Hurry Up and Wait: Parts of the Affordable Care Act Are Further Delayed

The Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service recently released final regulations for employer responsibility provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that will delay parts of the employer mandate that require businesses with more than 50 employees working 30 hours or more per week to provide affordable health insurance coverage to workers. The final regulations are designed to allow a gradual phase-in of certain responsibility provisions that will assist employers in complying with and providing coverage during the transitional year of 2015.Specifically, larger businesses that employ 100 or more full-time workers (about 2% of all employers) are subject to the mandate starting in 2015. However, the final rules phase in the percentage of full-time employees that must be offered coverage from 70 percent in 2015 to 95 percent in 2016 and beyond. Employers who fail to meet these standards will be required to make an employer responsibility payment.

Mid-sized businesses that employ 50 to 99 full-time workers (also about 2% of all employers) will have another year to provide health insurance coverage to employees that complies with the ACA. These employers will not be required to make employer responsibility payments for failing to provide affordable coverage that meets ACA standards until 2016.

Small business that employ fewer than 50 full-time workers (about 96% of employers) are not impacted by the final regulations; these employers are not required to provide coverage at any time.

Although the delays impact only about 4 percent of all employers, these businesses employ about 72% of the work force.

This is the second time the ACA has been delayed. The initial ACA mandate provisions were scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2014, but were pushed back to January 1, 2015 in mid-2013.

The final regulations for employer responsibility provisions also provide clarification regarding whether certain types of employees or occupations are considered full-time. The rules state that bona-fide volunteers for government or tax exempt entities will not be considered full-time employees under the ACA. Teachers and other educational employees will not be treated as part-time simply because of summer closings. Services performed by students under state or federally sponsored work study programs will not be counted when determining full-time status. Further, seasonal employees who customarily work six months or less annually will generally not be considered full-time. Finally, the rules allow that for each hour of classroom or teaching time that an adjunct faculty member works can be credited as two hours and 15 minutes of work for the purpose of calculating full-time employment.

This blog is presented under protest by the law firm of Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP.  It is essentially the random thoughts and opinions of someone who lives in the trenches of the war that often is employment law–he/she may well be a little shell-shocked.  So if you are thinking “woohoo, I just landed some free legal advice that will fix all my problems!”, think again.  This is commentary, people, a sketchy overview of some current legal issue with a dose of humor, but commentary nonetheless; as if Dennis Miller were a lawyer…and still mildly amusing.  No legal advice here; you would have to pay real US currency for that (unless you are my mom, and even then there are limits).  But feel free to contact us with your questions and comments—who knows, we might even answer you.  And if you want to spread this stuff around, feel free to do so, but please keep it in its present form (‘cause you can’t mess with this kind of poetry).  Big news: Copyright 2014.  All rights reserved; yep, all of them.

If you have any questions about this article, contact the writer directly, assuming he or she was brave enough to attach their name to it.  If you have any questions regarding this blog or your life in general, contact Kelly O. Scott, Esq., commander in chief of this blog and Head Honcho (official legal title) of ECJ’s Employment Law Department, at (310) 281-6348.

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