Stacy Jensen No Comments

American Rescue Plan Act

Congress recently passed the American Rescue Plan, which provides additional relief to individuals and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic. Though we need further guidance, not yet released, from the DOL, we will briefly summarize some of the pieces relevant to our clients:

• An extension of the Employee Retention Tax Credit through the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2021. Any credits in 2020 must be completed by 6/1.
• An extension of the tax credits for voluntarily providing FFCRA paid sick and family leave another two quarters – through Sept. 30, 2021. Keep in mind that Colorado has the PHE (public health emergency) paid leave obligation. The DOL has not clarified if employers voluntarily abiding by the FFCRA can cap their offerings at 80 hours or if they must extend it to the 14 weeks noted in the Act.
• An increase in the exclusion for employer-provided dependent care assistance for 2021 from $5,000 to $10,500. We are reaching out to employees directly so that they may voluntarily increase their elections if they desire.
• A temporary subsidy of 100 percent for COBRA qualified beneficiaries where the employee’s qualifying event was an involuntary termination of employment or reduction in hours due to the pandemic, with the subsidy paid by the employer, plan, or insurer and reimbursed by the government through a refundable payroll tax credit. This will take effect 4/1/2021 – 9/30/2021. Our TPA, 24hourflex, will administer this.
• A temporary elimination of the upper income limit for eligibility for premium tax credits in the ACA exchanges – which is currently set at 400 percent of the federal poverty level for 2021 and 2022 – and an increase in the amount of the premium tax credits by decreasing the amount that an individual must contribute to the cost of coverage.
• An expansion of the eligibility guidelines for the Paycheck Protection Program to allow more nonprofit entities to be eligible.
• A direct subsidy of $28.6 billion set aside for restaurants to be administered by the Small Business Administration, with $5 billion of this amount set aside for restaurants with gross revenue of less than $500,000.
The American Rescue Plan extends several unemployment provisions in the CARES, Family First, and CAA bills, including:
• The waiver of interest on outstanding loans to states to pay unemployment compensation.
• 100 percent federal reimbursement of regular extended unemployment benefits.
• Additional funding for systems and to address fraud.
• An increase in federal reimbursement credits to reimbursing employer accounts.

Finally, the bill extends temporary federal unemployment benefits by $300 a week through August 29, 2021.

With the very new passing of this bill, we are seeking clarification from experts who can help us navigate these benefits and provide you with accurate information. As we have more details we will pass along that knowledge.

Stacy Jensen No Comments

Unemployment Claim Fraud in Colorado

Actual current employees who have NOT filed unemployment claims with the state of Colorado have been hit with fraudulent UI (unemployment insurance) claims with an unprecedented level in recent months.

The state of Colorado has adviced the following steps:

If you receive a Reliacard debit card or other paperwork from CDLE and have not filed a claim, report it to us via the form below and follow the five steps. Use this same form if you have received any paperwork to your mailing address that was sent to someone else other than those in your household.

Protect Yourself Against Fraud and Identity theft 
Never give out personally identifiable information over the phone. We will never contact you and ask for your social security number (SSN), bank account numbers, your PIN, account passwords, or any other personally identifiable information.Submit A Fraud Report

You Received Unemployment Paperwork
or a Debit Card Without a Claim

If you received unemployment paperwork but did not file a claim, or otherwise believe you are a victim of identity theft related to unemployment benefits, please click here to submit a fraud report. Additionally, there are several recommended steps to follow:

  • If you received a U.S. Bank Reliacard for Colorado unemployment benefits but did not file a claim, fill out the U.S Bank Form or contact U.S. Bank immediately at 1-855-282-6161. Tell them that a fraudulent unemployment claim was filed using your information, and ask them to deactivate the card.
     
  • Contact the three consumer credit bureaus and put a fraud and identity theft alert on your name and Social Security number (SSN). It may be an automated system, so you may not talk to a live person and you will have to enter your SSN and date of birth.

