COBRA Amendments Under The American Recovery And Reinvestment Act Of 2009

COBRA Amendments Under The American Recovery And Reinvestment Act Of 2009 FEBRUARY 01, 2009 The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“the Act”), recently signed into law by President Obama, contains provisions regarding COBRA benefits that require prompt attention on the part of employers and health plan administrators. Below is a summary of some of the more significant provisions of the Act affecting COBRA continuation coverage. Primarily, the Act establishes a 65% subsidy of COBRA premiums for certain individuals. Under the new law, an employee who is otherwise a qualified beneficiary of COBRA coverage and who is (or was) involuntarily terminated between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009 is eligible for the premium relief. These eligible individuals will be treated as having paid their COBRA premiums in full if they pay 35% of the premium amount. The entity to which the premiums are payable will be reimbursed for the remaining 65% through a tax credit applied against its payroll tax assessments. Should the entity’s subsidy amount be greater than its payroll tax liability, the excess amount will be treated as an overpayment of taxes and either refunded or credited. Depending on the type of health plan involved, the...

Giving Back to the Future

 JANUARY 01, 2009 Volunteering time and expertise is an important component in our vibrant community-and good business to boot. Helping lead a great nonprofit organization is a privilege and an investment in our quality of life, personally and professionally. It’s hard to say who gets more out of it. Community service is a habit. Several years ago, when I lived in Windsor, Massachusetts, I served on the finance committee, Board of Selectmen, and Planning Board at various times. Those experiences and my work as a real-estate attorney have given me firsthand experience in the development pressures facing towns across the state. But more to the point, municipal service grounded me in my community and helped me understand the disconnect residents sometimes feel between a vibrant business community and our quality of life in the Berkshires. A healthy economy, healthy people, and healthy communities are all inextricably linked, and my community service today is focused on the organization I chair, the Trustees of Reservations. Despite the odd nineteenth-century name, the Trustees is very much an organization for today – and tomorrow – helping to preserve Massachusetts’s landscapes and landmarks for everyone, forever. Being involved – offering my time and expertise –...

New Massachusetts Law Mandates Triple Damages for Employer Wage and Hour Violations

New Massachusetts Law Mandates Triple Damages for Employer Wage and Hour Violations JULY 01, 2008 On April 14, 2008, the Massachusetts legislature passed a bill (Senate Bill 1059) entitled “An Act to Clarify the Law Protecting Employee Compensation”. This law amends Massachusetts’ wage and hour laws, and mandates that employees who prevail in an action under the Commonwealth’s complex wage and hour statutes collect treble damages – three times the amount of actual damages. The new law became effective July 13, 2008. This law is controversial as it makes treble damages mandatory for any violation of the wage and hour laws – even inadvertent violations and violations that occur despite an employer’s good faith efforts to comply with the Massachusetts wage and hour statutes. Until now, awards of treble damages were within the discretion of judges presiding over wage cases, who could take into account factors such as whether the employer acted in good faith or in willful violation of the laws. The automatic penalty imposed by the new law may encourage employees, and employees’ lawyers, to initiate large-scale class action lawsuits against employers in Massachusetts. The new law followed an interesting and unusual course. The Massachusetts Legislature initially submitted...

Cain Hibbard & Myers PC Supports Project Sprout

Cain Hibbard & Myers PC, Berkshire County’s oldest and most diversified law firm, announces its enthusiastic support of Project Sprout with a check for $1,000.00. Project Sprout, the brainchild of Monument Mountain Regional High School’s “Green Team”, is a sustainable food project with the ambitious plan of supplying organic fruits and vegetables to the school cafeterias of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District. Cain Hibbard has a long history of supporting public school initiatives. Lucy Prashker, a managing partner in the firm and an active member of the Berkshire County Enrichment Initiative, stated, “Project Sprout’s objectives — reducing our carbon footprint, promoting local agriculture, and getting healthier foods into our student cafeterias — are all extremely important ones. We were impressed not just by these objectives but by the freshness and determination that the students have brought to the project. The students’ energy, determination and can-do-it-ness are infectious and irresistible.”