Faced with growing criticism and concerns from business owners, the Obama Administration has delayed until January 1, 2015, the employer mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as ObamaCare. If not for the delay, the employer mandate would have taken effect on January 1, 2014. The employer mandate includes a provision penalizing employers with more than 50 full-time workers who either do not offer health insurance or whose employees cannot afford insurance without taxpayer help.
While the Internal Revenue Service issued a safe harbor that businesses that are very close to having 50 full-time employees can rely on, the safe harbor is extraordinarily complicated and in order to garner its full benefit, most business would have had to set a plan in 2013. Few, if any, businesses did this.
Accordingly, instead of risking chaos in 2014, the administration opted to delay the employer mandate. Whether the employer mandate will take effect in 2015, or ever, is still open to debate. What is not open to debate is that if you have a sizable employee workforce (including part-time employees), under the assumption that the mandate takes effect in 2015, you should speak with competent legal counsel before the end of 2013 to take advantage of this reprieve and pre-plan in 2014 so that you have options in 2015.