Employment Law and HR
Employment Law and HR Resources
As you are looking to make some business decisions with issues impacting your business, please take a look at the following options that may be available for you. The Frisco Chamber of Commerce is diligently working to continuously update this page as legislation is passed and information is received. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand explanations of how the resources found here impact individuals and different-sized businesses, by providing toolkits and links to much-needed documents!
The post Dependent Care Spending Accounts appeared first on ThinkHR on November 5, 2020.
Autumn has arrived. It’s the time of year when working parents have questions about Dependent Care Spending Accounts (DCSAs). How do they manage their 2020 account to avoid forfeiting funds at year-end? And how should they make open enrollment choices for 2021 when it’s hard to predict their childcare needs during the pandemic?
Employers and benefit advisors want to be ready with answers about this valuable benefit program. Here are some of the most common questions we help them answer:
1. What are the basic rules?
The concept is pretty simple. During open enrollment, you elect how much to set aside from your salary for the next year. The amount is taken in equal installments from your paychecks – on a pretax basis – and goes to your DCSA. Then you can use your account to reimburse yourself for eligible dependent care expenses, such as babysitting and daycare center costs. The money taken out of your pay is not taxed and neither are the DCSA reimbursement benefits, so you save money.
In exchange for the tax savings, though, the IRS imposes various rules on DCSAs. A key rule is that expenses must be work-related to qualify for reimbursement. That means you pay expenses for providers to care for your child’s “well-being and protection” so you can work. Children must be under age 13 (or disabled). If you’re married and filing jointly, both parents must be gainfully employed or looking for work (unless disabled or a full-time student).
Another critical rule is that amounts you contribute to the DCSA can only be used to reimburse eligible expenses. At the end of the plan year, any unused amounts are forfeited. This is called the “use or lose” rule. The plan may allow a short grace period after the year ends, so check with your employer for details.
DOL Releases New Back-to-School FFCRA Guidance Posted: 10 Sep 2020 08:14 AM PDT
Ever since it became clear that not all schools would be fully reopening for the new school year, employers and employees alike have been wondering how the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) would apply in the variety of new schooling scenarios. The Department of Labor has released several new Questions and Answers that address those issues, quoted below:
Question 98: My child’s school is operating on an alternate day (or other hybrid-attendance) basis. The school is open each day, but students alternate between days attending school in person and days participating in remote learning. They are permitted to attend school only on their allotted in-person attendance days. May I take paid leave under the FFCRA in these circumstances?
Yes, you are eligible to take paid leave under the FFCRA on days when your child is not permitted to attend school in person and must instead engage in remote learning, as long as you need the leave to actually care for your child during that time and only if no other suitable person is available to do so. For purposes of the FFCRA and its implementing regulations, the school is effectively “closed” to your child on days that he or she cannot attend in person. You may take paid leave under the FFCRA on each of your child’s remote-learning days.
Question 99: My child’s school is giving me a choice between having my child attend in person or participate in a remote learning program for the fall. I signed up for the remote learning alternative because, for example, I worry that my child might contract COVID-19 and bring it home to the family. Since my child will be at home, may I take paid leave under the FFCRA in these circumstances?
No, you are not eligible to take paid leave under the FFCRA because your child’s school is not “closed” due to COVID-19 related reasons; it is open for your child to attend. FFCRA leave is not available to take care of a child whose school is open for in-person attendance. If your child is home not because his or her school is closed, but because you have chosen for the child to remain home, you are not entitled to FFCRA paid leave. However, if, because of COVID-19, your child is under a quarantine order or has been advised by a health care provider to self-isolate or self-quarantine, you may be eligible to take paid leave to care for him or her. See FAQ 63.
Also, as explained more fully in FAQ 98, if your child’s school is operating on an alternate day (or other hybrid-attendance) basis, you may be eligible to take paid leave under the FFCRA on each of your child’s remote-learning days because the school is effectively “closed” to your child on those days.
Question 100: My child’s school is beginning the school year under a remote learning program out of concern for COVID-19, but has announced it will continue to evaluate local circumstances and make a decision about reopening for in-person attendance later in the school year. May I take paid leave under the FFCRA in these circumstances?
Yes, you are eligible to take paid leave under the FFCRA while your child’s school remains closed. If your child’s school reopens, the availability of paid leave under the FFCRA will depend on the particulars of the school’s operations.
Providing Non-FFCRA Leave and Flexibility
Although employees aren’t entitled to FFCRA leave if their child’s school is technically open and they choose remote learning, we encourage employers to work with employees who have chosen to keep kids home (as in Question 99), working out a flexible or reduced schedule as needed. If an employee has chosen to have their children attend school online only, it is likely because they feel the school is not safe or the risk of the child bringing the virus home and infecting a more vulnerable person is too high. If required to choose between working and keeping their family safe, many parents will choose safety, thus leaving their employer with a position to fill. Given the cost of replacing an employee (generally from 20 to 200 percent of their yearly salary), working out a flexible or reduced schedule with employees in this situation is likely the best choice for the company’s bottom line as well as its reputation.
