Employment Law Compliance Updates for Small Businesses Blog

Employment Law Compliance Updates for Small Businesses

by Christy Arnold J.D., on June 15, 2021
It is important for small business owners to stay in the know of the latest regulations and utilize the support of an HR business partner to ensure their business stays in compliance during a time of changing regulations, increased risks, and an uncertain workforce. Here are several recent federal and state compliance updates for small businesses to be aware of.
Federal Updates
The IRS issued new guidance on employee retention tax credit.

On April 2, 2021, the IRS released new guidance for employers claiming the Employee Retention Credit under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) modified by the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 (Relief Act). Notice 2021-23 explains the changes to the Employee Retention Credit for the first two calendar quarters of 2021.

The IRS issued new guidance on tax relief for deductions for food and beverages from restaurants.

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service issued Notice 2021-25 on April 8, 2021 providing guidance on the temporary exception to the 50% limit on the amount that businesses may deduct for food or beverages. The temporary exception allows a 100% deduction for food or beverages from restaurants.
The DOL issued guidance, model notices implementing ARPA’s COBRA premium assistance provisions.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides for a 100% COBRA subsidy for “assistance eligible individuals” as defined in the Act for the period from April 1, 2021 – September 30, 2021 for many employer sponsored group health plans (including dental and vision plans) that are subject to federal COBRA requirements.  

On April 7, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor issued guidance including model notices and frequently asked questions.  There are several required notices that must be sent to the “assistance eligible individuals” and penalties do apply.  We are awaiting additional guidance from the Internal Revenue Service on the process to claim the related tax credit for the COBRA subsidy.
U.S. Court of Appeals decision affirmed lower court’s decision in wage dispute lawsuit.
The Department of Labor (DOL) brought a lawsuit against an employer claiming the employer failed to pay employees for pre-shift and post-shift work. Per the lawsuit, employees were regularly asked to show up to their shifts early to perform work tasks. The employer claimed it had a policy on the books stating that employees must report all time worked. However, several employees said they were discouraged from reporting time worked outside their scheduled shifts. The court concluded the company actually had a de facto policy not to pay workers for this time, which negated its official policy.
State Updates
Florida: Governor DeSantis signed bill expanding coronavirus liability protections for businesses.
On March 29, 2021, Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB72 – Civil Liability for Damage Relating to COVID-19 into law. The Florida law applies to civil actions regarding COVID-19 related claims and:
  • Provides protections for a business, government or other group if they made a “good faith effort to substantially comply with authoritative or controlling government-issued health standards or guidance at the time the cause of accretion accrued”.
  • Requires anyone filing a lawsuit to include an affidavit from a physician who can attest that their COVID-19-related injuries were caused, within a reasonable degree of medical certainty, by the party being sued.
  • Raises the standard of proof in these cases from the usual “preponderance of evidence” to “clear and convincing evidence.”
  • Requires an action to be filed within one year of an alleged COVID-19-related problem.  The new law does not affect COVID-19-related lawsuits that were filed prior to its enactment.

Florida: Governor Ron DeSantis signed executive order prohibiting businesses from requiring vaccine passport from patrons and customers.

On April 2, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Executive Order 21-81. The executive order prohibits businesses and governmental entities from requiring that patrons and customers show proof of vaccination to enter or receive service. The order does not prohibit businesses from instituting other COVID-19 screening protocols to protect public health and does not prohibit businesses from requiring their own employees from showing proof of vaccination. 
For most small businesses, HR administrative tasks take up an enormous amount of time and resources that could be dedicated to producing revenue. PEO services from LandrumHR empower clients to focus on growing their business. Contact our PEO team today to learn more about how our PEO services can make the business of people easier.
Christy Arnold J.D.

Christy Arnold serves as LandrumHR's Managing Director - General Counsel.

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