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This Short List addresses the following topics:
  1. IRS Issues HSA-Compatible High Deductible Health Plan Guidance in Response to COVID-19
  2. San Francisco, CA: New Minimum Compensation Ordinance Rates Effective July 1
  3. New Jersey: Enforcement Guidance Released on Statewide Equal Pay Act
  4. New York: Workers on Strike Can File for Unemployment After Just Two Weeks
  5. Pittsburgh, PA: Revised Guidelines for Local Paid Sick Leave Available
  6. Utah: Private Employers Need Not Accommodate Medical Marijuana
  7. Virginia: Hairstyle, Type and Texture Protected from Racial Discrimination


IRS Issues HSA-Compatible High Deductible Health Plan Guidance in Response to COVID-19

In order to provide relief during the current COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS recently issued Notice 2020-15.  The notice allows health savings account-compatible high deductive health plans to cover COVID-19 related services, such as testing and treatment, without an annual deductible requirement, or with a lower deductible than is usually required under IRS regulations.  HDHPs do not need to be amended to provide this relief, but employers that would like to take advantage of this temporary flexibility should contact their claims administrators and provide notice to HDHP participants.


San Francisco, CA: New Minimum Compensation Ordinance Rates Effective July 1

Effective July 1, 2020, new rates go into effect under the San Francisco’s Minimum Compensation Ordinance (MCO).  The MCO applies to City contractors and subcontractors, who must pay covered employees a specified minimum compensation rate that is adjusted yearly based on the consumer price index.  For 2020, the for-profit rate increases to $18.24/hr (up from $17.66 in 2019) and the non-profit rate will be $16.50/hr, unless additional funds are approved by the City.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, amended rules and additional guidance concerning use of paid time off during the current health emergency were also published. These likewise become effective July 1, 2020. Employers should review the rules and guidance, and be prepared to procure and display new workplace postings and forms regarding the revised ordinance.  The Office of Labor Standards Enforcement will make new posters and forms available in early summer.


New Jersey: Enforcement Guidance Released on Statewide Equal Pay Act

The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR) released guidance on how it enforces policies concerning the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act, which prohibits employers from paying any member of a protected class less than employees who are not members of a protected class when performing substantially similar work. The guide includes information such as:

  • Explanation of the Equal Pay Act, and how it differs from federal equal pay regulations;
  • A FAQ section, answering common questions regarding covered employers and employees, definitions related to the terminology of equal pay for substantially similar work, permissible variations in pay, and more.
  • Guidance on completing employer self-evaluations;
  • Sample compensation worksheet form for no-range titles.

New York: Workers on Strike Can File for Unemployment After Just Two Weeks

Effective February 6, 2020, New York workers who are unable to work due to labor disputes – such as being on strike – are eligible to file for unemployment benefits after a reduced waiting period of just two weeks.  This change comes courtesy of Senate Bill 7310, which amended the previous suspension period of seven weeks plus a one-week waiting period to just 14 days.  Workers who are locked out or permanently replaced have to abide by the one-week waiting period only, and may be eligible to collect unemployment without any suspension period at all.


Pittsburgh, PA: Revised Guidelines for Local Paid Sick Leave Available

Pittsburgh’s long-awaited Paid Sick Days Act went into effect on March 15, 2020.  The Mayor’s Office of Equity (MOE) also revised its guidelines and released a set of FAQs to help employers with implementing the provisions of the Act.  Employers should review the guidelines and FAQ for clarity on a number of topics, including accrual caps, frontloading of sick time, employee notice and documentation requests, and sick leave for employees who work only occasionally in Pittsburgh.


Utah: Private Employers Need Not Accommodate Medical Marijuana

In response to Utah’s statewide medical marijuana program launch in March, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 121, which amends and clarifies parts of the regulations under the Utah Medical Cannabis Act.  Senate Bill 121 states that private employers are not required to accommodate use of medical cannabis, nor does the Act prevent employers from implementing workplace policies that restrict medical cannabis use among employees or applicants. However, private employers should still go through the interactive process to determine if reasonable accommodations (other than marijuana use) can be made for disabled employees or applicants.

However, protections for medical cannabis users are still in place for public sector employees and applicants, except where use of medical cannabis could jeopardize federal funding, a federal security clearance, or any other federal background determination required for the position or a license associated with the position.


Virginia: Hairstyle, Type and Texture Protected from Racial Discrimination

Effective July 1, 2020, HB 1514/SB 50 expands the Virginia Human Rights Act’s definition of racial discrimination to include hair texture, type, and protective hairstyles as traits that are associated with race.  Employers may not place workplace restrictions – such as banning or limiting – hair types, textures, or styles that are historically associated with race, such as afros, dreadlocks, braids, or knots. This legislation joins Virginia with California, New York, New Jersey and other individual counties in expanding anti-discrimination protections to workplace grooming and appearance policies.


Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2020 ManagEase

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