As we proceed through the 1st Quarter of 2015, the looming issue for employers continues to be compliance with the Affordable Care Act’s employer shared responsibility rules, more commonly known as the "employer mandate." The mandate includes two specific items – (1) coverage requirements and potential penalties, and (2) reporting requirements. For employers that are not exempt, ensuring compliance with those two items are the top compliance priorities for 2015.
To confirm, employers are exempt from both penalties and reporting for 2015 if they had fewer than 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalents, during 2014. An IRS transition rule allows an employer to use any consecutive 6+ month period in 2014 to make that determination.
For employers with 50-99 full-time employees, including full-time equivalents (again based on 2014 data), the employer will be exempt from mandate penalties in 2015, assuming the employer meets the terms of the 2015 exemption. However, the employer will have to comply with the new reporting requirements, which apply for the 2015 calendar year to all 50+ employers. As an aside, for employers in the 50-99 range, the employer mandate rules regarding determination of eligibility (30-hour rule) and affordability (9.5%) will not apply until 2016.
Employers with 100 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalents (again based on 2014 data), the employer will be subject to the coverage requirements in 2015 as well as the new reporting requirements.
We will continue through our webinars and Compliance Updates to educate employers on these and other ACA compliance issues during 2015. For now, employers should confirm the effective date of the mandate (coverage requirements and reporting). For those subject to the reporting, the employer should assess the data tracking requirements for 2015 and also examine training or outsourcing options.