Temporary Benefit Plan Changes (COVID-19)

Employco USA, Inc.

April 08, 2020 (UPDATE)


Through provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), company benefit plans are experiencing temporary changes geared towards a more employee-friendly offering.

Medical Plan Coverage: UnitedHealthcare – the nation’s largest insurance company – and other large insurers are waiving cost sharing and copays for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) treatments. While each company differs in how long the waivers will be in place and what other costs will be waived, these announcements are part of a cross-country effort to help individuals access affordable care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

HDHPs and HSAs: Allows telehealth and other remote care services to be covered under a high deductible health plan (HDHP) before the deductible is met, without affecting the HDHP’s compatibility with health savings accounts (HSAs).

OTC Eligibility: Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, along with menstrual care products, will be qualified as medical expenses that may be paid for using HSAs or other tax-advantaged arrangements, such as health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) or health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).

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Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)

Employco USA, Inc.

March 28, 2020 (UPDATE)


President Donald Trump has signed the third and largest COVID-19 piece of legislation. The following bullet points summarize the key provisions of the Act.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)

  • Expanded Unemployment Benefits
    • The federal government will provide an additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits – this is on top of what the state will provide to the person in regular weekly unemployment benefits.
    • Example: A laid off worker in Illinois who was earning $577 per week in wages, would normally have been eligible for $272 in weekly unemployment benefits. With the $600 in additional unemployment benefits under the CARES Act, the unemployment benefits could increase to $872 per week.
  • Payroll Protection Loans
    • Companies with less than 500 employees may be eligible to receive a forgivable loan.
    • Loan maximum is lesser of (1) average monthly payroll costs during the prior year x 2.5; or (2) $10 million.
    • Payments under this program exclude sick leave payments made as part of the FFCRA.
  • Direct Payments to Individuals
    • $1,200 for most adults earning less than $75,000 per year (or $2,400 combined for married couples earning less than $150,000).
    • $500 per child.
    • Potential smaller checks for individuals earning between $75,000 and $99,000; and couples earning between $150,000 and $198,000.
  • Employee Retention Tax Credit
    • Refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of the wages on the first $10,000 of compensation.
    • This tax credit is not available to employers that receive the “paycheck protection” loans.
    • Available to employers whose:
      • Operations were fully or partially suspended due to a COVID-19 related “shut-down order,” or
      • Gross receipts declined by more than 50% when compared to the same quarter in the previous year.

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Employee Tips During COVID-19

Employco USA, Inc.

March 24, 2020 (UPDATE)


We have created an employee-facing letter that companies can use as a template to edit and distribute to their employees. The letter includes tips for employees to consider related to the COVID-19 crisis and their employment (employee benefits, paid sick leave, family medical leave, and unemployment benefits). You can download a copy here or copy/paste from below:

Dear employee:

We want to take this opportunity to provide you with information and tips to help you during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis. Although we’re providing this to you as our employee, these tips are likely applicable to the general public in the event you want to share this with your family and friends.

Employee Benefits
If you would like to make a mid-year change to your benefit elections (e.g., change a dependent care flexible spending account) as a result of a qualifying event, contact us to request a copy of the benefit enrollment change form.

Most health insurance plans will be required to provide coverage for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and related services to employees and their covered dependents, without cost sharing (like deductibles, copayments and coinsurance) during the national emergency period.

Paid Sick Leave and Family Medical Leave (at companies with less than 500 employees)
If you are unable to work or telework because of any of the following 6 conditions, contact us because you may be eligible for a certain level of pay continuation:

  1. subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
  3. experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis;
  4. caring for an individual subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order or advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
  5. caring for the employee’s child if the child’s school or place of care is closed or the child’s care provider is unavailable due to public health emergency; or
  6. experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, please contact us immediately.

Unemployment Benefits
If an employee is subject to a lay-off, furlough or a reduction in hours, he/she may file for unemployment compensation. Unemployment insurance is a state-operated insurance program designed to partially replace lost wages when you are out of work. Visit your state’s department of employment security or unemployment insurance website for more information or to apply for benefits.

We recognize this is a time of great stress and uncertainty. We hope you and your family and friends are safe and healthy.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

-(INSERT authorized representative’s name, job title, phone number, and email address)

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BREAKING: Families First Coronavirus Response Act Signed into Law

On March 18th, the Senate passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the President signed it into law. Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA, an employment solutions firm with locations across the country, comments on the issue.

COVID-19“The new provisions take effect on April 2, 2020,” says Wilson. “The new requirements state that companies must provide employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected paid leave. Companies will pay employees at 2/3 their regular rate, not to exceed $200 per day and $10,000 in aggregate per employee. The pay starts after the first 10 days of leave.”

Wilson says that these requirements exist if the employee is unable to work or telework in order to care for a minor child. “If the child’s school is closed because of the public health emergency, employers must take this into special consideration.”

