context of Top Hat Plan Benefit Disputes
  5. Fiduciary Exception to the Attorney-Client Privilege in Plan Administration

Read the full newsletter here.… Continue Reading

NYC Affordable Transit Act Passes – Expanding the Right to Pre-Tax Transit Benefits to More New Yorkers

Health care employers doing business in New York City should take note of a new ordinance Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law on October 20, 2014 – The Affordable Transit Act. 

The Affordable Transit Act (the “Act”) requires employers in New York City with 20 or more full-time employees to offer pre-tax transit benefits to employees. The Act allows employees to use up to $130 in tax free money towards their transit costs, which is the current IRS limit.  Full-time employees are defined as employees working an average of 30 hours or more per week. 

Penalties for violating the Continue Reading

Affordable Care Act: What Does My Group Health Plan Need to Cover Without Cost-Sharing?

On February 20, 2013, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and the Treasury (the “Departments”) jointly issued a set of Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”) About Affordable Care Act Implementation (Part XII).  In the latest round of guidance, the Departments addressed the limitations on cost-sharing and the coverage of preventive services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (the “Affordable Care Act”).  This guidance applies only to non-grandfathered group health plans.  Large employers should be aware of these significant changes to the provision of health … Continue Reading

Affordable Care Act Webinar, January 9 – To Pay or To Play: An Analysis of the Shared Responsibility Rules

Please join Epstein Becker Green’s Health Care & Life Sciences and Labor & Employment practitioners as we continue to review the Affordable Care Act and its ongoing impact on employers and their group health plans.

In less than a year, employers employing at least 50 full-time employees will be subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions. Under these provisions, if employers do not offer health coverage or do not offer affordable health coverage that provides a minimum level of value to their full-time employees, they may be subject to a tax penalty under the proposed regulations just issued by the … Continue Reading

Hurricane Sandy: Tax and Employee Benefits Relief Available to Employers

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, employers with employees and operations impacted by Hurricane Sandy are asking what types of tax and employee benefits relief may be available to them and their affected employees.  The Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), the Department of Labor (“DOL”) and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (“PBGC”) have moved quickly to provide disaster relief guidance for affected employers and their employees.

IRS Relief.  In response to Hurricane Sandy, on November 2, 2012, the IRS in IR-2012-84 declared Hurricane Sandy a “qualified disaster” for federal income tax purposes under Section 139 of the Internal Revenue Code of … Continue Reading

Obama Reelected: The Department of Labor Wants to Know If You Are Taking Steps to Comply With Healthcare Reform

By Amy J. Traub, Gretchen Harders, Anna Kolontyrsky, and Margaret C. Thering

With the reelection of President Obama, it is clear that employers should be preparing to comply with all of the applicable provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (the “Affordable Care Act”).  As employers well know, the Affordable Care Act contains comprehensive healthcare reform provisions, including, among other things, the mandate that larger employers face penalties starting in 2014 if they do not make affordable healthcare coverage available to their workers, the so-called … Continue Reading

Important New Guidance for Employers under the Affordable Care Act on the Employer Shared Responsibility Penalties and the 90-Day Waiting Period Limitation

On August 31, 2012, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), along with the Department of the Treasury, Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), issued guidance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (the “Affordable Care Act”) on the application of the employer responsibility standards to large employers (the employer “play or pay” mandate), IRS Notice 2012-58 , and the 90-day limit on waiting periods for group health coverage, IRS Notice 2012-59, DOL Technical Release 2012-02, HHS Bulletin.  This guidance provides important … Continue Reading

Avoiding Legal Pitfalls When Employing Licensed Healthcare Professionals

By Maxine Neuhauser

It’s no secret that the business of healthcare is growing exponentially.  Health insurance coverage is expanding and with it enhanced funding for health-related initiatives. Business models continue to evolve beyond the traditional healthcare delivery systems.   Corporately managed healthcare and dental practices are growing.

Corporate wellness programs to combat rising insurance costs are increasingly in vogue. Massachusetts’s recently enacted healthcare cost containment law provides employers with a “wellness tax credit” of up to $10,000  for adopting programs to combat preventable chronic diseases such as, obesity, diabetes, and asthma.

