Human Resources
Aon Washington Report - 9/18/2017

Aon Washington Report

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September 18, 2017

Disaster Relief

IRS Provides Special Relief to Encourage Leave-Based Donation Programs for Victims of Hurricanes

On September 14, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced in Notice 2017-52 special relief designed to support leave-based donation programs to aid victims of Hurricane Irma. This parallels relief granted to Hurricane Harvey victims. Under these programs, employees may forgo their vacation, sick, or personal leave in exchange for cash payments the employer makes, before January 1, 2019, to charitable organizations providing relief for the victims of this disaster. Under this special relief, the donated leave will not be included in the income or wages of the employees. Employers will be permitted to deduct the cash payments as business expenses.

IRS Notice 2017-52 is available here.

Agencies Release Notice on Hurricane Relief

On September 12, 2017, the IRS, the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) (the Agencies) released Notice 2017-49, which provides relief in connection with certain employee benefit plans because of damage caused by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. The relief provided in this Notice is in addition to any relief already provided by the Agencies to victims of these hurricanes.

IRS Notice 2017-49 is available here.

A Department of Labor listing of activities to assist states and territories is available here.

IRS Announces Relief for Victims of Hurricane Irma; Provides Information Pages for Updates and Guidance

On September 12, 2017, the IRS released Announcement 2017-13, which provides relief to victims of Hurricane Irma. The Announcement permits easier access to victims’ funds held in workplace retirement plans and in individual retirement accounts, for the period beginning September 4, 2017, and ending January 31, 2018. The relief provided in the Announcement is in addition to the relief already provided by the IRS pursuant to News Release IR-2017-150.

The IRS is also providing information pages dedicated to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. The pages include news releases, guidance, and other resources.

IRS Announcement 2017-13 is available here.

The IRS Hurricane Irma information page is available here.

The IRS Hurricane Harvey information page is available here.

A listing of IRS Tax Relief in Disaster Situations is available here.

PBGC Announces Disaster Relief Relating to Deadlines in Response to Hurricane Irma

On September 13, 2017, the PBGC announced in Disaster Relief Number: 17-12 that the agency is waiving certain penalties and extending certain deadlines in response to Hurricane Irma.

The PBGC Disaster Relief Number: 17-12 is available here.

A PBGC listing of Disaster Relief Announcements is available here.

Other HR/Employment

WHD Announces Minimum Wage for Contractors Will Increase to $10.35, Effective January 1, 2018

On September 14, 2017, the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the Department of Labor issued a Notice to announce the applicable minimum wage rate to be paid to workers performing work on or in connection with federal contracts covered by Executive Order 13658 (Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors), beginning January 1, 2018. The Executive Order was signed on February 12, 2014, and raised the hourly minimum wage paid by contractors to workers performing work on covered federal contracts to $10.10 per hour, beginning January 1, 2015, and beginning January 1, 2016, and annually thereafter, an amount determined by the Secretary of Labor. The applicable minimum wage under Executive Order 13658 is currently $10.20 per hour, in effect since January 1, 2017.

Beginning January 1, 2018, the Executive Order minimum wage rate that generally must be paid to workers performing work on or in connection with covered contracts will increase to $10.35 per hour.

The WHD Notice is available here.

EEOC Publishes Notice Staying the Effectiveness of the EEO-1 Pay Data Collection

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced on September 14, 2017, that until further notice, filers subject to the EEO-1 reporting requirement should not submit aggregate data about W-2 (Box 1) income and hours worked, which is the information required by “Component 2” of the EEO-1 report as approved on September 29, 2016. However, filers should continue to submit data on the ethnicity, race, and sex of workers by job category (“Component 1” of the EEO-1 report).

This is the same type of EEO-1 data that filers have submitted in the past. All EEO-1 filers should submit and certify their 2017 EEO-1 reports (Component 1 data only) by March 31, 2018. They should count employees for purposes of this EEO-1 report during a “workforce snapshot period” between October 1 and December 31, 2017.

The EEOC Notice is available here.

The EEOC news release is available here.

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs memo is available here.

Aon Publications

Congress Not "Leafing" Health Care Reform Alone—After Summer Lull, Senators "Fall" Into Session With Dueling Bills

On September 13, 2017, Republicans and Democrats introduced two vastly different health care reform bills, each of which would, in its own way, restructure the employer health care system.

Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the latest version of “repeal and replace” legislation, which is designed to jump-start the legislative process that stalled in the Senate this summer. At the same time, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced “Medicare for All” legislation designed to institute a single-payer health care system in the United States.

Both bills face an uphill battle for passage. To comply with the 51-vote threshold for passage under Senate reconciliation rules, the Senate must pass the Graham-Cassidy legislation by September 30. After September 30, the reconciliation rules expire and the legislation will need the support of at least eight Senate Democrats (assuming all 52 Republicans support the bill) to overcome a filibuster. The Sanders bill, meanwhile, stands little-to-no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate, but is significant to employers as a leading indicator of the growing support among Congressional Democrats for a single-payer health care system.

The Aon bulletin, which provides a brief overview of the bills, can be found here.

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