Food Marketing Institute (FMI) is encouraged by employer guidance released last week by the White House and Departments of Treasury, Labor and Health and Human Services on how to determine which employees are considered full-time and eligible for employer-sponsored health coverage, as mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Notice 2012-58 details safe harbor methods that employers may use in determining which employees are considered full-time and therefore required to be offered employer-sponsored health insurance, while Notice 2012-59 offers guidance on the application of the ACA’s 90-Day Wait Period Limitation for providing health coverage benefits.
“FMI, representing the nation’s food retailers, appreciates the administration’s allowance for maximum flexibility for employers to ‘look back’ up to one year to account for seasonality and fluctuating work schedules when determining coverage eligibility, as well as providing a safe harbor for employers who can demonstrate that coverage does not exceed 9.5 percent of an employee’s wages,” said Jennifer Hatcher, SVP of government and public affairs at the Arlington, Va.-based trade association.
Added Hatcher: “While food retailers’ compliance costs associated with ACA’s employer mandates will still be very significant, Notice 2012-58 and Notice 2012-59 are positive steps for food retailers within the scope of health coverage law. Still, with ACA’s employer mandates effective in less than 18 months and many other aspects to employer-sponsored coverage yet to be released, FMI members need a transition period without being subject to penalty in order to evaluate all of ACA’s coverage rules in their entirety and to properly adjust plan designs to comply with the law’s regulations.”
Beyond the need for a suitable transition period, Hatcher voiced FMI members’ concern “that ACA’s defining full-time employees as those averaging 30-hours per week could have far-reaching consequences to how food retailers manage their workforce and employee benefits well beyond health care, and we wish to work with Congress to address this issue.”