The Washington Report
April 28, 2021
Note to subscribers: Due to the current environment, information is changing at a rapid rate. While we do our best to provide timely updates, it is possible that the information shared in the newsletter may change or be revised after our publication deadline. Stay healthy and safe! ~The Washington Report team
President Biden to Address Congress Wednesday, April 28
President Biden will address Congress this Wednesday, April 28, 2021. The speech, marking the President’s first 100 days in office, will most likely provide an update on COVID-19 and highlight new initiatives the administration intends to focus on during the upcoming year.
President Biden Calls on Employers to Provide Paid Time Off for Employees to Receive Vaccinations; IRS Reminds Employers of ARPA Tax Credit
On April 21, 2021, President Biden asked U.S. employers to “offer full pay to their employees for any time off needed to get vaccinated and for any time it takes to recover from the after-effects of vaccination.” He also announced a paid leave tax credit that will offset the cost for employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide full pay for any time their employees need to get a COVID-19 vaccination or recover from that vaccination. The President’s announcement specifically included:
- A Tax Credit for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses to Fully Offset the Cost of Paid Leave for Employees to Get Vaccinated and Recover From Any After-Effects of Vaccination. On the same day of the President’s announcement, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released its own Fact Sheet (“Under the American Rescue Plan, Employers Are Entitled to Tax Credits for Providing Paid Leave to Employees Who Take Time Off Related to COVID-19 Vaccinations”). The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) allows small and midsize employers, and certain governmental employers, to claim refundable tax credits that reimburse them for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave to their employees due to COVID-19, including leave taken by employees to receive or recover from COVID-19 vaccinations. The ARPA tax credits are available to eligible employers that pay sick and family leave for leave from April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021. The tax credit in the ARPA will “enable employers with fewer than 500 employees to claim up to $17,110 for 14 weeks of paid leave for each impacted employee not only to get vaccinated, but also to take time off if they have COVID-19 symptoms and are going to the doctor; are getting tested for COVID-19; are under quarantine or isolation order by the government or a doctor (or are caring for someone who is); or have to care for a child whose school or child care provider closed, due to COVID-19.”
- A Call for Both Large and Small Employers to Take Additional Steps to Help Get Their Employees and Communities Vaccinated. The President asked employers to use their “unique resources to provide information about how people can get vaccinated and why people should get vaccinated.” He also called on employers to make commitments to provide information and incentivize all Americans to get vaccinated. These commitments “could include discounts for vaccinated individuals, product giveaways or brand rewards, messaging in-store, point-of purchase promotions, direct outreach to customers, or Public Service Announcements about the importance of vaccinations.”
For additional information, please refer to IRS Issues More Guidance on Tax Credits for Paid Leave for COVID-19 Vaccinations in the Publications section of this newsletter.
The White House announcement is available here.
The IRS news release is available here.
The IRS Fact Sheet (“Under the American Rescue Plan, Employers Are Entitled to Tax Credits for Providing Paid Leave to Employees Who Take Time Off Related to COVID-19 Vaccinations”) is available here.
EEOC Opens 2019 and 2020 Component 1 Data Collection
On April 26, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that the 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection is now open. The deadline for submitting both the 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 Component 1 data is Monday, July 19, 2021. The EEOC is extending the data collection period this year from 10 weeks to 12 weeks to provide employers additional time to file. The EEO-1 Component 1 report is a mandatory annual data collection that requires all private sector employers with 100 or more employees, and federal contractors with 50 or more employees meeting certain criteria, to submit demographic workforce data, including data by race/ethnicity, sex and job categories.
The EEOC news release is available here.
The newly launched EEO-1 Component 1 website (including filing updates and additional information) is available here.
The Filer Support Center (where employers can request assistance and find other resources such as fact sheets and frequently asked questions) is available here.
IRS Provides Safe Harbor for Small Businesses to Claim Deductions Relating to First-Round PPP Loans
On April 22, 2021, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Revenue Procedure 2021-20 for certain businesses that received first-round Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans but did not deduct any of the original eligible expenses because they relied on guidance issued before the enactment of tax relief legislation in December of 2020. Under prior guidance, businesses that received PPP loans to cover payroll costs, interest on covered mortgage obligations, covered rent obligation payments, and covered utility payments could not deduct corresponding expenses.
With the December 27, 2020, enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, businesses now may claim these deductions even though they received PPP loans to cover original eligible expenses. These businesses can use the safe harbor provided by this guidance to deduct those expenses on the return for the immediately subsequent year.
The IRS news release is available here.
IRS Revenue Procedure 2021-20 is available here.
EEOC Announces Public Hearing to Examine Civil Rights Implications of COVID-19 in the Workplace
On April 20, 2021, the EEOC announced it will hold its first all-virtual hearing on Wednesday, April 28, at 10:30 a.m. (Eastern Time) to consider the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers, the difficulties faced by employers in navigating potential employment discrimination issues raised by COVID-19, and future challenges the pandemic may present for employees and employers. The hearing will be held virtually, as a videoconference, and is open to the public. The EEOC will hear testimony from a wide variety of experts on job discrimination and other barriers to employment during the ongoing health and economic crisis and how to help promote compliance with equal employment opportunity laws as employers and workers navigate unprecedented conditions.
Additional information regarding accessibility and panel discussion is included in the EEOC news release, available here.
OSHA Releases Guidance on Recording Adverse Vaccine Reactions
On April 20, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released guidance on employers recording adverse vaccine reactions. The guidance states “If you require your employees to be vaccinated as a condition of employment, then any adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine is work-related.” Employers that recommend the vaccine, but don’t require it, are not required to record adverse reactions. The guidance is in the form of three frequently asked questions (FAQs), under the “Vaccine Related” subject area. The FAQs include:
- Are adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine recordable on the OSHA recordkeeping log?
- If I require my employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of their employment, are adverse reactions to the vaccine recordable?
- I do not require my employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine. However, I do recommend that they receive the vaccine and may provide it to them or make arrangements for them to receive it offsite. If an employee has an adverse reaction to the vaccine, am I required to record it?
The latest FAQs are available here.
The “OSHA Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements” webpage is available here.
Now Available: Retirement Legal Consulting & Compliance Quarterly Update
The Retirement Legal Consulting & Compliance practice is pleased to present its Quarterly Update of recent legal developments for the second quarter of 2021. In this issue you will find the following articles:
- ARPA to the Rescue—Significant Pension Funding Relief
- DOL Will Not Enforce Recent 2020 ESG and Proxy Voting Regulations
- DOL Issues Definitive Missing Participant Guidance
- DOL Continues to Pursue Payments to Missing Annuitants
- Marital Status: When Less is More
- Cybersecurity—GAO Report and New DOL Guidance
- Second Circuit Rejects Mandatory Arbitration of ERISA Claim
- Quarterly Roundup of Other New Developments
The second quarter 2021 issue of the Retirement Legal Consulting & Compliance Aon Quarterly Update is available here.
IRS Issues More Guidance on Tax Credits for Paid Leave for COVID-19 Vaccinations
The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued a fact sheet with additional details describing the refundable tax credit that is available to employers with fewer than 500 employees for sick and family leave paid to employees who take leave to receive or recover from COVID-19 vaccinations. The tax credit applies to amounts paid for leaves taken from April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 allows employers with fewer than 500 employees and certain governmental employers to claim refundable tax credits that reimburse them for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave to their employees due to COVID-19, including leave taken by employees to receive or recover from COVID-19 vaccinations.
The Aon bulletin is available here.
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