This post was also written by Allison Warden Sizemore.
On February 12, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published final regulations modifying the timeline under which certain employers will be required to make “shared responsibility” payments if they do not provide qualified health insurance for their full-time employees and dependents pursuant to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Specifically, under a new “transition relief” policy, the IRS is delaying the shared responsibility payment obligation for employers with 50 to 99 full-time equivalent employees from 2015 until 2016, although such employers will have to submit reports regarding their employees’ coverage in 2015. In order to qualify for transition relief, employers must certify that they have not laid-off workers to drop below the 100 employee threshold and must not eliminate or materially reduce their coverage offerings. The regulations also provide that employers subject to the employer responsibility provisions in 2015 (i.e., employers with 100 or more full-time equivalent employees) must offer coverage to at least 70% of full-time employees to avoid a penalty, rather than 95% (the 95% threshold will take effect in 2016). The regulations also clarify whether certain types of employees or employees in certain occupations are considered full-time (such as volunteer firefighters and emergency responders, educational employees, and seasonal workers) and clarify other open questions from the prior proposed regulations.