March 2021
HR & Safety News, Insights and Updates
Consultstu LLC delivers fractional human resources services to small/mid businesses.
Our monthly newsletter keeps keeps clients and friends up to date on important
law updates, news and trends. 
Biden's American Rescue Plan Provides COBRA Subsidies
President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), with a $1.9 Trillion dollar price tag, that includes new COBRA continuation coverage election, notice, and subsidy requirements and some cost-saving benefit opportunities employees may be able to leverage. Some of these changes are required and may take effect as early as April 1, 2021, requiring immediate action by employers (or their insurers or administrators). Qualifying Assistance Eligible Individuals ("AEI") will pay no cost for monthly COBRA premiums for medical, dental, or vision coverage if the individual is eligible for COBRA coverage during the subsidy period. Read more.
FFCRA (Paid COVID leave) Extended Through September 30th
The ARPA extends the tax credits available for employers who voluntarily provide FFCRA leave from March 31, 2021 to September 30, 2021. It provides the tax credits that are available for paid sick leave and paid family leave, and for additional qualifying reasons:
  • employee obtaining immunization (COVID vaccine);
  • employee recovering from an illness related to the receipt of the COVID vaccine
  • employee waiting for COVID diagnosis or test requested by their employer
Employers must be non-discriminatory when providing paid leave (no tax credit if employers do not apply paid leave plan universally to all eligible). Most importantly, the law re-sets the 10 day limit for the tax credit beginning April 1, 2021. Read more.
Employee Retention Tax Credit - Does Your Business Qualify?
Employee retention credits are being extended into 2021. The revenue reduction requirement is now lower and businesses that received a PPP loan are now eligible to apply. Eligible employers receive payroll tax credits if they keep their employees on payroll throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The CARES Act introduced tax credits for maintaining your payroll. In 2020, it entitled employers to a credit worth 50% of the qualified wages of employees. But in 2021, this amount has been increased to 70%. Read more to learn about how you can significantly lower your federal quarterly payroll tax bill. New IRS Guidance on Employee Retention Credit.
Company Culture is Everyone's Responsibility
The Human Resources department can help create an effective company culture. HR can design a campaign to promote the company mission and core values developed by the owner and CEO. HR may also implement employee perks like free snacks in the break room or monthly birthday celebrations. However, culture is more than free snacks and recognition, and completing the HR "to do" list is not the beginning and end.

A new culture-building approach is already in place at some organizations, one in which everyone in the organization is responsible. Read more about this approach.
HR Question: What is the minimum salary for an exempt employee?
Answer: $684 per week. To qualify for the overtime exemption, employees generally must be paid at not less than $684 per week on a salary basis. These salary requirements do not apply to outside sales employees, teachers, and employees practicing law or medicine. Exempt computer employees may be paid at least $684 on a salary basis or on an hourly basis at a rate not less than $27.63 an hour. Read the DOL Fact Sheet.