The Washington Report
May 20, 2020
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
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The Washington Report will not be published on May 27, 2020. Look for your next Aon Washington Report on Wednesday, June 3, 2020.
House Passes COVID-19 Relief Bill; Senate Passage Unlikely
On May 15, 2020, the House approved with a 208–199 vote a $3 trillion COVID-19 relief bill (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act) – H.R. 6800). Among other provisions, the bill would provide increased state and local government aid, additional stimulus checks, expanded paid leave provisions, student-loan forgiveness, and several immigration-related measures. However, the bill in its current form has a slim chance for Senate passage. The House is not scheduled to return to the Hill until after Memorial Day and the Senate has not provided any specific details on when it will consider the bill.
The full text of H.R. 6800 is available here.
DOL Updates Pandemic FAQs on Paid Sick and Family Medical Leave
On May 11, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) updated its frequently asked question (FAQ) list (Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Questions and Answers) related to paid sick and expanded family medical leave during the pandemic. The updated guidance added five FAQs to the existing list, bringing the total number of questions and answers to 93. The new FAQs address domestic and temporary workers as well as paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Please note that some government websites are experiencing technological issues due to increased traffic. Readers may have to cut and paste the links below to access the information.
The updated DOL FAQs are available at: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions
IRS Expands Menu for Cafeteria Plans
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released guidance under Internal Revenue Code Section 125 that allows employers to amend their cafeteria plans for calendar year 2020 to permit employees significantly more flexibility to make mid-year election changes to their health care benefits, health care flexible spending arrangements (FSAs), and dependent care FSAs, including a longer grace period for spending down balances in health care and dependent care FSAs.
The IRS also released guidance that increases the amount employers can allow employees to carry over from previous plan years from $500 to 20% of the annual maximum employee contribution ($550 for 2020), and clarifies the rules for reimbursing premium payments under individual coverage health reimbursement arrangements. The new rules appear in IRS Notices 2020-29 and 2020-33.
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