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Employee Benefits IRS Releases 2021 Limits for Health Savings AccountsThe Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued Revenue Procedure 2020-32 which includes maximum contribution, deductible and out-of-pocket maximum limits for Health Savings Accounts and HSA-compatible high deductible health plans (HDHP) for the 2021 calendar year. These amounts are updated each year to reflect cost-of-living adjustments.

What is an HSA and who is eligible?
An HSA is a tax-exempt savings account that employees can use to pay for qualified health expenses. To be eligible for an HSA, one must:

  • Be covered by a qualified high deductible health plan (HDHP)
  • Not have any disqualifying health coverage (non-HDHP)
  • Not be enrolled in Medicare
  • Not be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return


The 2021 HSA max contributions have increased to: 

  • Single Coverage: $3,600 ($50 increase from 2020)
  • Family Coverage: $7,200 ($100 increase from 2020)


The 2021 HDHP Minimum Deductible*: 

  • Single Coverage: $1,400 ($0 change from 2020)
  • Family Coverage: $2,800 ($0 change from 2020)


2021 HDHP Maximum Out-of-Pocket Limit**: 

  • Single Coverage: $7,000 ($100 increase from 2020)
  • Family Coverage: $14,000 ($200 increase from 2020)


For those 55 and older, catch-up contributions remain at $1,000. 

* The deductible does not apply to preventative care services, nor to services related to COVID-19 testing. 

** If the HDHP is a non-grandfathered plan, a per-person limit of $8,550 also will apply due to ACA’s cost-sharing provision for essential health benefits. 

Employee Benefits What to Do if an Employee Tests Positive for CoronavirusIt’s very likely that if you’re considering reopening your office—or if you already have—that you’ve taken the time to communicate a return-to-work action plan to your employees.

Likewise, it’s recommended that all employers consult a reopening checklist to ensure that they’re keeping their team as safe as possible before and during the first phases of workplace re-entry.

Consider the following CDC recommendations for workplace reopening:

  • Employees must remain six feet apart at all times
  • Employees must be masked while in the office
  • Additional disinfection services must be offered
  • Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the office

 

Yet even these measures may not completely mitigate the risk of spread within the workplace—particularly if you or an employee unknowingly contracts the virus outside of the office.

Before an Employee Tests Positive
First, it’s vital that you already have a plan in place even before an employee tests positive for COVID-19. According to the CDC, all employers should implement plans that are specific to their workplace, identify all areas and job tasks with potential exposure to COVID-19, and include measures to limit or eliminate such exposure.

With proper preparation, you’ll be able to move quickly so that you’re proactively protecting your team and customers (if applicable). It’s even recommended that each workplace identifies a teammate to handle COVID-19-related responsibilities.

Remember also that there are questions that you can and can’t ask employees regarding their health status and the pandemic. The last thing an organization needs on top of a coronavirus outbreak is a lawsuit claiming that you’ve infringed on your employees’ rights.

What Should I Do if an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19?
While every case represents a unique instance of infection—as every office and industry are different—stick to the following CDC-recommended measures once a team member tests positive (or is suspected to have a COVID-19 infection):

  1. If the sick worker has been in the office within the past seven days, close off any areas used for prolonged periods of time by that individual
    • If the sick worker has not been in the office within the past seven days, additional disinfection is not necessary
    • If you have a small office where all teammates are co-mingled, employers should treat the entire space as infected and revert to remote work until the office has been properly disinfected and exposed employees have worked from home and self-monitored their symptoms for 14 days (see step #5 for more details)
  2. Wait 24 hours (or as long as possible) before disinfection to prevent exposure to respiratory droplets in the infected area
  3. Open windows and doors during the 24-hour waiting period to increase air circulation
  4. Identify which employees may have been exposed and inform them of their potential exposure (but keep details confidential as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act)
  5. Follow the CDC’s Public Health Recommendations for Community-Related Exposure, including instructing employees to work from home for 14 days following last exposure
  6. While no specific CDC guidelines exist for reopening after 24 hours, employers should consider following procedures similar to their initial reopening, as well as the previous points listed above

Note: The CDC says that “employers should not require a COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or to return to work,” as many healthcare providers may be backed up and unable to provide this kind of documentation in a timely manner. 

We will continue to share information as it becomes available and keep you informed.

Ryan Laude is a Client Advisor at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in employee benefits. Ryan works with a wide range of businesses to create the best funding options that fit their needs. Comments and questions are welcome at rlaude@gulfshoreinsurance.com

OSHA 1

OSHA has recently published a new Guidance on Returning to Work document for “non-essential” businesses planning to reopen.

