Government Agencies Shape Policies Around COVID-19 Relief Efforts

March 20, 2020

In addition to the new EEOC guidance, several other government entities have acted to provide relief during the coronavirus pandemic, including the National Labor Relations Board, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division, and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

NLRB suspends representation elections through April 3: The NLRB announced, “Due to the extraordinary circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Labor Relations Board today approved the suspension of all representation elections, including mail ballot elections, for the next two weeks effective immediately, through and including April 3, 2020.”

OFCCP issues "national interest exemptions" to facilitate COVID-19 response: Certain federal contractors under contracts to provide coronavirus relief are temporarily exempted from several equal opportunity and affirmative action requirements, including those under Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Section 4212 of the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act.

IRS advises that high-deductible health plans can cover coronavirus costs: High-deductible health plans (HDHPs) can pay for 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)-related testing and treatment, without jeopardizing their status, the IRS advised earlier this week.  The IRS has further allowed deferral of all non-corporate tax filers to July 15.

DOL’s Wage and Hour Division issues guidance for “preparing workplaces for coronavirus”:  The guidance covers practices regulated under both the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.  The guidance does not suggest that the Division will be altering enforcement practices for the time being.

What's ahead:  Assuming the pandemic intensifies, government agencies will take further action to facilitate relief efforts.