The health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic continue to challenge employers in managing health and leave benefit issues for the coming year. Human resources consulting firm Mercer has compiled what it calls the top 10 compliance-related priorities for 2021 health and fringe benefit planning, along with recommendations for general actions employers can take.

Mercer counsels keeping a close eye on the COVID-19 relief package as negotiations intensify over the next several weeks. Some policy priorities that may end up in a relief package include fully subsidized continuation of employer-sponsored health coverage under COBRA, eased restrictions on cafeteria plans and flexible spending arrangements, and measures that would end surprise medical bills and enhance employers' abilities to offer telehealth services. The urgency of the moment may lead to enacting relief despite the seemingly remote possibility of bipartisan agreement.

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Richard Binder

Richard Binder, based in New York, is part of the social media team at ALM. He is also a 2014 recipient of the ASPBE Award for Excellence in the Humorous/Fun Department.