While OSHA has published this as a guide – and stresses that no new standards or regulations are being created – it does revisit and mention several existing mandatory health and safety standards, and cites applicable labor, disability, and employment laws including the following:

  • General Duty Clause
    Requires employers to provide their employees a workplace that is free from recognized hazards that can cause death or serious physical harm
  • Employee Exposure and Medical Records
    Requires employers to adequately secure medical records for the duration of the employee’s tenure plus 30 years and follow confidentiality requirements. This regulation may impact employers that implement health screenings or temperature checks that are documented.
  • What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws
    Includes a section of technical questions and answers, how to properly conduct screenings, what applicable regulations exist, and best practices for “Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace.”

 

OSHA’s return to work publication also revisits the phases of reopening and stresses the importance of adhering to the enforcement and requirements of the Federal Government, state and local governments (including state-OSHA plans), as well as following public health recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The list of guiding principles from OSHA’s latest publication are summarized below:
The principles were designed to assist employers with developing best practices, while stressing the importance of communication and effective employee training. Please note, these principles are not considered complete. To further this point, OSHA has provided additional recommendations and guidance on COVID-19 preparation.

  • Hazard Assessment
    Review job duties and determine potential workplace exposures to COVID from customers, visitors, or co-workers
  • Hygiene
    Have soap, water, paper towels, and/or hand sanitizer dispensers available for occupants to use and encourage frequent hand washing through signage and ease of access. Identify high-traffic areas and schedule frequent cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces
  • Social Distancing
    Limit the total number of occupants to ensure safe distances can be kept. Mark floors in six-foot sections, provide lanes or traffic-flow indicators (i.e. arrows) where width or space is an issue, and have signage up reminding occupants to keep safe distances
  • Identification and Isolation
    Ask employees to self-monitor for symptoms or potential exposures before coming to work. Establish a protocol in the event an employee becomes ill while at work and needs to be isolated
  • Return to Work after Illness or Exposure
    Refer to the CDC Guidelines for returning to work after an illness or exposure.
  • Controls
    Develop appropriate controls to protect workers and minimize potential exposures. This can include erecting physical barriers, establishing new Standard Operating Procedures, re-evaluating Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements, and limiting capacity in areas through staggered shifts, or conducting meetings in virtual environments
  • Workplace Flexibilities
    If possible, provide work-from-home options to employees, and revisit sick leave, or vacation policies
  • Training
    Ensure that any training conducted is done so in the employee’s native language, and if formal, at their reading level. Training should also include best practices on workplace and self-hygiene, as well as proper use, disinfecting, and storage of PPE, along with its limitations
  • Anti-Retaliation
    Reassure employees that they will not be retaliated against for raising concerns about their safety or health. Review their rights with them and provide a list of who employees should contact if they have questions or concerns

 

Please refer to the Guidance on Returning to Work document to review Frequently Asked Questions with respect to COVID-19, and other services and programs made available by OSHA to assist employers in complying with their responsibilities under the law.

For your convenience, Gulfshore Insurance has compiled all COVID-19 resources to one area on our website. We will continue to update you as more information becomes available.

Work Comp Changes for COVID 19Under most state workers’ compensation (WC) laws, COVID-19 may be a compensable, work-related condition only if an employee can show that:

  • He or she contracted the coronavirus while performing services growing out of and incidental to his or her employment; and
  •  The disease arose out of that employment (work relatedness).

As of June 30, 2020, however, several states have made—or are in the process of making—changes that reverse this burden for certain employees. In general, these changes mean that it would be an employer’s burden to prove that an employee did not contract COVID-19 on the job, rather than the employee’s burden of proving that he or she did contract it on the job. While most of these changes apply only to certain types of workers—such as first responders, health care providers or those who are otherwise deemed “essential” some changes apply the new presumption more broadly.

Many states have also taken actions that aim to reduce the impact of COVID-19-related claims on an employer’s WC premium rates.

The Compliance Bulletin provides general information about the COVID-19-related changes made to state WC laws and policies.

Click here to download the legal update

We will continue to share information as it becomes available and keep you informed.

Ryan Laude is a Client Advisor at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in employee benefits. Ryan works with a wide range of businesses to create the best funding options that fit their needs. Comments and questions are welcome at rlaude@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Post-coronavirus Office Checklist

As organizations create return-to-work plans, many employers are reviewing best practices for their post-coronavirus office. By updating office layouts, encouraging new behaviors and expanding remote work options, employers can help prevent the spread of diseases and protect the health and safety of employees. Use this checklist as a guide when evaluating changes to your office.

Click here to download the checklist

This is a constantly evolving area, with new guidance being issued nearly every day. Gulfshore Insurance will continue to monitor the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation and provide updates as appropriate.