This interim guidance by the Center for Disease Control is designed to help prevent workplace exposures to COVID-19 and outlines the role of business and employers. Read more.
If children and their parents can choose between in-person schooling or online schooling, can we
deny leave to employees who choose online schooling?
We don’t know yet. EFMLA can be used when a child’s school or place of care is “closed,” such that the child cannot
be there in person. This might suggest that if the option is available to attend in-person, that those choosing
online school would not be eligible for leave. However, we expect that many school districts will need a certain
percentage of students to take classes online to make in-person school possible at a sufficiently reduced capacity.
In effect, these schools will be “closed” to a certain portion of the student body and it may or may not matter
whether the parents chose the online option. We expect guidance from the Department of Labor soon that will
answer this question definitively.
If kids are going to school in-person two days a week and doing school from home three days a week, do we have to give a parent three days a week off or can we refuse intermittent leave?
We recommend extreme caution when deciding to replace an employee who refuses to work because of concerns about COVID-19. Generally, employees do not have a right to refuse to work based only on a generalized fear of becoming ill if their fear is not based on objective evidence of possible exposure. However, under the current circumstances, where COVID-19 continues to be a threat across the country, we think it would be difficult to show that employees have no reason to fear coming in to work, particularly but not exclusively in a location with a shelter-in-place rule. Returning employees may also have certain rights under state and federal law. Here are few things to keep in mind...Read more
Texas Workforce Commission - Resources for EmployersAt present, the U.S. government and Texas legislature have not changed any laws or rules concerning unemployment benefits during the pandemic. However, Department of Labor guidance provides that federal law permits significant flexibility for states to provide Unemployment Insurance (UI) services related to COVID-19. Based on this, TWC will be waiving work search requirements for all claimants and the waiting week for those claimants affected by COVID-19. Also, Extended Benefits (EB) and Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) are NOT available at this time.
Texas Workforce Commission Encourages Employers to Enrolled in Shared Work Program
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) encourages employers to enroll in Shared Work program as an alternative to layoffs. The voluntary Shared Work program was developed to help Texas employers and employees withstand a slowdown in business such as the impact of COVID-19.
Shared Work allows employers to supplement their employees’ wages lost because of reduced work hours with partial unemployment benefits. Under the program employers can reduce normal weekly work hours for employees in an affected unit by at least 10 percent but not more than 40 percent. Shared Work unemployment benefits are payable to employees who qualify for and participate in an approved Shared Work Plan. Workers may choose not to participate. Employees who qualify will receive both wages and Shared Work unemployment benefits.
The employer can use the Shared Work Plan only for employees whose hours have been reduced. Shared Work benefits can be paid only for wages lost because of a reduction in the employee's regular hours. Regular hours may not exceed 40 hours. An employee who normally works overtime may not receive shared work benefits for a reduction in their overtime hours.
- Submit their unemployment claims on Unemployment Benefits Services
- Be eligible for regular unemployment benefits
- Accept all work offered by the participating employer
- Be able and available for work with the employer
For more information on the Shared Work Program or to apply for the program, click here.
Coronavirus Response Act
You can view an overview of the Coronavirus Response Act here courtesy of Lone Star Benefits, Inc. and Simon | Paschal, PLLC. Included are updates on:
- Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (effective 4/1/20)
- Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (effective 4/1/20)
- Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization and Access Act of 2020
- Existing Laws, Q&A and HDHP's - (COVID-19)
The Department of Labor has indicated that they will not institute enforcement against companies for purported violations of the law through April 17, 2020 as long as employers are attempting good faith compliance with the law. This generally means that employers must remedy any violations about which they become aware, not engage in any willful violations, and confirm to the DOL in writing that they will comply with the law (in the event of notification of a violation). We only outline this to let you know that there will be some breathing room for you since the regulations interpreting the law won't be released until early April. Read the DOL bulletin here.
The DOL has released the required poster/notice related to the new law. It must be placed in a conspicuous place in the workplace, be emailed or direct mailed to employees, or posted on an internal or external website available to employees. Download the most current FMLA Poster here.
Watch "Conversation at the Chamber Episode 4" which covers important employment law and health benefit updates.
Coronavirus Paid Leave Program - Employer Guide
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act created new temporary paid sick leave and paid Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) programs that are 100% reimbursable by the federal government. The effective date of both programs is April 1, 2020 and they expire on December 31, 2020.
Both programs are in addition to any leave you already offer. View this guide here.
Dallas HR - Complimentary Resources for all HR Practitioners
A moment like this is difficult on many when information changes daily and the lives and livelihood of our community is drastically different. During these unprecedented times, DallasHR is committing to support any local human resource practitioner by offering complimentary services traditionally provided to our members only. Beginning now until June 1, the Chapter is offering all practicing human resource professionals many of the benefits our members utilize on a daily basis. Click here for more information.