    Credit Bureau Contact Info:
    Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
    Experian: 1-888-397-3742
    TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289

Please also email your InTANDEM HR Account Manager to alert them to the fraudulent claim. We report any phony UI claims we receive to the state.

Monica Denler No Comments

EEO Guidance on Vaccine Refusal

The EEOC has recently issued updated guidance addressing COVID-19 vaccinations in the workplace. Many employers are asking, can we require our employees get a COVID-19 vaccine?

The EEO has responded – employers can adopt mandatory vaccination policies that require employees to get vaccinated as a condition of entering the workplace. However, the EEO mandates that employers also must attempt to accommodate employees who, due to disabilities or sincerely-held religious beliefs, decline or refuse to receive the vaccine.

If an employee refuses due to disability concerns, employer must first conduct an “individualized assessment” to determine whether having that employee unvaccinated in the workplace would pose a “direct threat” to health and safety within the meaning of the ADA. If the employer decides that the unvaccinated employee would pose a “direct threat,” the employer must next determine whether it can provide a reasonable accommodation to reduce this risk so that the employee no longer poses a “direct threat.” For example, the employer may want to consider whether enforcing infection control policies, such as mask-wearing and social distancing, would acceptably reduce any threat.

If the employer determines that there is no way to provide a reasonable accommodation that would prevent the employee from posing a “direct threat,” they can exclude the employee from entering the workplace. This is not an allowance to automatically terminate employment, however, and counsel should be sought.

If an employee objects to a vaccine on the basis of religious grounds, the employer must provide a reasonable accommodation for the religious belief, unless it would pose an “undue hardship” to the employer.

Vaccines are nothing new, though the COVID-19 vaccine most certainly is. As such, seek legal counsel to develop a vaccination policy should you so choose, and reach out to us prior to making an employment decision based on vaccination refusal.

View the EEOC’s guidance here:

https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws

Monica Denler No Comments

NEW Mandatory postings for Colorado Employers

The state of Colorado has updated their labor law posting with relation to compensation. The new COMPS order #37 should be displayed on top of the prior COMPS order #36 wherever your other labor law postings live:

https://cdle.colorado.gov/sites/cdle/files/COMPS%20Order%20%2337%20%282021%29%20Poster%20CLEAN.pdf

The state of Colorado also requires a posting for 1/1/2021 of the mandatory “Colorado Workplace Public Health Rights Poster: Effective January 1, 2021 PAID LEAVE, WHISTLEBLOWING, & PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT”. This should also be included with your other labor law postings:

https://cdle.colorado.gov/sites/cdle/files/Poster%2C%20Paid%20Leave%20%26%20Whistleblower%20-%202021%20poster.pdf

NOTE – we will post these to the ESS in the form of a document that satisfies the distribution/posting requirement to your employees. We will also include it on the electronic onboarding portal so that all of your new hires going forward acknowledge receipt of the documents. You may additionally email blast this to your employees if you so choose.

If you have any questions regarding these postings please let us know. Thank you for partnering with us to ensure your HR compliance.

Monica Denler No Comments

Multiple Colorado Employer Law changes

We’re reaching out with an update and reminder on some updates to Colorado employment law that do or will affect you and that are significantly different from existing law:

1. Firstly, and newly, proposition 118, which allows for 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave funded through a payroll tax paid by employers and employees has been approved. An additional four weeks of leave are allowed for pregnancy or childbirth complications. The first premiums will be paid beginning on January 1, 2023, and benefits will begin to be available on January 1, 2024. Under Proposition 118, employers cannot take disciplinary or retaliatory actions against employees for requesting or using paid leave. During the next two years, prior to the beginning of the premium payments, we will update you on this mandate which affects employers with 10 or more employees. We will need to hear more from the CO DOL prior to changing any policies or reaching out to employees regarding their rights or any applicable waiting periods.

