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On July 2, the Treasury Department announced a one year deferral of the implementation of the employer mandate provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The annoucement was posted on the Treasure Department website.
The employer mandate was scheduled to take effect January 1, 2014. It will now take effect January 1, 2015. This deferral will provide business owners with more time to plan and budget for the impact that the ACA will have on their business. The employer mandate, or employer shared responsibility, would have required business owners employing at least 50 full time employees (or their part-time equivalents) to provide such employees with the opportunity to purchase insurance meeting certain criteria (commonly referred to as minimum essential coverage). If an employer failed to offer qualifying insurance to all of its full time employees, the employer would be subject to a penalty of up to $3,000 per employee.
In order to determine which employers are subject to the employer mandate, the prior year employees are counted. Thus, 2013 employment figures would have determined which employers would be subject to the employer mandate in 2014. As a result of the deferral, 2014 employment figures will count. As a result of the deferral, businesses will have more time to determine what coverage, if any, they want to make available to their employees and to budget for the cost of insurance coverage or the penalty. The deferral also gives the federal government more time to develop the employer mandate regulations and receive public input before such regulations become final.
One final note, the effective date of the individual mandate has not been deferred. As such, the provisions of that aspect of the ACA will be effective January 1, 2014.