Forget the Holiday Party, We’ve Got Human Resources Issues to Discuss!

It’s late November and the expectations placed on a human resources blogger this time of year usually aren’t very high. Social norms dictate that we come up with a list of the “Top Ten Things” we’re thankful for in the office or some sage advice on how to throw a fun holiday party that doesn’t end in litigation or termination. But this year is different. This year the news is a little too big to focus on best practices to prevent HR headaches after the office festivities.

We just elected a new president. Chances are you’re either still celebrating or still in shock. President-Elect Trump made many campaign promises and, while we don’t know yet which ones he will deliver on, several key promises will directly affect employers. Among the safe predictions are a focus on immigration worksite enforcement and sweeping changes and/or a total repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Another prediction is lifting the new payroll threshold for overtime.[1] It’s this last item that has caused many to breath of sigh of relief. But don’t breathe too deeply!

According to SHRM, President-elect Trump can’t do much about the “December 1st effective date of the new overtime rule, which doubles the exempt salary threshold under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to $47,476.[2]” Even if it was a top priority of the new administration, changes would take a very long time thanks to the notice-and-comment period required by law.

So for the time being, we all need to be prepared to follow the overtime rule as written. It does appear that Trump is open to the idea of calling for a small-business exemption to the rule after he takes office in January, but by then businesses will have already made a lot of changes to comply with the rule.

It’s also possible that Trump will decide to leave the rule stand as-is. While Trump did say in a brief interview on the campaign trail that he favored a small-business exemption, any changes to the current rule could negatively impact some of his supporters, many of whom could earn more once the rule is in place.[3]

There are many HR regulations that could see sweeping changes under a Trump administration: Minimum Wage, FLSA, Pay Equity, Family Medical Leave and Health Insurance just to name a few. All were things discussed on the campaign trail at one point or another…but will they all be changed? Much like this election, it’s nearly impossible to predict!

Our job will require something much harder than predictions. As HR Professionals, we will need to determine what the changes mean to our own organizations and which will mandate action. If we’ve already reclassified employees based on the overtime rule, will be reclassify them again if the rule is changed? Sure, it would be allowed by law, but would it be the best thing for our organization? What is legal and what is right are not always one in the same.

Don’t think about it too much… or that fourth drink at the office party will seem completely reasonable!

What potential HR changes are you looking forward to under the new administration? We’d love to hear from you. Post your comments below.






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ACA Reporting Deadlines Extended

Just in time to celebrate the New Year, the IRS released Notice 2016-4 which announced the extension of due dates for Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting. If you’re not familiar with the ACA reporting requirements, we refer you back to our October blog post which can be found here. By delaying the deadlines, the IRS is allowing employers and insurers more time to gather required information and adapt their business practices to allow for use of the forms.

In short, if your business is required to comply with the ACA mandate of offering health coverage to 100% of your full time employees and their dependents (until age 26), you must report this information on IRS forms 1094-C and 1095-C in 2016. The due dates for these forms have been extended as follows:

  • The due date for furnishing the 2015 Form 1095-C to the insured and employees is extended from February 1, 2016, to March 31, 2016.
  • The due date for health coverage providers and employers furnishing the 2015 Form 1094-C to the IRS is extended from February 29, 2016, to May 31, 2016 if not filing electronically.
  • The due date for health coverage providers and employers electronically filing the 2015 Form 1094-C with the IRS is extended from March 31, 2016, to June 30, 2016.

It is important to note that due to the extension, some employees will not receive their forms until after the April 15 tax filing deadline. The IRS indicates that these employees do not have to file an amended tax return. They should, however, keep their forms readily available in case they need them later.

No official extension request is required and there is nothing you need to do to take advantage of the extended due dates.  Despite the extension, the IRS is encouraging employers and other coverage providers to provide statements and file the forms as soon as they are ready. The IRS is prepared to accept information reporting returns beginning this month.

Happy New Year!

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Understanding the Reporting Requirements of the Affordable Care Act

2016 is just a few short months away, and with it will come new responsibilities related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Do you have a plan for collecting the data required to complete IRS forms 1094-C and 1095-C?

aca-healthcare-reformThese Forms are to be filed by employers who are required to offer health insurance coverage to their employees under the ACA and who are recognized as an Applicable Large Employer (ALE). An ALE is an employer who has 50 or more full-time employees or 50 or more full time equivalent employees. Filing in early 2016 for the 2015 calendar year is actually based on the size of your company in 2014. Confused yet? Maybe this will help:

If your business had 100 or more full time employees in 2014: In 2015 you must comply with the ACA mandate of offering health coverage to 100% of your full time employees and their dependents (until age 26) and report this information on IRS forms 1094-C and 1095-C in 2016.

  • If your business had between 50 and 99 full time employees in 2014: In 2015 you must comply with the ACA mandate unless you qualified for transition relief. If you did qualify for transition relief, please note that the ACA mandate will apply to you for the 2016 plan year (reported in 2017).
  • If your business had less than 50 full time employees in 2014: You are not an ALE and are not required to comply with the ACA mandate.

Merely counting your full time employees will not help, however. The IRS qualifies employers as ALE’s based on full time employees and full time equivalent employees. So how many full timers do you really have? Based on the definition related to the reporting requirement, a FT employee works an average of 30+ hours per week or 130 hours per calendar month and at least 120 days per year. That’s the easy part. The next piece is a little more tricky.

The hours of part time employees are added together to equal those of a full time employee and are then used to calculate whether the mandate applies to your business. So two part time staff each working 15 hours per week can be the equivalent of one full time staff member who works 30 hours per week. The folks at know this is confusing, so they have a Full-time Equivalent (FTE) Employee Calculator available on their site to help.

So why are there two forms and what will the information be used for? The 1095-C provides information about health insurance and is sent to the IRS and to your employees. The 1094-C acts as a cover page for the 1095-C and is only sent to the IRS. The IRS will then use the data to identify employees who are eligible for subsidies to purchase coverage through the Exchange, employees who are without Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) and who may be subject to an Individual Shared Responsibility Penalty, employers who are failing to offer Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) to full-time employees and employers who fail to offer Minimum Value Affordable Coverage to full-time employees. Employers who are failing to offer coverage may be subject to penalties.

If you’re still unsure about what these requirements mean to your organization, we encourage you to contact our offices today.

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