2. A reminder – Colorado employers can no longer ask prospective employees about their criminal history. The state’s “ban the box” legislation, went into effect September of 2019 for employers with 11 or more workers. Come September 2021, it will apply to all businesses in Colorado. This law prohibits a checkbox on employment applications that ask applicants to reveal whether they have been convicted of a felony. Dubbed the “Colorado Chance to Compete Act,” the bill also bans employers from stating in job postings that people with a criminal history can’t apply. As of Sept. 1, the law applies to companies with 11 or more workers.

3. Equal pay for Equal Work Act:

Starting January 1, 2021, Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (SB 19-085) will prohibit all employers from discriminating because of sex (including gender identity) — alone or with another protected status — by paying less for substantially similar work in terms of skill, effort and responsibility. Every employer with any employees in the state will have to comply with the law.

Highlights of the Act
The law aims to increase pay equity and transparency, imposes new notice and recordkeeping requirements, and encourages companies to regularly self-audit their compensation practices. Employees are protected against sex-based pay discrimination for work requiring similar skill, effort and responsibility. The law permits pay differences arising from:

A seniority system
A merit system
A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production
The geographic location where the work is performed
Education, training, or experience reasonably related to the work
Travel that is a regular and necessary condition of the job

Employers can’t prevent employees from discussing their own compensation information with other employees or require employees to sign a waiver preventing them from discussing their compensation.

The law also prohibits employers from asking about job candidates’ wage history or relying on wage history to determine a wage rate. Employers can’t discriminate or retaliate against a prospective employee for failing to disclose wage history.

Job-Posting Notices and Recordkeeping:

New notice requirements will help current and prospective employees learn about job opportunities:
Employers will have to make reasonable efforts to “announce, post, or make known all opportunities for promotion” to all current employees on the same calendar day.
Each job-vacancy posting will have to disclose the hourly wage or salary, or the hourly wage or salary range, along with a general description of all benefits and other compensation offered.
Employees can report posting violations to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment within one year of learning of the violation.
Employers must keep records of job descriptions and wage history for each employee while employed and for two years after termination.

4. COMPS 36 will now reach almost all private employers in Colorado. Minimum guaranteed salary for exempt persons as of 1/1/2021 will be $40,500. You must either increase salary or change to non-exempt for applicable employees who are earning less than this amount.

The COMPS order also mandates that if a non-exempt employee is not authorized and permitted to take a 10-minute rest period as required under the Order, his or her employer must pay an additional 10 minutes of wages for each missed rest period. Two 5 minute breaks are permissible in lieu of the 10 minute breaks if they are actual breaks. This rule doesn’t apply to exempt employees.

5. Healthy Family and Workplaces Act:

All employers in Colorado with 16 or more employees, effective 1/1/2021, must offer paid sick leave pursuant to the following provisions:

All employees are eligible for sick leave. Employees who work less than part time including temporary or seasonal employees accrue .033 hours of sick leave for every hour worked.

Employees are allowed to use accrued sick leave when:

The employee or employee’s family member:

Has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition that prevents the employee from working
Seeks a doctor’s care or diagnosis
Needs to obtain preventative medical care
Seeks medical attention, victim services, mental health services, or legal services as a result of domestic abuse, sexual harassment, or harassment.
If a public official has ordered school or business closures due to a public health emergency

Documentation may be required if leave is four or more consecutive work days. Sick requests may be made in whatever manner is reasonable for the employee.
Employees may use sick leave in hourly increments.

A copy of the act in its entirety follows:

https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/2020a_205_signed.pdf

If you have 16 or more employees, we emailed you about this the end of August with the updated version of your handbook to comply with the new law, and are updating our system to flip the switch on 1/1/2021 to ensure your PTO tables are also in compliance. If we did not reach out to you it is because you had less than 16 employees in 2020, but you will be subject to the act as of 1/1/2022 (when it applies to all Colorado employers). You will hear from us near August of 2021 if you are an employer with less than 16 employees regarding the updates.

We realize these are a lot of significant changes. We are here to support and educate, so please don’t hesitate to reach out with your questions. We are thinking of you and hope you are staying safe and healthy.

