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    • NEW COBRA RULES UNDER ARPA

      Under the new American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), starting April 1, 2021 the federal government will pay 100 percent of COBRA insurance premiums for eligible employees who lost their jobs and for their covered relatives through September 2021, allowing them to stay on their company-sponsored health plan. Employers will obtain the subsidy through a payroll tax credit against employers' quarterly taxes and will be responsible for paying health insurance carriers for the premiums.

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    • NEW VIRGINIA LEGISLATION - 2021

      The 2021 session of the Virginia General Assembly produced an additional flurry of employment-related laws.  The following are some of the more significant laws for many employers:

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    • MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE

      Effective May 1, the minimum wage in Virginia increases to $9.50 per hour.  Although the federal proposal to raise the national minimum wage to $15.00 did not survive the recent Congressional deliberations, last year’s Virginia General Assembly enacted legislation raising the minimum wage in Virginia gradually over several years to $15.00 per hour.  The first step is the increase to $9.50 per hour as of May 1, with the second step to $11.00 per hour effective January 1, 2022. 

       

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    • NEW STIMULUS LAW

      The new federal stimulus law known as the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 has now been passed by Congress, and President Biden is expected to sign it tomorrow, March 12.  The Act contains several provisions relating to employment which are worth noting.

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    • MARIJUANA IN THE WORKPLACE

      Most employers have policies in their employee handbooks prohibiting the use or possession of alcohol or illegal drugs in the workplace.  These policies also typically permit drug testing of employees in certain circumstances, and provide for discipline if an employee tests positive for banned substances.  In view of recent legislative developments in Virginia and nationally concerning marijuana, employers should revisit those handbook policies and determine whether any revision is appropriate. 

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    • Virginia May Ban Salary History Questions This Year

      tOne of the few employment-related laws introduced-but-not-passed in the 2020 General Assembly was a prohibition against some employers (25+ EEs) requiring a prospective employee to disclose their salary history, asking them about it on a job application or in an interview, or seeking that information elsewhere. The VEC would administer the new law, which would carry a civil penalty. 

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    • RECENT WORKPLACE COVID-19 DEVELOPMENTS

      Employers should note two recent developments concerning Covid-19 in the workplace.  First, Virginia’s permanent COVID-19 workplace safety and health rules took effect on January 27 after Governor Northam approved the standards adopted by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Safety and Health Codes Board the previous week.

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    • INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR CLASSIFICATION

           The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced a final rule clarifying the standard for classifying a worker as an independent contractor rather than employee  under the Fair Labor Standards Act.   The effective date of the final rule is March 8, 2021. 

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    • PAID LEAVE UNDER NEW STIMULUS LAW

      Most employers have been aware of the paid leave requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA has required employers with fewer than 500 employees to pay certain amounts of sick and family leave related to coronavirus.  The requirements of that law, however, expire on December 31, 2020.

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    • DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS FOR EMPLOYEES’ OFFENSIVE OUTBURSTS

      The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in recent years has issued a series of decisions protecting employee statements that included profane, sexist or racist comments, if those statements were made while employees were participating in protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).  Among other things, the NLRA protects employees' rights to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment. For example, the NLRB ruled that racist remarks made while picketing and a profane social media tirade were protected.
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