FFCRA and Unemployment Updates 3-25-20

We have a number of updates for you this morning:

  • 3rd Stimulus Bill
    • As you may have seen an agreement was reached in the Senate on the 3rd stimulus bill and passage is anticipated today.  We have not been able to locate the actual text of the bill yet, but as soon as we do we will provide additional information on this. 
    • While there are headlines stating there may be issues in the House passing the bill with unanimous consent (the fastest way to pass a bill), we don’t anticipate that will ultimately be the case and that it will pass quickly. 
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act
    • The DOL released a limited amount of guidance yesterday and confirmed the bill will not be retroactive and that it will take effect 4/1.  The also released information for employers, employees, and a FAQ document.  We encourage you to distribute the employee information to your colleagues. 
  • Miller Johnson Unemployment and Benefits Webinar
    • This was a very informative session and you will be able to find the recording here in the next few hours. 
    • Here again is the Miller Johnson Coronavirus homepage with a lot of good information. 
    • Here are key questions answered during the session:
      • How long will it take employees to get unemployment comp?  2.5 to 3 weeks.  They should file ASAP and will not receive their first check until after the’ve filed with Marvin after the first two weeks that they’ve been actively looking for work. 
      • This next point is key, if an employer believes the leave will be short term/45 days or less they can file this in their MIWAM account which will help employees so that they don’t have to report that they are actively looking for work.
      • Fact sheet 160 which was released very recently will be very helpful to your employees who need to file for unemployment.  
      • As a result of the Governors executive order, individuals who are voluntarily out of work as a result of the coronavirus crisis will be considered involuntarily out of work and eligible for UE benefits. 
      • Employers shouldn’t be charged for unemployment as a result of the coronavirus, but don’t be surprised if you are.  It is likely you will need to push back on this due to the inability of the system to be nimble and take the executive order into account. 
      • The Workshare program may be a viable option for you and your employees and they cover this well in the session. 
      • A supplemental unemployment benefit plan (SUB plan) may be a very good way for employers to supplement an employees unemployment income.  Keep in mind these are ERISA Plans and need a plan document, and may need a 5500 filing.  Miller Johnson states it would only take 1-2 days to get the plan document in place but payroll changes might take a bit longer.  We encourage you to consult with their employee benefits team if you’d like to explore this. 
      • Finally, if an employer terminates employees as a result of this crisis then employees will be subject to the eligibility guidelines of their benefit plan and COBRA is their only option to maintain their employer plan.  If it is a temporary employer approved leave, then they likely can remain on part or all of your benefit plan.  
        • Most carriers have already announced they will allow employees to remain on plans even if they don’t meet the actively at work provisions.  We expect almost all carriers to do this, but we encourage you to double check to be safe (including stop-loss). 
        • Employers are able to have employees continue their portion of premium too and there are three main approaches: 
          • Waive it for them
          • Have them write a check for their portion
          • Have them repay their portion when they return to work. 

As you can see there were a lot of things covered today and we are more than happy to work through your specific situation with at any time.  
We will be in touch later today with an update on the stimulus bill.