Our colleagues Steven M. Swirsky; Adam C. Solander; Brandon C. Ge; Nancy L. Gunzenhauser; and August Emil Huelle contributed to Epstein Becker Green’s recent issue of Take 5 newsletter.   In this edition, we address important employment, labor, and workforce management issues confronting retailers:

  1. Sick Leaves Laws Are Sweeping the Nation
  2. The NLRB’s New “Expedited” Election Rules Became Effective April 14, 2015—Expect a Major Uptick in Union Activity in Retail
  3. EEOC Proposes Wellness Program Amendments to ADA Regulations: The Impact on Retail Employers
  4. Security Considerations for the Retail Employer
  5. NLRB Issues Critical Guidance on Employee Handbooks, Rules, and Policies, Including “Approved” Language

Read the Full Take 5 here.

To register for this complimentary webinar, please click here.

I’d like to recommend an upcoming complimentary webinar, “EEOC Wellness Regulations – What Do They Mean for Employer-Sponsored Programs? (April 22, 2015, 12:00 p.m. EDT) presented by my Epstein Becker Green colleagues Frank C. Morris, Jr. and Adam C. Solander.

Below is a description of the webinar:

On April 16, 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released its long-awaited proposed regulations governing employer-provided wellness programs under the American’s with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Although the EEOC had not previously issued regulations governing wellness programs, the EEOC has filed a series of lawsuits against employers alleging that their wellness programs violated the ADA. Additionally, the EEOC has issued a number of public statements, which have concerned employers, indicating that the EEOC’s regulation of wellness programs would conflict with the regulations governing wellness programs under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) and jeopardize the programs currently offered to employees.

During this webinar, Epstein Becker Green attorneys will:

  • summarize the EEOC’s recently released proposed regulations
  • discuss where the EEOC’s proposed regulations are inconsistent with the rules currently in place under the ACA and the implications of the rules on wellness programs
  • examine the requests for comments issued by the EEOC and how its proposed regulations may change in the future
  • provide an analysis of what employers should still be concerned about and the implications of the proposed regulations on the EEOC’s lawsuits against employers

Who Should Attend:

  • Employers that offer, or are considering offering, wellness programs
  • Wellness providers, insurers, and administrators

To register for this complimentary webinar, please click here.

My colleagues Frank C. Morris, Jr., Adam C. Solander, and August Emil Huelle co-authored a Health Care and Life Sciences Client Alert concerning the EEOC’s proposed amendments to its ADA regulations and it is a topic of interest to many of our readers.

Following is an excerpt:

On April 16, 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released its highly anticipated proposed regulations (to be published in the Federal Register on April 20, 2015, for notice and comment) setting forth the EEOC’s interpretation of the term “voluntary” as to the disability-related inquiries and medical examination provisions of the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Under the ADA, employers are generally barred from making disability-related inquiries to employees or requiring employees to undergo medical examinations. There is an exception to this prohibition, however, for disability-related inquiries and medical examinations that are “voluntary.”

Click here to read the full Health Care and Life Sciences Client Alert.

In a complimentary webinar on February 20 (1:00 p.m. ET), our colleagues Frank C. Morris, Jr., and Adam C. Solander will review the ongoing impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on employers and their group health plans.

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service recently issued highly anticipated final regulations implementing the employer shared responsibility provisions of the ACA, also known as the employer mandate. The rules make several important changes in response to comments on the original proposed regulations issued in December 2012 and provide significant transition relief.

Objectives of the webinar are to:

  • Provide an overview of the shared responsibility rules
  • Discuss how the changes to the rules will affect employers of all sizes
  • Analyze special rules for seasonal, educational, and other employees and those with breaks in service
  • Provide insight into compliance issues affecting employers
  • Discuss strategies for compliance
  • Provide a roadmap of future ACA regulations

Click here to read more about this webinar, or click here to register.

Our colleagues Kara Maciel and Adam Solander have a new Law360 article, “Where ERISA and the Affordable Care Act Collide,” that serves as an important wake-up call on staffing decisions that employers have to face.

