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Legs & Regs: No Look-Back Till After Election

October 31 2012

A possible final rule on a look-back period — which could ease the burden of healthcare reform’s employer mandates on staffing firms — won’t come until after the election, according to the October issue of the Legs and Regs Advisor, produced by Staffing Industry Analysts in conjunction with employment law firm Littler Mendelson.

Government agencies have been struggling to develop and publish the many regulations to implement healthcare reform since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in March 2010, according to the Legs & Regs Advisor.

“One provision of the law imposes so-called ‘play or pay’ penalties on employers when they do not offer qualifying and affordable health coverage to all of their full-time employees. The Affordable Care Act statute defines ‘full-time employee’ as ‘with respect to any month, an employee who is employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week,’” according to the Legs & Regs Advisor.

The statute seems to indicate that whoever is a full-time employee will be calculated each month. However, the IRS proposed a “look-back/stability period safe harbor” rule that would “allow measurement of full-time status over retrospective periods as long as 12 months, in exchange for a forward-looking obligation to extend the full-time status found under the look-back test forward for the same length of time,” according to the Legs & Regs Advisor.

A look-back period of up to 12 months could greatly reduce the financial burden of employer penalties on staffing firms.

However, on Oct. 12, Elizabeth Fowler, special assistant to the president for health care and economic policy at the National Economic Council, announced the actual regulations on the “full-time employee” definition would not be published until after the November election, the Legs & Regs Advisor reported. However, she still referred to their publication “this fall.”

“It is not clear whether that portends a potential reversal or walk-back of what currently looks like a business-favorable regulation,” according to the Legs & Regs Advisor.

The Legs & Regs Advisor also covers several other topics this month, including:

  • California Enacts New Law Imposing Onerous Reporting Requirements for Staffing Firms
  • Newark, N.J., Restricts Use of Background Checks for Employment Purposes
  • Staffing Firm Employees Awarded $204,329 for Wage/Hour Violations
  • Court Approves $19 Million Settlement in Robert Half Exemption Cases

Corporate members of Staffing Industry Analysts can download the full report by clicking here.

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