Regulatory Roundup December 2021January 21, 2022
December left 2021 on a high note, with updates to the OSHA ETS and several new year-end tax laws and bills at the federal, state, and local levels.
December was an active month for state, federal, and year-end legislation. Ring in the new year with a recap on updates regarding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), pauses on student loan payments, new bills and tax laws, and more in our Regulatory Roundup.
Decisions on OSHA ETS and Student Loans
Top of mind for many HR and payroll professionals is the status of the OSHA ETS on COVID-19 vaccination and testing. After a series of rulings, the ETS is not currently being enforced for most companies except for a subset in the healthcare sector and those who choose to create their own internal policies. On December 17, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit lifted the stay on the ETS placed in November by the 5th Circuit. The decision dissolved the injunction that blocked OSHA from implementing and enforcing the ETS but was not a final decision regarding legality. But on January 13, 2022, the Supreme Court for the United States (SCOUTS) issued an order blocking the OSHA private ETS from being enforced. In a separate ruling, SCOTUS lifted stays from lower courts that blocked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) vaccine mandate for certain health care workers, meaning its requirements are now enforceable nationwide.
Another announcement set to impact many Americans was an extension of the pause on student loan repayment, interest, and collections until May 1, 2022. The U.S. Department of Education will release additional information about planning for repayment as the final pause end date nears.
Updates on Major State and Local Legislation
Throughout December, several states made significant announcements as well. First, Rhode Island extended its deadline to file the reporting required under the state’s health insurance mandate to March 31, 2022. Currently, the new deadline only affects the date to file with the agency and not the deadline to furnish reports to employees, which remains January 31, 2022.
A few weeks later, New York City (NYC) announced a sweeping vaccine mandate for all private employers in NYC. Under the guidelines, workers in NYC needed to begin showing proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by December 27, 2021 and proof of a second dose 45 days after (for Pfizer or Moderna vaccines) with no option for testing. Businesses must also verify and keep a record of each worker’s proof of vaccination.
Halfway through the month, Minnesota’s state Department of Employment and Economic Development reported unemployment tax costs will increase in 2022. An additional assessment of 14% will be applied to initial amounts due, and a federal loan interest assessment of 1.8% will also take effect this year. Overall, tax rates for experienced employers will range from 0.5% to 8.9%, and rates for new employers will vary by industry and range from 1.0% to 8.9%.
Shortly after that, Washington Governor Jay Inslee instructed his state’s Employment Security Department to delay assessments and collections of Washington’s Long Term Care Tax through April 2022. In addition, Inslee encouraged employers to pause collecting premiums until adjustments to the law have been made in the state legislature.
Federal Forms and Announcements From the IRS
Near the end of the month, the IRS published final 2021 Form 1095-C and 1095-C instructions. They have been modified to add new codes IT and IU for individual coverage health reimbursement arrangements (ICHRA) offered to an employee and an employee’s spouse, but not dependents. Additionally, the instructions will include information about the extension of the due date for furnishing statements to individuals – which has been moved from January 31, 2022, to March 2, 2022. Around the same time, the IRS also released the 2022 standard mileage rates, effective as of January 1, 2022. They are:
- 58.5 cents per mile driven for business use
- 18 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes for qualified active-duty members of the Armed Forces
- 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations
Additional Tax Laws and Rulings for 2022
Finally, to end this roundup with a bang, here is a brief synopsis of other federal, state, and local laws effective as of January 1:
- The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced the Social Security wage base limit will increase to $147,000 for the tax year 2022.
- Tax rates for Social Security (6.2%) and Medicare (1.45%) for 2022 will remain unchanged, with the maximum Social Security tax for employees and employers set at $9,114.00.
- State unemployment insurance wage base limits increased in several different states. View a chart of the rates here.
- State and local minimum wage rates increased across the country, with some states and cities raising theirs by more than a dollar per hour. View a chart of the rates here.
- Paid family leave rates updated in seven states and the District of Columbia, with some areas requiring both employees and employers to pay. View a chart of the rates here.
- The California Wage Theft Act makes intentional theft of wages, including gratuities and benefits, in an amount greater than $950 from one employee or $2,350 in aggregate from two or more employees in a consecutive 12-month period, grand theft.
- The Universal Paid Leave Act will increase the amount of paid leave per fiscal year to six workweeks of medical leave and two workweeks of prenatal leave.
- The Illinois Equal Pay Certification ensures the Illinois Department of Labor will contact employers to indicate when they must apply for the Equal Pay Certification, assigning a date between March 24, 2022, and March 23, 2024.
- The 2022 HSA Contribution Limits for self-coverage is $3,650 and $7,300 for family coverage for the year 2022.
- Qualified Transportation and Parking plans will both be $280 per month for the year 2022.
- Qualified Small Employer HRA (QSEHRA) will increase to $5,450/year for single coverage and $11,050/year for family coverage.
Get more details on the compliance updates from December here:
- Employee Management
- Benefits Administration
- Employee Management
- Human Resources
- Employee Management