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As employment law constantly changes, the attorneys at Bean, Kinney & Korman stay up to date on the law as it develops. Our blog topics focus on those changes and what you need to know about them, ranging from severance agreements and the FLSA to social media in the workplace and recent court decisions. If you are interested in having us cover a specific topic, please let us know.

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The Risks of Engaging Foreign Independent Contractors

In today’s global economy, it has become increasingly common for companies based in the United States to engage workers who live in other countries to provide services as independent contractors. This practice has become even more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic with the broad expansion of virtual work.  

Companies can save money hiring independent contractors because they do not have to provide benefits, office space, or equipment to contractors or pay taxes on compensation paid to contractors. Companies can often save even more money engaging contractors from other countries due to lower labor costs. 

COBRA Subsidies for Employees and Tax Credits for Employers Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the “ARPA”) into law on March 11, 2021. The $1.9 trillion relief package contains several provisions that will impact employers, including a requirement that employers provide “assistance eligible individuals” (defined below) with fully subsidized COBRA continuation coverage premiums for the time period of April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021, with such costs to be offset by a refundable credit against the employer’s share of Medicare tax under a newly added Internal Revenue Code section.

OSHA Tells Employers: Vaccinated Employees Should Still Wear Face Coverings

Now that COVID-19 vaccines are becoming more widely available in the U.S. and a larger percentage of individuals have been vaccinated, the perception also seems to be growing that employees, now protected against the virus, can just stop wearing their face coverings while in the workplace. Not so, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

DOL Explains FLSA Travel Time Payment Rules for Part-Day-Telework Employees

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) weighed in again on the question of employee travel time between home and office, i.e., whether or under what circumstances it is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for “an employee who chooses to telework for part of the day and work at the office for part of the day.” When employees must be paid for travel time has been a long-standing source of confusion for employers, as evidenced by the frequency of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) opinion letters addressing it.

DOL Allows Employers to Electronically Post Required FLSA/FMLA Notices

2020 will undoubtedly be remembered as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as the year that telework gained widespread acceptance in the U.S. While remote work creates several benefits for employers, it also comes with some challenges. In guidance issued this week, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) took on one of those issues: Under what circumstances can employers satisfy the mandatory requirement to physically post notices (“continuous posting”) or notify employees individually (“individual notices”) under certain federal statutes – here, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)  -- by email or internet or intranet websites?

DOL Adjusts their View of Telemedicine to Support FMLA Leave

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued guidance clarifying that telemedicine examinations or treatment, which have become increasingly widespread by necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic, may be used by employees as the equivalent of an “in-person visit to a health care provider” for the purpose of establishing a “serious health condition” under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

DOL Issues New Tipped Employee Rules under the FLSA

As a Court of Appeals panel in Richmond pointed out recently, employer FLSA obligations are simple enough for employees who receive a traditional hourly wage but get far murkier and more complicated in the restaurant industry, where employees typically receive compensation through tips or gratuities and employers are permitted to take a “tip credit” to offset a part of the minimum hourly wage due restaurant employees.

Deck the Halls (but stay Home) this Holiday Season

The 2020 holiday season is fast approaching. By one recent estimate, nearly 40% of Americans are planning to travel for the holidays, many to visit with family, friends, and loved ones for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet there are some parts of the U.S., especially the mid-west and south, that are currently experiencing significant spikes in the rate of COVID-19 infections. The CDC continues to actively discourage travel during the COVID-19 pandemic because “travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.”  

The IRS Chief Counsel’s Informal Guidance Clarifies Some Issues Left Open after Notice 2020-65 Regarding the “Payroll Tax Holiday”

In addition to Notice 2020-65 and Instructions to Form 941 which we outlined in our recent blog, the IRS Office of Chief Counsel for employee benefits, exempt organizations and employment tax provided informal but insightful guidance on its monthly IRS payroll industry call held on September 3, 2020. The informal guidance was directed in part toward clearing up confusion that remained even after the IRS’s issuance of Notice 2020-65 over whether, or to what extent, employers could simply ignore the “payroll tax holiday” created by the President’s August 8, 2020, Executive Order.

IRS Releases Instructions to Form 941 Expanding on Prior Guidance on Deferral of Social Security Tax

On October 1, 2020, the IRS released instructions for Form 941 providing additional guidelines for reporting deferred Social Security taxes pursuant to the President's Memorandum (discussed previously on our blog) and IRS Notice 2020-65

Background

On August 8, 2020, the Presidential Memorandum directed the Secretary of the Treasury to use his authority pursuant to section 7508A of the Internal Revenue Code to defer the withholding, deposit, and payment of certain payroll tax obligations.