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COVID-19 Update January 14, 2021

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Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted 232 to 197 for a historic second impeachment of President Trump, charging him with “incitement of insurrection” for his alleged role in the events of last week.

The Senate is currently on a recess break and is set to reconvene Tuesday – one day before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate trial would not be rushed and concluded, “There is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week.” He then pointed out that previous impeachment trials in the Senate have taken weeks, saying that even if the Senate came back into town and started immediately, the proceedings would likely clog the Senate floor and loom over the early days of Mr. Biden’s administration, at a time when he will be eager to have the chamber confirm members of his cabinet.

The president-elect is expected to lay out his plans this evening for an initial effort to combat the coronavirus and a subsequent one to address economic recovery. His $1.9 trillion stimulus package includes aid to small businesses, supplemental unemployment benefits, and another round of checks amounting to $1,400. Biden’s speech will stream from Delaware beginning shortly.

Marty Walsh, the mayor of Boston and President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to be the next secretary of the Labor Department could take on gig worker’s rights, unemployment insurance, and more emergency leave. If he is confirmed, he will face a wide range of issues, and SHRM has outlined their predictions here.

On December 7, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released for public comment a set of proposed rules limiting the value of incentives employers may use to encourage employee participation in wellness programs that track employees’ health data. If program incentives are too high, they would be considered to violate the ADA and GINA by coercing participation in these programs. A safe-harbor exception to the new limits is available for programs offered under a group health plan.

We attended Greater New Orleans (GNO), Inc.’s webinar earlier this week reviewing the most recent stimulus bill, and here are the slides from the presentation. If you have specific questions about anything covered, especially in regard to the new round of PPP loans and what is eligible for forgiveness, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued two opinion letters addressing whether an employer properly classified account managers as exempt from overtime pay and whether a private religious day care can pay its teachers on an exempt salary basis under the ministerial exception. DOL opinion letters describe how the agency would enforce statutes and regulations in specific circumstances presented by an employer, worker, or other party who requests the opinion.

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