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Weekend Roundup: COBRA Deadline, Drug Testing, EEOC Disability Laws

In today’s Weekend Roundup, federal agencies issue new guidance that extends “outbreak period” relief deadlines.  And although the COVID-19 pandemic has created hesitation as far as workplace drug testing is concerned, it can still be done in a safe and effective manner. Lastly, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has yet to answer if employers have obligations under disability laws for COVID-19 infection among their workforce. Click the headlines below to learn more.

Agencies Revise—and Complicate—COBRA Deadline Extensions

Federal agencies issued new guidance addressing pandemic-related extended deadlines for electing COBRA health care continuation coverage and for filing health plan claims and appeals, among other issues, but some are warning that the new relief will be administratively burdensome for employers and plan administrators. On Feb. 26, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Treasury and IRS issued Notice of Extension of Certain Timeframes for Employee Benefit Plans, Participants, and Beneficiaries Affected by the COVID–19 Outbreak. At the same time, the DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration issued Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01. Together, the new guidance adjusts earlier deadline extensions for COBRA and other affected benefits plans that were set to expire March 1.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Drug Testing

The COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for what could be the greatest economic collapse of all time. Since March 1, 2020, thousands of businesses have been forced to close their doors—at least temporarily—causing literally millions of Americans to become unemployed. Now, over half a year later, employers are anxious to reopen their businesses and those who lost jobs are eager to find employment and get back to work.

While states are taking plans to reopen at different speeds, one constant remains—the question of workplace drug testing and safety during the pandemic. This article will give an overview of the general impact of COVID-19 on the industry, alternative testing methods during the pandemic and best practices for returning to work.

EEOC Putting Onus On Employers To Make Virus ADA Calls

A year into the coronavirus pandemic, employers still don’t have an answer from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on whether a COVID-19 infection triggers their obligations under disability laws. Absent clear guidance, experts say companies should play it safe. The EEOC, which is in charge of enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act among other anti-discrimination laws, has issued stacks of guidance on the virus since March 2020. But the agency has left employers guessing about whether a case of COVID-19—even one with severe, lingering symptoms—qualifies as a disability under the ADA.

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