Monica Denler No Comments

IRS announces 2021 FSA Max

The IRS will not be increasing the maximum amount that can be contributed to a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) in 2021. The $2,750 max in 2020 will remain $2,750 in 2021. InTANDEM HR observes a “run off” period to enable participants to use remaining funds for two and a half-months following the end of the plan year. Look to use up your funds soon to avoid losing any available money!

Monica Denler No Comments

DOL issues FFCRA Revisions

The DOL has instituted revisions to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). These revisions take effect September 16, 2020.

The revisions clarify workers’ rights and employers’ responsibilities under the FFCRA’s paid leave provisions.

Specifically, he revisions:

Reaffirm and provide additional explanation for the requirement that employees may take FFCRA leave only if work would otherwise be available to them.

Reaffirm and provide additional explanation for the requirement that an employee have employer approval to take FFCRA leave intermittently.

Revise the definition of “healthcare provider” to include only employees who meet the definition of that term under the Family and Medical Leave Act regulations or who are employed to provide diagnostic services, preventative services, treatment services or other services that are integrated with and necessary to the provision of patient care which, if not provided, would adversely impact patient care.

Clarify that employees must provide required documentation supporting their need for FFCRA leave to their employers as soon as practicable.

Correct an inconsistency regarding when employees may be required to provide notice of a need to take expanded family and medical leave to their employers.

The changes can be found in detail at:

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/09/16/2020-20351/paid-leave-under-the-families-first-coronavirus-response-act

Monica Denler No Comments

Mask Mandate continued 30 more days

On September 12, Colorado Governor Jared Polis extended the statewide mask order through at least October 12, 2020. The mask order is being enforced. All employers must comply, and are being fined for each individual within a worksite who is not wearing a mask regardless of distancing indoors.

Excluded are:

People who are 10 years old and younger.
People who cannot medically tolerate a face covering.

We will update you if there are changes. Until then, please mask up!

Monica Denler No Comments

Colorado Mask mandate remains in effect until at least September 14, 2020

Reminder, according to covid19.colorado.gov/:

Is it ever OK to remove my mask at work?
What if I’m alone in my office with the door closed?
If you are the only person in a room with the door closed, then you may remove your mask. If someone else enters the room, please put your mask back on. You must wear a mask in common areas like hallways, elevators, or breakrooms.

Sitting at my cubicle spaced 6 feet away from my closest neighbor?
You must wear a mask in any shared, indoor space that accommodates people outside your household. This includes spaces divided by physically distanced cubicles. We require masks in such settings because Colorado has recently experienced outbreaks in indoor, office-based settings. We continue to encourage employers to prioritize work from home.

In the elevator? Break room? Hallway?
You must wear a mask in common areas like hallways, elevators, or breakrooms. If a common space is used for consuming meals (i.e., break rooms), follow restaurant guidance for that setting.

Monica Denler No Comments

Payroll Tax Delay Memorandum

On Saturday, the President issued an executive memorandum regarding a payroll tax delay. The
memorandum directs the Secretary of the Treasury to implement a delay of certain employees’
obligations to pay Social Security taxes. The payroll tax provision requires guidance to be issued by the
Department of Treasury. Until that guidance is issued, many of the details are unknown.
Below is a summary of the key provisions of the memorandum:
• The memorandum applies to the period September 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020.
• It is unclear whether employers are required to take advantage of the delay.
• The memorandum does not address what an employer should do if he decides to continue
withholding payroll taxes.
• The memorandum only applies to the 6.2 percent Social Security tax on employees.
• The memorandum only applies to employees generally earning less than $104,000
annually.
• The memorandum only provides a delay of the tax obligation, not forgiveness.
• No penalties or interest shall apply to those who use the delay.
• There is no relief with respect to employers’ withholding obligation.

It is important to keep in mind that Congress and the Trump Administration are still negotiating on a
potential COVID-19 relief measure, and that a compromise bill could supersede the President’s actions.
As this situation becomes clearer, we will update you on what to expect and what actions to take.