Keeping track of COVID-19 laws affecting employee benefits, jobs

mature adult european couple sitting together at wooden table at home in their modern house in austria working in homeoffice during coronavirus crisis

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Pub. L. No. 116-136) is the largest relief package in American history and contains an array of retirement, health and welfare benefit provisions. Signed into law March 27, the CARES Act also modifies several healthcare, paid leave and coronavirus testing mandates enacted earlier by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (Pub. L. No. 116-127). To encourage employers to maintain payroll, the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program offers short-term financial aid to help cover related costs, including wages and health benefits. The latest relief act (Pub. L. No. 116-139), signed into law April 24, increases funding for and enhances several of the CARES Act’s payroll and healthcare programs. 

This GRIST provides highlights of the latest relief, along with a table summarizing key COVID-19 measures addressing employee benefits and employer aid. Download the full print-friendly PDF to view the full nine-page article with the table.

Highlights of the latest relief measure

The latest relief legislation, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (PPPHCEA), provides additional funding for COVID-19 testing and relief programs authorized by the CARES Act and the FFCRA. The measure also requires the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a number of new reports on COVID-19 testing and other important data points related to the coronavirus.

Funding provisions of the PPPHCEA include:

  • $310 billion to replenish the funds allocated for the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program
  • $75 billion in grants to eligible healthcare providers for healthcare-related expenses or lost revenues

─     Recipients may use these funds for various purposes, including building temporary structures or purchasing medical supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing supplies.

  • $25 billion for necessary expenses to research, develop, manufacture and expand COVID-19 testing

─     At least $11 billion of these funds will go to help states and localities cover necessary testing expenses — including employers’ testing costs — and to scale up testing by public health, academic, commercial and hospital labs.

  • $1 billion in for COVID-19 testing for the uninsured

To track and manage the pandemic, the legislation requires HHS to:

  • Starting May 15 (21 days after the law’s enactment), provide a report on COVID-19 testing — with updates every 30 days until the public health emergency ends — that gives information on the number and rates of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, including demographic breakdowns by race, ethnicity, age, sex and geographic region
  • Provide a COVID-19 strategic testing plan by May 26 (30 days after the law’s enactment) and update it every 90 days
  • Provide a report by Oct. 22 (180 days after the law’s enactment) on the number of COVID-19 positive diagnoses, hospitalizations and deaths

Key benefit- and job-related provisions of COVID-19 relief acts

Download the full print-friendly PDF to view the full nine-page article with a table summarizing significant employment-related provisions in COVID-19 relief legislation, including measures affecting:

  • Retirement plans
  • Health benefits
  • Paid leave benefits
  • Other health, welfare and retirement benefit requirements
  • Tax credits and other financial aid for employers
Brian Kearney
by Brian Kearney

Principal, Mercer’s Law & Policy Group

Margaret Berger
by Margaret Berger

Principal, Mercer’s Law & Policy Group

Cheryl Hughes
by Cheryl Hughes

Principal, Mercer’s Law & Policy Group

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