'Full-Time Worker' Definition Under Health Care Reform Sought

By SHRM Online staff May 5, 2011

The U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have requested public comment on issues relating to the "play or pay" provisions (also referred to by the administration as the "shared responsibility" provisions) in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that will apply to certain employers starting in 2014.

Under the PPACA, employers with 50 or more full-time employees that do not offer affordable health coverage to their full-time employees would be required to pay a penalty, beginning in 2014. Notice 2011-36, issued on May 3, 2011, solicits public comments on several issues related to the play or pay provisions. In particular, the notice requests comments on possible approaches employers could use to determine who is a full-time employee.

Notice 2011-36 states that the definitions of employer, employee and hours of service and the rules for calculating hours of service would generally conform to well-established regulatory definitions and rules applicable to employer-provided health and pension benefits. For example, under one approach, employees would become eligible to enroll in the employer’s group health plan when they are determined to have worked a specified number of hours (e.g., 30 hours per week) during a specified period (e.g., a quarterly look-back measurement period).

90-Day Provision

In addition, the notice solicits input on how federal agencies should interpret and apply the PPACA's provisions limiting the ability of plans to impose a waiting period for health coverage of longer than 90 days, starting in 2014. The notice invites comments on how guidance under the 90-day provisions should be coordinated with the rules that the Treasury Department and the IRS will propose regarding the play or pay provisions.

Comments may be sent by e-mail to Notice.Comments@irscounsel.treas.gov (include “Notice 2011-36” in the subject line). The deadline for comments is June 17, 2011.

Related Article:

Part-Time Employees and Health Care Reform, SHRM HR Q&As, April 2011

Should Employers Pay or Play Under PPACA? Factors to Consider, SHRM Online Benefits Discipline, April 2011

Quick Links:

SHRM Online Benefits Discipline

SHRM Online Health Care Reform Resource Page

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