Pension & Benefits NetNews – May 26, 2020

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Featured This Week

Employee Benefits Management News

  • Employee allegedly fired for COVID-19 self-isolation raises FFCRA estoppel, FMLA claims
  • New DOL FFCRA Q&As address temp workers, joint employers, teleworkers, childcare needs, and more
  • IRS relaxes Sec. 125 plan rules due to COVID-19, increases FSA carryover amount
  • IRS issues 2021 HSA inflation adjustments

Pension Plan Guide News

  • DOL issues COVID-19 FAQs for participants and beneficiaries concerning health and retirement benefits
  • Wilmington bank to pay $80 million to 21 ESOPs it trusteed and $8 million to government under agreement reached with DOL
  • IRS grants tax relief to victims of severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides in Oregon

Employee Benefits Management News

Employee allegedly fired for COVID-19 self-isolation raises FFCRA estoppel, FMLA claims

A wrongful termination lawsuit filed in federal court in Indiana makes an interesting argument that The Kroger Company, even though it’s not a covered employer under the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), was nonetheless estopped from denying an employee 14 days of paid leave covering COVID-19-related self-isolation and symptoms under the company’s own policy, which was represented as aligned with the FFCRA. For more information, see ¶2133O.

        (Read Cheetah) »

New DOL FFCRA Q&As address temp workers, joint employers, teleworkers, childcare needs, and more

The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division has updated its series of questions and answers under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) with new Q&As 89-93. For details, see ¶2133S.

        (Read Cheetah) »

IRS relaxes Sec. 125 plan rules due to COVID-19, increases FSA carryover amount

The IRS has released Notices 2020-29 and 2020-33 to provide flexibility under Sec. 125 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under Notice 2020-29, the IRS provided increased flexibility with respect to 2020 midyear elections under a Code Sec. 125 cafeteria plan related to employer-sponsored health coverage, health flexible spending arrangements (health FSAs), and dependent care assistance programs (DCAPs). The IRS also provided increased flexibility with respect to grace periods. For details, see ¶2133T.

        (Read Cheetah) »

IRS issues 2021 HSA inflation adjustments

The IRS has released the 2021 inflation-adjusted amounts for health savings accounts under Code Sec. 223. For the amounts, see ¶2133Y.

        (Read Cheetah) »

Pension Plan Guide News

DOL issues COVID-19 FAQs for participants and beneficiaries concerning health and retirement benefits

The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued guidance for parties connected to ERISA-covered employee benefit plans that have been adversely affected by the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak. The DOL recognizes that the COVID-19 outbreak may temporarily impede efforts to comply with various requirements and deadlines under ERISA. This DOL guidance generally applies to employee benefit plans, employers, labor organizations, and other plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries, participants and beneficiaries, and service providers subject to ERISA from March 1, 2020, the beginning of the national emergency declared by the President, until 60 days after the announcement of the end of the COVID-19 National Emergency or other date announced by the Department in a future notice. The DOL notes that this guidance has been coordinated with and reviewed by the Department of the Treasury, the IRS, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The DOL has issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to help employee benefit plan participants and beneficiaries, as well as plan sponsors, and employers, impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak understand their rights and responsibilities under Title I of ERISA. The FAQs cover health plan benefits and retirement plan benefits. For more information, see ¶171i.

        (Read Cheetah) »

Wilmington bank to pay $80 million to 21 ESOPs it trusteed and $8 million to government under agreement reached with DOL

The Secretary of Labor has reached an agreement with Wilmington Trust, N.A. – a Delaware-based bank and trust company – requiring Wilmington Trust to pay a combined $80 million to 21 employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) for which it served as trustee and $8 million to the government, and to reimburse plan sponsors of ESOPs for legal costs and expenses advanced in connection with the Secretary’s investigations and litigation. Investigations by the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) found that Wilmington Trust caused losses to the ESOPs when it authorized them to pay more than fair market value for privately held employer stock, a violation of ERISA. Wilmington agreed to settle EBSA’s claims without admitting or denying those allegations. The agreement resolves three lawsuits brought by the Secretary and 18 investigations by EBSA. For more information, see ¶171h.

        (Read Cheetah) »

IRS grants tax relief to victims of severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides in Oregon

The IRS has announced tax relief for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the federal disaster areas of Umatilla County and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon, which were affected by severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides that began on February 5, 2020. The relief extends until July 15, 2020 deadlines for filing various returns, including the filing of Form 5500s, and paying taxes otherwise due during the period of February 5, 2020, and before April 1, 2020. This is in addition to the nationwide Coronavirus-related relief already available to taxpayers on returns, payments and other time-sensitive actions occurring on or after April 1, 2020 and before July 15, 2020. For more information, see ¶171j.

        (Read Cheetah) »

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