DOJ Issues Guidance on Opioid Addiction and the ADA
On April 5, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued guidance on how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can protect individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) and other drug addictions from discrimination.
The ADA is a federal law that prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against individuals based on disability.
Drug Addiction as a Disability Under the ADA
The DOJ’s guidance explains that individuals with OUD typically qualify for ADA protection because drug addiction is a physical or mental impairment that often substantially limits one or more major life activities. Individuals in recovery from drug addiction may also qualify for ADA protection if they would be limited in a major life activity without treatment or services to support recovery.
Exception for Current Illegal Use of Drugs
The ADA’s protections do not apply if an individual is engaged in the “current illegal use of drugs.” This is generally defined as illegal use occurring recently enough to justify a reasonable belief that this use is current or that continued use is a real and ongoing problem. The definition does not include the use of a prescribed medication under the supervision of a licensed health care professional.
The DOJ guidance clarifies that employers may implement reasonable policies or procedures, including drug testing, designed to ensure individuals are not engaging in current illegal drug use.
Preventing discrimination based on drug addiction is a key part of the DOJ’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.
Cybercrime and Benefits Plans
According to recent estimates from the University of Maryland, a cyberattack occurs every 39 seconds. Data breaches and cyberattacks are daily headlines—and employee benefits plans are no exception to that threat. Organizations and benefits providers are relying heavily on electronic access, ultimately creating new vulnerabilities. Some examples of cyberthreats include phishing, malware and ransomware attacks
Virtually any type of employee benefits plan is vulnerable to hackers. These plans can be exposed to risks relating to privacy, security and fraud. Sensitive information contained in benefits plans is valuable to cybercriminals.
Lost or stolen mobile devices, laptops and flash drives that hold personal information are additional tangible threats to benefits plans. These situations are especially concerning now that more employees are working from home. Given the new remote-working landscape as a result of the pandemic, plan sponsors should, at minimum, consider updating work-from-home policies to include cybersecurity clauses.
Overall, always be prepared for the worst to happen. In the unfortunate event of a security breach, it’s important to be prepared with a basic communication and action plan. Reach out to discuss your cybersecurity concerns, including cyber risk coverage levels and general best practices.
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Telehealth Coverage for HDHPs Extended
A spending bill recently signed into law extends the ability of high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) to provide benefits for telehealth or other remote care services before plan deductibles have been met without jeopardizing health savings account (HSA) eligibility. This extension applies to any telehealth services from April 2022 through the end of the year.
HSA contribution rules limit the types of health coverage that eligible individuals may have. As a general rule, telemedicine programs that provide free or reduced-cost medical benefits before the HDHP deductible is satisfied are disqualifying coverage for purposes of HSA eligibility.
However, effective in 2020, for plan years beginning before 2022, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) allowed HDHPs to provide benefits for telehealth or other remote care services before plan deductibles have been met. This meant that HDHPs could provide coverage for telehealth services before the minimum deductible was reached without jeopardizing plan participants’ eligibility for HSA contributions. This rule expired for plan years beginning in 2022.
Impact of the Extension
Under the extension, HDHPs may choose to waive the deductible for any telehealth services from April 2022 through the end of 2022 without causing participants to lose HSA eligibility. This provision is optional; HDHPs can continue to choose to apply any telehealth services toward the deductible.
Note that telemedicine services provided between Jan. 1, 2022, and April 1, 2022, must still be counted toward the HDHP deductible to avoid impacting participants’ eligibility for HSA contributions.
Sick Policy In the Workplace
In the name of productivity, it can be tempting to allow a sick worker to come into the office. But an outbreak of influenza or other infectious disease can greatly hinder the productivity of your entire workforce for many days or even several weeks.
The workplace environment is an ideal conduit for germs to spread even when only a single person is sick. Studies conducted by the University of Arizona track the progress of viruses from one individual in an office setting. In just 4 hours of routine office activity, half of all commonly touched surfaces as well as half of all employees were infected by at least one of the carried viruses.
Commonly touched surfaces in the office that aid in the spread germs include: doorknobs, copy machine buttons, office refrigerator, coffee pot handle, telephones, desktops, and tabletops.
With simple office intervention methods, risk of infection drop below 10%.
- Make tissue boxes and hand sanitizer accessible throughout the office and restock them often.
- Leave disinfecting wipes out in common areas, like the breakroom or meeting rooms.
- Encourage employees to wash their hands after contact with one another and prior to going on lunch break.
- Please encourage sick employees to stay home, and remain at home until they are symptom free for 24 hours.
Sick Leave Policy Compliance
When was the last time you referenced or updated your sick leave policy in the employee handbook? Revisit this important section, and ensure your policy clearly states:
- Eligibility rules
- Whether sick leave is paid or unpaid.
- How many days of paid/unpaid leave are provided to employees each year.
- Rules for sick leave carry-over days.
Finally, ensure your sick leave policy is compliance with FMLA and state paid sick leave laws
The content herein is provided for general information purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or other advice or opinions on any matters. This information has been taken from sources which we believe to be reliable, but there is no guarantee as to its accuracy.
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