Reform Update: More on Employer Shared Responsibility

Q & A:  Employer Shared Responsibility

Starting in 2015, employers of at least 50 full-time employees will be subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions under section 4980H of the Internal Revenue Code (added to the Code by the Affordable Care Act).

Q. I understand that the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions apply only to employers employing at least a certain number of employees. How many employees must an employer have to be subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions?

A. To be subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions for a calendar year, an employer must have employed during the previous calendar year at least 50 full-time employees or a combination of full-time and part-time employees that equals at least 50.

For example, an employer that employs 40 full-time employees (that is, employees employed 30 or more hours per week on average) and 20 employees employed 15 hours per week on average has the equivalent of 50 full-time employees, and would be an applicable large employer.

Seasonal workers are taken into account in determining the number of full-time employees. However, if an employer’s workforce exceeds 50 full-time employees (including full-time equivalents) for 120 days or fewer during a calendar year, and the employees in excess of 50 who were employed during that period of no more than 120 days were seasonal workers, the employer is not considered an applicable large employer. Seasonal workers are workers who perform labor or services on a seasonal basis as defined by the Secretary of Labor, and retail workers employed exclusively during holiday seasons. For this purpose, employers may apply a reasonable, good faith interpretation of the term “seasonal worker.”

Employers will determine each year, based on their current number of employees, whether they will be considered an applicable large employer for the next year. For example, if an employer has at least 50 full-time employees (including full-time equivalents) for 2014, it will be considered an applicable large employer for 2015. Note that because employers will be performing this calculation for the first time to determine their status for 2015, there is a transition rule intended to make this first calculation easier.

Employers average their number of employees across the months in the year to see whether they will be an applicable large employer for the next year. This averaging can take account of fluctuations that many employers may experience in their work force across the year. The final regulations provide additional information about how to determine the average number of employees for a year, including information about how to take account of salaried employees who may not clock their hours.

 

Q. Is more detailed information available about the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions?

A. Yes. Treasury and the IRS have issued final regulations on the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions. They also have issued proposed regulations on the related Information Reporting by Applicable Large Employers on Health Insurance Coverage Offered under Employer-Sponsored Plans.

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Jennifer Moore