However, Wilson says there currently exists an option to exclude companies with less than 50 employees if this action would jeopardize the continuation of their business, and companies with less than 25 employees may not be required to restore the employee back to the same position after the 12- week leave has been exhausted.

Wilson also addresses the new provisions for the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.

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Podcast: 2020 Benefit Planning

Rob, Scott, and Jason discuss 2020 benefit planning; from the history of group health insurance and employer benefit plans to wellness programs, member education, open enrollment, the Affordable Care Act, retirement plans, strategies for non-traditional benefits (flex-time, student loan repayment, pet benefits), and more.

2020 Benefit Planning

Contact us with any questions you may have, we’re here to help: hr@employco.com

What the New Overtime Ruling Means for Employers

Employment expert explains the recent DOL decision

DOLThe U.S. Department of Labor’s recent decision on overtime extends to 1.3 million U.S. workers. The number is much lower than what the Obama administration tried to accomplish during President Obama’s tenure in office.

“Since 2016 when President Obama signed an overtime law which made employees who earned less than $47,000 a year eligible for compensation, many small business owners were fearful that they would not be able to keep pace with new requirements for overtime compensation. When a Texas judge blocked that ruling, it offered a small reprieve until President Trump took office,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and employment compensation expert.

In the following years, both Republicans and Democrats have struggled to agree on an overtime solution, until revealing their new decision last week.

Previously, workers were automatically entitled to overtime pay only if they earned $23,660 or less a year, says Wilson. But, starting on Jan. 1, 2020, that salary ceiling will be raised to $35,568.

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Paid Family Leave Debate Heats Up

Employment expert discusses pending family leave proposals

Paid Family LeaveMany large employers are starting to consider offering their employees paid family leave, but currently only 17% of workers have access to paid leave. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) is seeking to ease this burden on American families by co-sponsoring a bill which would allow new parents to borrow from their Social Security benefits in order to take time off work.

“Paid family leave has stalled in Congress for years, despite the fact that surveys show that most Americans widely support paid family leave for mothers and even fathers,” says Rob Wilson, employment expert and President of Employco USA, a national employment-solutions firm with clients across the country.

Rubio’s bill would allow new moms and dads to borrow against their Social Security for up to 3 months of retirement benefits, whether they adopted or birthed a child.

“Rubio’s plan would not put any additional burden on taxpayers, and it has received support from both sides of the aisle,” says Wilson, “But it has not gone without criticism. Since the Social Security system is already so overburdened, many Americans fear that this is a plan that will fall apart quickly.”

President Trump has also stated that he supports paid family leave, and promised his 2020 fiscal plan would include up to 6 weeks of paid leave for new parents as well as improved childcare programs.

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‘Entitled’ Millennials May Have the Right Idea

Employment expert explains how younger workers are demanding more from bosses – and getting it

MillennialsMillennials often get criticized for having an ‘entitled’ attitude, and this appears to hold true in the workplace as well. Recent reports reflect that younger workers do appear to demand more than their older counterparts.

“Previous generations used to be happy to have a steady paycheck and a gold watch upon retirement,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA. “But younger workers don’t approach employment the same way. Research shows that Millennials change jobs more frequently than previous generations, and they also have a lower opinion of corporations. In other words, they don’t want to commit years at companies which they see as purely self-interested.”

Wilson says that employers would be wise not to give up hope when it comes to engaging and retaining younger workers.

“Yes, these workers are more prone to dissatisfaction and more apt to leave jobs that don’t make them happy, but research shows that when companies approach Millennials as individuals and try to appeal to them on their own level, they do so with great results.”

When Millennials are engaged by their employers, and companies make an effort to reach out to the younger generation in the workplace, they see a vast improvement in both agility and innovation.

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Improving Job Market Means Employees Have Options: Don’t Let Your Top Talent Get Poached

Employment expert shares “The Three E’s” which will keep employees happy and hard-working

Leaving EmployeeAs the job market improves, so too does employers’ risk of losing employees. It is estimated that around 60 percent of employees are either actively or passively searching for a new job, or they are being approached by other companies who want to ‘poach’ them for their own team.

Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and employment trends expert says, “Losing an employee is a serious financial blow. It will cost you about 6-9 months of salary to replace a salaried employee, and this does not even include the soft-dollar cost of lost knowledge. This includes technical and institutional knowledge as well as lost productivity as other employees have to pick up the missing employee’s slack, which can in turn cause lower morale, lower employee engagement and other financial concerns.”

Wilson says that employers would well to remember the three E’s (economics, employee engagement, and environment) when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.

“From an economic standpoint, you need to think in terms not only of salary and health insurance, but also a total compensation package,” says Wilson. “There are many benefits which today’s employees are looking for, including whether you match a 401k, what is the value of the paid time off offered, along with medical, dental, vision and life insurance.”

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