- Religious accomodation in the workplace
- Equal pay and prior salary information
- I quit! How to avoid constructive discharge
- You Can't Shred Email
- Navigating Unemployment Claims
- Considering Criminal History in Pre-Employment Decisions
- Defamation Claims from Former Employees
- Mixed Motive Causation
- Requesting Accomodation: Kowitz v. Trinity Health
- Antitrust Law in Human Resources
- An Evolving Standard: Joint-Employment
- What Does At-Will Employment Mean for Employers?
- Let's Talk About Wages
- THE FLSA: CHANGES ARE COMING
- Follow Up: Obesity and the ADA
- The Importance of Social Media Policies
- Is Obesity a Qualifying Disability under the ADA?
- Retaliation on the Rise: The EEOC Responds
- What Motivates You?
- "But I thought ...
- Who’s expecting? And what is he expecting?
- Are You Still Doing Annual Performance Reviews?
- Who is Your Employee?
- The unpaid intern trap Part II
- “We’ve been the victim of a cyber-attack”
- So, a Hasidic Jew, a nun in a habit and a woman wearing a headscarf walk into your office?
- The unpaid intern trap
- Pregnancy in the workplace
- Let's talk about honesty.
- "Did You Know" Series - Part I
- Conducting an Internal Investigation
- What HR can look forward to in 2015!
- The chokehold of workplace technology
- Does your company have trade secrets?
- North Dakota Construction Law Compendium for 2014
- Does the North Dakota baby boom affect you?
- Ban the Box? Why?
- The end of the world as we know it
- Everybody has an opinion
- Changes, Changes, Changes!
- Nick Grant presents at North Dakota Safety Council's 41st Annual Safety and Health Conference
- Email impairment: A potentially harmful condition
- Are Employers Required to Give Stressed-Out Employees Time Off?
- Can you obtain a credit report when investigating employee wrongdoing?
- Can’t we just sidestep the ACA?
- Should Your Employees Telecommute? Part III
- Should Your Employees Telecommute? Part II
- Should Your Employees Telecommute?
- Proper Investigation of Employee Misconduct
- Battles in the Wellness War
- Rules are rules! Aren’t they?
- What's going on in Bismarck
- A glimpse ahead
- Obesity as a disability under the ADA – reweighing the issue
- What’s next for your business under the Affordable Care Act?
- Criminal Background Checks
- Becoming a lawyer is a process, not an event [Section 5 of 5]
- Congress Says Yes To North Slope Energy Jobs Bill
- Test Your Knowledge of Social Media Policies and Employee Discipline
- Becoming a lawyer is a process, not an event [Section 4 of 5]
- What Every Employer Needs to Know About the NLRA
- Will the 2012 Elections Make A Difference
- Where There's Smoke...
- Dress Code Etiquette: Is Casual Friday Becoming Freaky Friday
- The Next Disaster May Be Yours
- Hostile Work Environment Claims
- North Dakota Employment Law Links
- There's An App For That
- Am I a “Business Associate”? Why Should I Care?
- Do You Recognize a Cat's Paw When You See One?
- Cell Phones Can Cost a Lot, Part II
- Becoming a lawyer is a process, not an event [Section 3 of 5]
- Cell Phones Can Cost a Lot, Part I
- The Economy - What HR Professionals Need To Know
- Becoming a lawyer is a process, not an event [Section 2 of 5]
- Three New Challenges For HR Professionals
Can’t we just sidestep the ACA?By: Paul Ebeltoft
While Congress has partially shuttered the United States government over demands to defund, delay or otherwise amend the Affordable Care Ct (ACA), more portions of the law, in place now for three years, took effect on October 1. From a business and HR standpoint, one of the pressure points of the law is determining which set of rules applies to your business. Some employers would like to bend these rules so that the ACA will not apply to them.
As I explained in this column more than a year ago, the ACA does not require any business to provide health benefits to their employees. What it does do, starting in 2015, is penalize larger employers who do not make affordable coverage available to employees and their families.
The penalty is $3000 annually for each full-time employee who chooses coverage from an insurance exchange and receives a premium tax credit. The penalty is capped at the amount of $2,000 per full-time employee minus the first 30 employees. The penalty adjusts upward each year by the percentage rate of health care cost increases.
On the other hand, if your business is one of these “larger employers” and currently offers health coverage to its workers that pays at least 60% of covered health care expenses for the typical population and does not require any employee to pay more than 9.5% of family income for the employer offered coverage, there is no penalty at all. This is because the law finds that these employers have already provided affordable coverage.
So, what’s the problem?
The problem is that some employers who do not offer health care insurance at all, who offer substandard policies or who require their employees to pay too much for their policy are seeking ways to avoid the penalty. I hope this does not describe your business. If it does, you may be an HR professional facing a boss who wants you to fix the problem by cutting back on employee hours. An ACA “full time employee” is one who works 30 or more hours a week. “If I can cut back enough employees to get below the 50 full time employee threshold,” these bosses reason, “my business will not have to offer affordable coverage and will face no penalty.” Beware.
What’s the risk?
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) governs almost all types of employer-sponsored health care plans. This law provides in part that “[i]t shall be unlawful for any person to discharge, fine, suspend, expel, discipline or discriminate against [a covered employee] for the purpose of interfering with the attainment of any right to which such participant may become entitled under the plan…”
The last part of the quotation is the key. Your boss may not be able to take an action adverse to your co-workers that interferes with attainment of a right – in this case the right to affordable health insurance coverage. “But,” your boss will say, “I am only lowering the hours my employees work because I have a legitimate business need to manage my overhead costs.” Perhaps this is true, but it is part of your job as an HR professional to be able to tell your boss the risks of the proposed action. Here the risk is stepping off the end of the dock without a single court case yet decided about the possible interface of ERISA and the ACA. No business should wish to be the test case.
We won’t get caught! Will we?
Some employers, again I hope that it is not yours, will press HR to approve hour reductions on the theory that the business is just a small fish in a large pond and that the federal government will be too stressed by implementation to do much enforcement, particularly of smaller players. Teenagers never believe their mothers when they say, “don’t worry, honey, no one will notice.” HR should be no less skeptical and respond with advice to avoid the temptation to create artificial schemes to avoid the provisions of the ACA.
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Reprinted with permission from an article submitted for publication in the October, 2013 Southwest Area Human Resource Association newsletter.