New York State Establishes Emergency Grant Program for Essential Workers

If you are an essential worker, first responder, or healthcare worker, you may be eligible for New York State’s Empire Pandemic Response Reimbursement Fund. Announced on March 6, 2021, the Fund was designed to help eligible essential workers who responded to the public health emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic and are in financial need. Up…

If You Received Unemployment Benefits in 2020, You May Be Entitled to a Tax Break

In March 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law an economic stimulus bill called the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”). The law includes a special federal tax break for workers who received unemployment benefits in 2020: the first $10,200 ($20,400 if married and filing jointly) of unemployment compensation is not taxable. This benefit applies to…

There’s Still Time to Buy Health Coverage – And It May Be More Affordable

If you are considering purchasing health coverage (perhaps using your $1400 stimulus payment) but haven’t yet, you still have time. In addition, that coverage might be less expensive. The 2021 Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment period to buy health coverage on the health insurance marketplace (also known as the exchanges) ended December 15, 2020….

Congress Extends A Lifeline To Troubled Pension Funds

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”) brings welcome news to multiemployer, union-sponsored defined benefit plans that have become insolvent or are in danger of becoming insolvent. See LR’s What You Need to Know Now here, which discussed the COBRA subsidy provisions of the ARPA. A defined benefit plan is the traditional form of…

New York Employees Can Take Paid Leave to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

On Friday, March 12, 2021, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill (S.2588A/A.3354B) that allows public and private New York employees to take paid time off to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Employees are permitted take up to four hours of leave per injection, meaning an employee who receives a vaccine that requires two doses…

Can’t Afford COBRA? Help Is on the Way (Temporarily)

Did you lose your job during the pandemic and previously had employer-sponsored health coverage? Well, paying for continued health coverage through COBRA is about to become affordable for workers, but only temporarily. Under COBRA, workers who lose job-based health coverage because of termination of employment (other than for gross misconduct) or reduction in hours, may…

U.S. Department of Labor Expands Eligibility for COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits, Including Workers Who Refuse to Work in Unsafe Conditions

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many workers have made the difficult choice not to return to an unsafe workplace or to decline a new offer of unsafe work to avoid the risk of catching the virus. On February 25, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released guidance announcing that individuals in these situations, in addition…

What Does Your Health Plan Have to Cover? New Federal Guidance on COVID-19 Testing and Vaccines

Earlier What You Need To Know Now postings here and here explained that, under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and CARES Act, health plans are required to cover the cost of COVID-19 diagnostic testing and vaccination without any cost sharing (co-pays, deductibles, coinsurance).  On February 26, 2021, in accordance with President Biden’s COVID-19 Executive…

OSHA Releases New COVID-19 Workplace Safety Guidance

On January 29, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released new guidance on best practices to mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. This guidance follows President Biden’s January 21, 2021 Executive Order calling for OSHA to issue new COVID-19-related workplace safety guidance. Looking ahead, the EO also called for…

NYC Expands Protections of Fair Chance Act for Employees and Applicants With Criminal Records

In January 2021, amendments strengthening the NYC Fair Chance Act became law and will take effect on July 29, 2021.  These amendments extend protections to employment applicants with pending criminal accusations and arrests, and convictions arising during employment. Employers may not inquire or act adversely against an applicant or employee with a non-pending arrest, adjournment…