Skip to content
Photo of Guest Contributor

With special thanks to Amy Greer and Jennifer Klass for contributing to this post.

COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic in the US on March 13, 2020. Yet, even now, as we are over six months in to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis in the US, employers still continue to face challenges when navigating the sometimes daily changes in health and safety orders, updates from federal agencies, court decisions, and the proliferation of lawsuits. One of the key decision points for many employers is when to reopen, what should drive that decision, the legal risk of “getting it wrong” and how to mitigate that risk. Unlike retailers and restaurants, companies in the financial industry have largely avoided shutting down operations. However, that does not mean they have fully reopened. Where does the financial industry stand in its reopening? What should financial services companies be concerned about in terms of COVID-19 related guidance and recommendations, legal claims by employees, and how can companies mitigate these claims? What are specific COVID-19 related compliance issues unique to investment advisors and broker-dealers? We share our insights below.


Continue Reading For Financial Industry Employers During the Pandemic, “Risk” Takes on a Different Meaning

In an increasingly digital world, many employers are looking to rely less on paper and move to electronic systems. In recent years, the concept of electronic Form I-9 completion and maintenance has become an attractive option for companies looking to achieve this goal.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has provided some guidance relating to

In the wake of the economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, government investigations into perceived preferential treatment of foreign workers by U.S. employers is expected.

At-risk companies include those in industries that typically employ a higher number of foreign workers under H-1B, H-2A and H-2B visas, from technology and consulting to hospitality and food

Yesterday evening, the President signed a Proclamation expanding the restrictions outlined in the April 22 Proclamation in an effort to protect the U.S. workforce amidst the economic downturn related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Proclamation suspends the entry of any individual pursuant to H-1B, H-2B, L, and J nonimmigrant status, and their dependents (H-4, L-2, and J-2), until December 31, 2020. The Proclamation applies to individuals who are currently outside of the United States and are not in possession of a nonimmigrant visa or other official travel document valid as of June 24, 2020. In addition, the Proclamation extends the restrictions on the issuance of immigrant visas outlined in the April 22, 2020 Proclamation through December 31, 2020. This Proclamation contains a range of exceptions, which are detailed below.

The Proclamation is separate from Embassy and Consulate closures and COVID-19 related restrictions on travel to the US from certain countries, which continue to remain in effect. Yet, those measures must be read in conjunction the latest Proclamation. The June 22 announcement imposes further restrictions on the movement of foreign national employees into the United States that likely has a wider impact on US employers than the April 22 Proclamation.


Continue Reading Latest COVID-19 Related Presidential Proclamation on US Immigration Expands Restrictions and Impacts Nonimmigrant Visa Applicants Abroad

On June 19, 2020, the IRS released Notice 2020-50 (the Notice) which provides additional guidance on tax-favored distributions from retirement plans and expanded plan loan relief under the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” (the CARES Act).

As noted in our prior alert, the CARES Act provides that during the period January 1, 2020 to December 30, 2020, “qualified individuals” may take coronavirus-related distributions of up to $100,000 from their eligible retirement plans. A qualifying coronavirus-related distribution is not subject to the 10% additional tax on early distributions that would otherwise normally apply to distributions made before an individual reaches age 59 ½. In addition, a coronavirus-related distribution can be included in income ratably over the three-year period commencing with the year of distribution and the individual taking the distribution has three years to repay the distribution to the plan, if they so choose, which has the effect of reversing the tax income tax consequences of the distribution.

In addition, the CARES Act provides that plans may implement relaxed rules for qualified individuals relating to retirement plan loan amounts and repayment terms. Specifically, plans may suspend loan repayments that are due from March 27 through December 31, 2020, and the dollar limit on loans made between March 27 and September 22, 2020, is increased from $50,000 to $100,000.


Continue Reading Additional Guidance for Coronavirus-Related Distributions and Loans

As the global economy begins to reopen, employers must now plan for the complex issues presented by mobile employees. During this 25-minute moderated discussion focused on Spain, the Netherlands and the UK, our Global Immigration & Mobility lawyers from Madrid, Amsterdam & London explore the current landscape and anticipated challenges employers will face with business

With special thanks to our Australian colleagues Michael Michalandos and Carmel Foley for this post. 

This briefing contains a summary of everything an employer in Australian needs to know about the operation of the award system.

Why this is important?

We have prepared this briefing because there has been a high incidence of employers in the information technology industry failing to have regard to the application of modern awards in their workforce or misunderstanding how these awards operate. In particular, many employers have issued employment contracts which do not identify the applicable award and do not contain provisions which comply with the award.

This may result in a potentially serious compliance issue which could cost the business a significant amount of money in terms of back-payments, penalties, and potential reputational damage.


What is an award?

Modern awards (or, simply, “awards”) are industrial instruments created by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) that set and regulate minimum terms and conditions of employment for certain employees in Australia. Currently, there are 122 awards and almost all businesses in Australia will employ award-covered employees. Awards operate in a similar way to legislation and their application can only be circumvented in very limited circumstances.

Who do awards cover?

Awards generally fall into one of two categories: “industry awards” or “occupational awards.” Some awards apply on both an industry and occupational basis, for example the Professional Employees Award 2010 (Professional Employees Award) which, for example, covers engineers on an occupational basis but also covers employers operating in the “information technology industry” (as defined) on an industry basis.


Continue Reading A Quick & Timely Guide to the Australian Award System

The Department of Labor (DOL) issued final regulations establishing new safe harbors for the electronic delivery of required retirement plan disclosures under ERISA. As background, retirement plan administrators must deliver required disclosures using methods that are reasonably calculated to ensure actual receipt of documents by plan participants.

Under prior guidance from 2002, the DOL created

With many thanks to Chris Guldberg for this post. 

On May 12, 2020, the IRS released Notice 2020-29 (the “Notice”) providing greater flexibility to make mid-year election changes under Code Section 125 cafeteria plans during 2020 with respect to employer-provided health coverage and health and dependent care flexible spending accounts (“FSAs”). The notice also provides additional time in which unused amounts in FSAs can be used to pay expenses and avoid forfeiture.

Mid-year Election Changes

As background, cafeteria plans are the vehicle that allow employees to elect to pay their share of benefit premium costs for certain welfare benefits (for example, the employee premium portion paid for medical coverage) on a pre-tax basis rather than paying for those costs on an after-tax basis. In general, employee cafeteria plan elections must be made prior to the first day of the plan year and cannot be changed during the plan year except for specific change in status type events permitted under the relevant regulations (for example, the birth of a child).


Continue Reading Increased Flexibility for Taxpayers in Section 125 Cafeteria Plans in Response to COVID-19