Regulatory Roundup October 2021November 01, 2021
From federal FAQs to State Unemployment Insurance updates, the month of October was packed full of new laws and legislative amendments.
As we enter the home stretch of 2021, both federal and individual state governments had a very busy month. Various federal agencies issued guidance on religious objections to vaccine requirements, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Coronavirus aid, and how COVID-19 has impacted timeframes for other healthcare legislation. Meanwhile Oregon, New York, Vermont, and California addressed numerous subjects, including Unemployment Insurance (UI) taxes and forgiveness, family rights, and mandatory savings programs. Catch up on all the tricks and treats from the last few weeks in this month’s Regulatory Roundup.
At the federal level, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released guidance regarding employees seeking a religious exemption from a vaccine requirement. The guidance included a reminder on the basic requirements of Title VII, explained that employees must inform their employer if they wish to exercise a religious exemption, and that employers who can demonstrate “undue hardship” are not required to accommodate such requests.
Earlier in the month, several other federal agencies released a series of FAQs regarding the implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act; the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA); and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Together, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Department of Labor (DOL), and Department of Treasury (USDT) answered questions ranging from cost-sharing requirements for COVID-19 preventative services, wellness program premium surcharges, and the impact premium surcharges or discounts have on determining affordability for ACA employer mandate.
Finally, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published Notice 2021-58 that clarified and gave multiple examples of how extensions to various COBRA-related timeframes may be applied during the COVID-19 National Emergency. Specifically, the timeframe extensions apply to initial COBRA elections and both initial and subsequent payments of COBRA premiums.
At the state level, a flurry of legislation was passed on both the West and East Coasts:
- California passed five different bills surrounding wage theft, worker statuses, minimum wage, and more:
- A.B. 1003: An amendment to wage theft classifications and punishments
- A.B. 1033: The new California Family Rights Act
- A.B. 1506: Updates to worker status laws for newspaper distributors and carriers
- S.B. 639: An amendment to minimum wage laws for workers with disabilities
- S.B. 727: A new law regarding labor-related liabilities for contractors
- Oregon passed HB 3389 to give employers relief from UI payroll taxes due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Employers can defer paying 1/3 of the tax in 2021 until June 30, 2022, and can have all of that deferred amount forgiven if certain conditions are met.
- Vermont’s DOL updated the state’s procedures for giving employers relief from UI charges on their DOL employer account that occurred in 2021 before the Governor ended the State of Emergency in June.
- New York amended its current Secure Choice Savings Program to be mandatory for covered employers and requires said employers to auto-enroll any employee who does not opt out.
Get more details on the compliance updates from October here:
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Guidance on Religious Objections
- Joint Agency COVID-19 Aid Guidance
- IRS Clarified COBRA Timeframes Under COVID-19 Relief
- California Legislative Updates
- Oregon Unemployment Insurance Payroll Tax Relief and Forgiveness
- Vermont Employer Charge Relief Due to COVID-19
- New York Mandatory Secure Choice Savings Program
Visit our Vaccine Mandate Resources for Employers page to browse our resources to help you understand and manage the latest requirements related to COVID-19. You can also check out our Legislative Updates Related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) for a comprehensive summary of legislative changes and how Paylocity has responded with updates to our product to help you stay compliant. For the latest information and resources related to the coronavirus, check our COVID-19 Resources page often.
Be sure to bookmark our resource library and come back monthly for Regulatory Roundups of tax and compliance alerts you need to know. For any other frequently asked questions or general assistance, refer to our Administrator Support page for support contact information, quick how-to guides or training courses, important PEAK articles, and more. Don't forget to also follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter for urgent updates.
This information is provided as a courtesy, may change, and is not intended as legal or tax guidance. Employers with questions or concerns outside the scope of a Payroll Service Provider are encouraged to seek the advice of a qualified CPA, Tax Attorney, or Advisor.
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