Originally posted on http://www.ifebp.org
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued final regulations implementing the employer responsibility provisions under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that take effect in 2015.
The final rules implement the employer shared responsibility provisions of the ACA, under section 4980H of the Internal Revenue Code. The rules make a number of changes in response to input on the proposed regulations issued in December 2012.
Highlights of the rules include addressing a number of questions about how plans can comply with the employer shared responsibility provisions; ensuring that volunteers such as firefighters and emergency responders do not count as full-time employees; and phasing in provisions for businesses with 50 to 99 full-time employees and those that offer coverage to most but not yet all of their full-time workers.
The final rules provide, for 2015, that:
- The employer responsibility provision will generally apply to larger firms with 100 or more full-time employees starting in 2015 and employers with 50 to 99 full-time employees starting in 2016.
- To avoid a payment for failing to offer health coverage, employers need to offer coverage to 70 percent of their full-time employees in 2015 and 95 percent in 2016 and beyond, helping employers that, for example, may offer coverage to employees with 35 or more hours, but not yet to that fraction of their employees who work 30 to 34 hours. (Proposed regulations would have required employers to offer coverage to 95 percent of their full-time employees in 2015.)
Various Employee Categories
The final regulations provide clarifications regarding whether employees of certain types or in certain occupations are considered full-time, including:
- Volunteers: Hours contributed by bona fide volunteers for a government or tax-exempt entity, such as volunteer firefighters and emergency responders, will not cause them to be considered full-time employees.
- Educational employees: Teachers and other educational employees will not be treated as part-time for the year simply because their school is closed or operating on a limited schedule during the summer.
- Seasonal employees: Those in positions for which the customary annual employment is six months or less generally will not be considered full-time employees.
- Student work-study programs: Service performed by students under federal or state-sponsored work-study programs will not be counted in determining whether they are full-time employees.
- Adjunct faculty: Based on the comments received, the final regulations provide as a general rule that, until further guidance is issued, employers of adjunct faculty are to use a method of crediting hours of service for those employees that is reasonable in the circumstances and consistent with the employer responsibility provisions. However, to accommodate the need for predictability and ease of administration and consistent with the request for a “bright line” approach suggested in a number of the comments, the final regulations expressly allow crediting an adjunct faculty member with 2 ¼ hours of service per week for each hour of teaching or classroom time as a reasonable method for this purpose.