As 2016 came to an end, several changes to the Affordable Care Act have been introduced by the federal government. This means that Human Resource staff everywhere must be aware of the new requirements to stay in compliance with the law. Many of these changes involve regulations meant to normalize the ACA in order to better integrate it into the health plans and benefits that employers provide. Below are some new changes of which HR staff and employers should be aware.
Clauses and exemptions meant to ease transition are no longer available
HR staff and employers need to be aware that many of the allowances and exemptions meant to ease the transition period are disappearing in 2017. Larger employers should know that Transition relief for Employer Shared Responsibility (those with 50 or more full-time workers) ends on January 1, 2017, and that employer coverage must be ACA compliant by this time. Relief relating to Flex contribution also expires on this date, so employers will need to restructure their contributions strategies so that this is no longer provided. “Good faith” waivers put into place to show that businesses are working towards compliance with the law will also no longer be offered by the end of 2016. Extra tax filing time, which was granted to employers up until this year, will no longer be offered by the IRS and risk mitigation programs relating to “reinsurance” and “risk corridor” will also expire.
Changes relating to health plans
New rules relating to the ACA will affect how employer provided health plans work. While Grandfathered plans (plans not ACA compliant which were purchased between 23rd March 2010 and 1 October 2013) have been allowed for up till the end of this year, they must be terminated regardless of the renewal date in 2017. There have also been changes to rules within compliant health coverage. Companies should follow new rules relating to any wellness plans their health coverage might offer. Not only do companies have to notify their employees how any wellness plans offered would work, but they also have to give the employee a choice as to whether or not they want to participate in those plans.
Rules have also been introduced to attempt to ensure affordability of any employer-provided health coverage. Beginning in 2017, employers will only be considered eligible for a premium tax credit if their plans do not exceed 9.69% of an employee’s household income. To be exempt from the individual mandate, employers must ensure that their plans do not exceed 8.16% of the employee’s income. Employers also need to be up-to-date with regard to their Summary of Benefits for employees, HSA contribution limits, as well as whether or not their plan meets new parity guidance with regard to mental health and substance abuse coverage.
With the New Year here companies need to be aware of these changes to stay in compliance with the law. While the Affordable Care Act is by no means perfect, it is up to HR staff and professionals at these companies to make sure that their efforts to be legally compliant are.
Creative Methods for Recruiting Employees – Overlooked Tools
While the last few years have been easy for employers planning on recruiting employees, new studies have found that almost forty percent of small to mid-sized businesses say that they’ll be adding employees to their company over the next year. That means that the battle of recruiting employees will likely flare up again. If you’re planning on recruiting employees you’ll want to find the very best ones available to you. This can actually be harder than it sounds, but using clever methods for recruiting employees can help you tremendously. There are a variety of overlooked and underused tools in your arsenal for recruiting employees. Here are a few of the best.
The most obvious methods aren’t really the best anymore, and today recruiting employees can be made much easier when you utilize technology. The old days of recruiting employees involved trips to job fairs, college recruitment events, and even simple postings on college job boards. Today, online services are leading the way and online career sites are gaining traction and quickly becoming the most popular way for young employees to find jobs. Create an account on several of these sites if you want to really have good luck with recruiting employees, that way you’ll catch the eye of some of the freshest and brightest talent.
Social media’s importance can’t be overstated enough, and using it when recruiting employees is vital. Facebook alone has over half a billion users, and if you add LinkedIn and Twitter your company can reach even more applicants when you begin recruiting employees. Clever posts to highlight your company’s benefits or just simple and informative posts or messages letting people know that there is an opening at your business could bring applicants by the hundreds, simplifying the process of recruiting employees tremendously. Of course, you’ll still have to find the best one for the job, but getting them to your company is half the battle when recruiting employees.
One key method for recruiting employees isn’t actually even the manner in which you advertise your needs, but actually your ability to look attractive to applicants. All of your efforts at recruiting employees are wasted if your company simply isn’t one that people want to work at. Making your company more attractive isn’t limited to just good salary and great benefits, however. You can simply promote a great working environment, training opportunities that boost employee knowledge, and other simple aspects that make your business great. Recruiting employees is a multi-faceted task and simply offering them the right incentives is a big part of recruiting employees for your company.
The final tool in your arsenal moves another step beyond just attracting applicants when recruiting employees. If you’re great at recruiting employees you’ll likely have a thick stack of potential applicants to wade through. Using software to track the process of recruiting employees is the easiest way to do this since you can sort employees according to qualifications and other factors and match up the best ones to their future job. Unicorn HRO provides you with the tools you need to easily manage the process of recruiting employees. All you need to do is get creative and get them to apply.
Benefits Administration under the Affordable Care act
Under the Affordable Care Act, many companies are seeing a number of changes to the types of health care coverage they must offer their staff, including how they offer coverage. As a result, many employers are engaging in a comprehensive analysis of the health care reform, its impact on their company, their new options for providing health care coverage, and the effects the reform may have on other company processes. Employers may begin to redesign their current benefit options to ensure that these are compliant with both federal and state regulations and are ready for the implementation phase in 2014. However, as the reform will also introduce new regulations over the coming years, employers must also continue to engage in forward planning and continuous analysis to monitor additional impacts on their company. Questions employers are considering include “who is eligible for coverage?” and “what types of plans are considered to be minimum and essential?” Companies must also decide if they can afford to continue to provide coverage and what would the penalty costs be for companies who choose not to do so.
The Affordable Care Act will not only impact benefit administration, but it will also impact many other aspects of the company. For example, the number of employees a company has will affect their eligibility for federal support and their responsibilities to provide coverage. It may therefore influence the company’s recruitment decisions. For example, small businesses will have access to public exchanges and tax credits. New costs to provide health care coverage may need to be considered in budgetary and salary planning. Companies will also be required to engage in new reporting processes, such as reporting the number of employees, types of plans offered to prove compliance with federal regulations. The ability for employers to collate and analyze company data will therefore be integral to help monitor compliance and to also engage in strategic business planning.
Employers will also be required to analyze their communication strategies, such as how they disseminate health coverage information to their employees. They will be required to offer a Summary of benefits and coverage document to all staff, which clearly outlines the plans offered by their employer and other benefit options such as public exchanges. Employers may also consider how they will inform employees regarding other changes under the health care reform. These may include offering information regarding the expanded eligibility requirements under Medicaid, changes to the Flexible Spending account (FSA) limit, and the ability for dependents to remain on their parent’s health care plans up until the age of 26.
Employers may find that there is an increase in the cost of premiums due to the number of employees who will now be eligible for health care coverage. Under the reform, full time employees will now be defined as those working 30 hours or more. There will also be costs associated with penalties for businesses who do not offer health care coverage including other direct and in-direct costs. Although a period of uncertainty, with effective planning and appropriate technologies, companies can ensure that they have the processes in place to support the changes taking place under the Affordable Care Act.