As many have noted, however along with the opportunities, … Continue Reading

Rates of Employer-Sponsored Health Care Coverage Continue to Fall

In May 2012, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (“EBRI”) issued a report showing that the percentage of workers covered by employer-sponsored health care coverage (measured through April 2011) continued to fall despite improvement in the economy.  Employer-sponsored health care coverage is the most common source of health care coverage for workers who exceed the poverty line and who are not yet eligible for Medicare.  It covers approximately 69% of workers, 46% of non-working adults and 55% of children.

The EBRI report notes that there is a generally recognized link between unemployment rates and employer-sponsored health care coverage.  This can be … Continue Reading

Introducing the Benefits Litigation Update

We are pleased to announce the release of the inaugural edition of the quarterly Benefits Litigation Update (“Update”) – a joint project between Epstein Becker Green and The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC), a non-profit association committed to representing the advancement of the employee retirement, health, and compensation plans of America’s largest employers.

The Update is a quarterly publication which provides two primary components:

  1. a Featured Article addressing a trend or topic currently being discussed in the benefits community which (i) explains why the topic is important, (ii) explains the impact of the topic on the reader, and (iii) proposes some
Continue Reading

Poorly Crafted Wellness Programs Could Make Employers Sick

Kara Maciel, Member of the Epstein Becker Green Labor and Employment, Litigation, and Health Care and Life Sciences  Practices, was recently interviewed by Employment Law360 concerning employer wellness programs. 

According to the article, businesses are turning to wellness programs to curb health care expenses, but programs that aren’t carefully crafted can open employers up to costly privacy and discrimination litigation, attorneys say.  Wellness programs can lead to big savings for employers by targeting behaviors that can cause  conditions that drive up their health care expenditures. But programs that give employers too much  information about their employees can leave employers vulnerable … Continue Reading

Retirement Plans: New Effective Dates for Service Provider and Participant-Level Fee Disclosures

On February 2, 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued final regulations under Section 408(b)(2) of ERISA (the “Final 408(b)(2) Regulations”), which requires “covered service providers” to disclose to “responsible plan fiduciaries” (including employer plan sponsors and plan administrators) certain direct and indirect compensation they receive in connection with the services that they provide to a plan.  These regulations are part of the DOL’s initiative to increase transparency for plan fiduciaries and participants of fees and costs associated with retirement plans.  Another piece of the DOL’s initiative are final regulations under Section 404(a) of ERISA, which require fiduciaries of … Continue Reading

New York Home Care Worker Wage Parity Act Takes Effect on March 1, 2012

 Medicaid home care aide services providers need to act quickly to avoid the risk of non-payment for services.  The New York State Home Care Worker Parity Act, Public Health Law § 3614-c, establishes minimum “total compensation” requirements for “home care aides” who perform Medicaid-reimbursed work for certified home health agencies (“CHHAs”), long term home health care programs (“LTHHCPs”) and managed care plans (“MCPs”).  The Act applies to both mainstream managed care plans and all forms of managed long term care plans, and also affects licensed and limited licensed home health care services agencies to the extent that they contract … Continue Reading

U.S. Department of Labor Cracks Down on MEWAs

On December 6, 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued a proposed rule on Form M-1 filing requirements, a proposed rule on DOL ex parte cease and desist orders, a notice of proposed form revision to Form M-1 and a notice of proposed form revision to Form 5500  implementing new requirements for multiple employer welfare arrangements (“MEWAs”) under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”) (referred to as the “Proposed Rules”).  PPACA prohibits false statements or representations of fact about a MEWA’s financial condition, benefits provided and its regulatory status in connection with the marketing of … Continue Reading

Health Care M&A: Unwary Asset Purchasers May Take On Unwanted Employment-Related Liabilities.

Acquirers of businesses often prefer to buy the assets of a seller, rather than the stock, to avoid assuming the seller’s liabilities.  Indeed,  the general common law rule is that a purchaser of assets does not assume the seller’s liabilities absent an agreement to do so, fraud or other inequitable conduct between the parties, whereas in a stock sale, the buyer steps into the shoes of the seller and assumes all assets and liabilities of the seller.  In an asset sale, the seller, in turn, would typically use part or all of the sale proceeds to pay its liabilities.  During … Continue Reading