The Department of Labor (the “DOL”), the Treasury Department (the “Treasury”), and the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”)  have recently issued guidance extending certain deadlines and providing certain relief for retirement plans in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Discussed below are (1) EBSA Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01, (2) DOL “COVID-19 FAQs for Participants and Beneficiaries,” (3) IRS Notice 2020-23, and (4)  IRS “Coronavirus-related relief for retirement plans and IRAs questions and answers.”
Continue Reading Guidance and Relief for Retirement Plans Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Updated August 31, 2020

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, which established, in relevant part, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a loan program that offers eligible borrowers the potential for loan forgiveness. For more information on the PPP and other CARES Act lending programs, click here, and for information about applying for PPP loans, click here.

On June 5, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (the Flexibility Act), which amends the CARES Act to make certain changes to PPP loans and to provide more flexibility to borrowers. For an overview of the changes made by the Flexibility Act, click here. To the extent available, this blog post has been updated to incorporate the changes made by the Flexibility Act.


Continue Reading Applying for Loan Forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

Updated August 31, 2020

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, which provides for various economic stimulus measures, including a new loan program regulated by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) called the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). You can read more about the PPP and the other stimulus programs here.

On June 5, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (the Flexibility Act), which amends the CARES Act to make certain changes to PPP loans and to provide more flexibility to borrowers. For an overview of the changes made by the Flexibility Act, click here. This blog post has been updated to incorporate the changes made by the Flexibility Act.

On July 4, 2020, President Trump signed into law a bill that extends the application period for PPP loans from June 30, 2020, to August 8, 2020, which provides eligible borrowers additional time to contact participating lenders to facilitate a PPP application.


Continue Reading Applying for a Loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

Day-to-day life has been dramatically impacted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and many businesses have been forced to close or limit their service to slow the spread of COVID-19. In response, Congress has passed several pieces of legislation to assist individuals and businesses affected by the virus.


Continue Reading COVID-19 Federal Legislative Response

Previous regulations on hardship distributions from 401(k) and 403(b) plans generally provided that a participant could receive an in-service distribution prior to reaching age 59½ if the participant had an immediate and heavy financial need.  The determination of whether a participant had an immediate and heavy financial need was determined based on all relevant facts and circumstances.  However, to simplify administration, the regulations provided for safe-harbor hardship withdrawals that were deemed to be an immediate and heavy financial need.

Late last month, the IRS published final regulations that significantly relaxed some of the requirements under the  safe-harbor provisions.  Some of the changes are mandatory and some are permissive.  The changes are discussed in detail below.

Continue Reading New Final Regulations on Hardship Distributions from 401(k) and 403(b) Plans

On June 13, 2019, the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Treasury (the “Departments”), published final regulations which significantly broaden the types of health plans that may be integrated with a health reimbursement arrangement (“HRA”). More specifically, beginning January 2020, the finalized rules allow HRAs to be integrated with certain qualifying individual health plan coverage and/or Medicare.  The final rules reverse current guidance which requires HRAs to be integrated with only qualifying group health plan coverage. Practically speaking, this means that employers, beginning in 2020, will be allowed to subsidize employee premiums in the individual health insurance market and/or Medicare using pre-tax dollars, provided certain conditions are met. The final rules also allow certain HRAs to reimburse participants for certain premiums paid for excepted benefits. To achieve these results, the final rules create two new types of HRAs.


Continue Reading New Final Regulations Expand the Availability of HRAs

Today the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in this landmark case concerning punitive damages.  The six justices in the majority opinion reversed the Ninth Circuit and resolved a circuit split on this issue.  The question presented was whether punitive damages may be awarded to a Jones Act seaman in a personal injury suit alleging a breach of the general maritime duty to provide a seaworthy vessel.  Justice Alito wrote the majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, Justices Thomas, Kagan, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh.  Justice Ginsburg dissented, joined by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor.

Continue Reading SCOTUS Decides Dutra Group v. Batterton

In a decision that could have far-reaching implications, the United States Supreme Court issued a June 10 opinion holding that California’s wage-and-hour laws do not apply to workers on oil and gas platforms located in open water on the Outer Continental Shelf. The plaintiffs in Parker Drilling Management Services, Ltd. v. Newton, were offshore rig workers who filed a class action asserting that their employer violated California’s minimum wage and overtime laws by failing to pay them for stand-by time while they were on the drilling platform. Both parties agreed that the platforms were governed by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (“OCSLA”), but they disagreed regarding whether the California’s wage-and-hour laws were incorporated into OCSLA and therefore applicable to workers on the platform.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Holds State Wage and Hour Laws are Inapplicable to Offshore Drilling Platforms

On August 30, 2017, in Announcement 2017-11, the IRS provided retirement plan loan and distribution relief from retirement plans described in Code Sections 401(a) (including 401(k) plans), 403(a), 403(b), and governmental eligible deferred compensation plans described in 457(b) (collectively “Retirement Plans”) to affected participants.
Continue Reading IRS Announces Plan Loans, Hardship Distributions Relief For Victims Of Hurricane Harvey