Affordable Care Act

Following its now familiar pattern of disclosure of important ACA information in obscure locations, the Obama Administration announced late Thursday afternoon that it will not penalize employers for failure to notify their employees of the health insurance market places by October 1.   You can access the notice herePrevious guidance called for a fine of $100 per employee per day for failure to notify.  Now the DOL merely “suggests” employers notify their employees.  So employers are out of the woods on notification, right?

Not so much.  The DOL FAQ of September 12 is silent on the issue of notification for employees hired after October 1.  The prior guidance was notification within 14 days of hire with a $100 fine on the 15th day notification was not made and the same for every day thereafter until notification is delivered.  Unless the administration says differently, this element remains in force.  Additionally, there are whistle-blower provisions under that ACA that could create risk for employers that fail to notify which may trigger a complaint to the EEOC.

The safest play for employers remains notification by October 1.  I strongly recommend putting the notification in payroll envelopes (provided every employee is getting paid in that cycle), passing out in-person with signed receipt (for smaller employers) or first class mail.  Email is tricky because the ACA requires that it may only be sent to a work computer used by the individual in the normal course of their duties and receipt acknowledgment is required. Here are the model notices that can be used for notification:

Notification for Employers with health insurance plans

Notification for Employers WITHOUT health insurance plans

I understand if business owners and HR pros are frustrated with all of these changes.  It’s tough to know what to do when the Administration is making ACA regulations fresh every day.