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Employer Mandate Delay

There has once again been another delay for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service announced yesterday that the ACA's health coverage Employer Mandate will be delayed another year, until 2016. This applies to employers with more than 50 but fewer than 100 employees working at least 30 hours per week. The rule provides employers far more flexibility than allowed by the language of the health law, which levies fines as high as $3,000 per worker for noncompliance.

How Does This Affect Me?

Employers with less than 50 employees: No impact, as this group size was not subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions previously.

Employers with 50-99 employees: If you do not provide full-time employees with quality affordable health insurance, you will not have to pay any employer responsibility penalties in 2015.  You will however still be subject to provide an employee & coverage report as outlined in ACA rules.  You will have until 2016 before the employer responsibility payments begin.

Employers with 100 or more employees: You are still subject to the Employer Mandate starting in 2015.


Final Rules Impacting Employers with 100+ Employees in 2015

Full-time Employee Measurements

The final rules remain unchanged from the proposed rules that allow employers to use an optional look-back measurement method to determine whether employees with varying hours and seasonal employees are full-time.

On a one-time basis, in 2014 preparing for 2015, plans may use a measurement period of six months even with respect to a stability period - the time during which an employee with variable hours must be offered coverage - of up to 12 months.

Affordability Safe Harbors

As with the proposed regulations, the final rules provide safe harbors for employers to determine whether the coverage they offer is affordable to employees, including the W-2 wages, employees' hourly rates, or the federal poverty level.

Other Provisions
Employers can determine whether they had at least 100 full-time of full-time equivalent employees in the previous year by reference to a period of at least 6 consecutive months, instead of a full year.

Employers with plan years that do not start on January 1 will be able to begin compliance with employer responsibility at the start of their plan years in 2015, rather than January 1, 2015.  The conditions for this relief are expanded to include more plan sponsors.

The policy that employers offer coverage to their full-time employees' dependents will not apply in 2015 to employers that are taking steps to arrange for such coverage to begin in 2016.