Following is an excerpt:

In July 2013, the Obama administration announced a delay of the employer mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act for one year (i.e., the employer mandate). While back in July a one-year delay seemed like an eternity, the reality is that given the way in which most employers will determine whether an employee is classified as full-time, and therefore is eligible for coverage, as a practical matter, in very short order employers may be forced to make staffing decisions that could expose them to liability. This article will examine some of the risks associated with employer staffing decisions and how those risks maybe mitigated.

Download a PDF of the full article here.

A recent article in Bloomberg BNA’s Health Insurance Report will be of interest to retail industry employers: “ACA’s Employer ‘Pay or Play’ Mandate Delayed – What Now for Employers?” by Frank C. Morris, Jr., and Adam C. Solander, colleagues of ours, based in Epstein Becker Green’s Washington, DC, office. Following is an excerpt:

The past few weeks have changed the way that most employers will prepare for the employer ‘‘shared responsibility” provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Over the past year or so, employers have scrambled to understand their obligations with respect to the shared responsibility rules and implement system changes, oftentimes with imperfect information to guide their efforts to comply with ACA.

Understanding the difficulties that both employers and the health insurance exchanges or marketplaces would have, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on July 2 issued a press release stating it would delay the shared responsibility provisions and certain other reporting requirements for one year, until Jan. 1, 2015.

On July 9, the IRS published Notice 2013-45 (Notice), providing additional information on the one-year delay. Specifically, the following three ACA requirements are delayed:

  1. The employer shared responsibility provisions under Section 4980H of the Internal Revenue Code (Code), otherwise known as the employer mandate;
  2. Information reporting requirements under Section 6056 of the Code, which are linked to the employer mandate; and
  3. Information reporting requirements under Section 6055 of the Code, which apply to self-insuring employers, insurers, and certain other providers of ‘‘minimum essential coverage,” as defined by ACA.

The IRS notice clarifies that only the above three requirements are delayed. The notice does not affect the effective date or application of other ACA provisions, such as the premium tax credit or the individual mandate. Given the fact that the law itself is not delayed, the notice has raised significant issues for employers despite their being generally pleased with the mandate and penalty delay. This article will discuss the impact of the delay and some of the issues that employers should consider as a result of the delay.

Click here to download the full article in PDF format.

The attached file is reproduced with permission from Health Insurance Report, 19 HPPR 28, 7/31/13. Copyright © 2013 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033) http://www.bna.com

Bloomberg BNA’s Daily Labor Report recently published an article coauthored our Epstein Becker Green colleagues Kara M. Maciel and Adam C. Solander: “For Employers with High Turnover and Large Numbers of Seasonal Workers, the ACA Creates Unique Compliance Issues.” (Click to download the article in PDF format.)

Following is an excerpt:

The Affordable Care Act provides unique compliance obligations for employers in certain industries, such as the retail, lodging, restaurant, and grocery sectors, many of which employ large numbers of part-time and seasonal employees, and may comprise multiple smaller employers.

Of paramount concern for these employers, as for all employers, is the impending application of the shared responsibility rules. The guidance to date has been very much a mixed bag for these high-turnover industries. Some of the shared responsibility provisions will have a greater impact on these industries because of their size and employee mix, while others provide useful interpretations that will lessen some of the negative impacts of these rules.

This article will briefly examine the four major steps required under the shared responsibility rules in the context of these industries. These include: (1) determining whether the business is subject to the shared responsibility rules; (2) identifying the number of full-time employees a particular employer may have; (3) examining the way the shared responsibility rules relate to high-turnover industries; and (4) identifying strategies for compliance.

As background, the employer shared responsibility rules provide that ‘‘applicable large employers” with 50 or more full-time employees (including full-time equivalent employees) will be subject to a tax penalty if any full-time employee receives a premium tax credit or cost-sharing reduction to purchase health coverage through a health insurance exchange.

Generally, an employee is eligible for a cost-sharing subsidy if: (1) an employer does not offer the majority of its full-time employees (and their dependents) the opportunity to enroll in coverage; or (2) an employer offers its full-time employees the opportunity to enroll in coverage, but the coverage is ‘‘unaffordable” or does not provide ‘‘minimum value.”

Conceptually, the shared responsibility rules are not difficult to understand. However, as with all things ACA, the devil is in the details and the details are what complicate shared responsibility compliance for high- turnover industries.

Our colleagues Kara Maciel, Frank C. Morris Jr., Elizabeth Bradley, and Adam Solander have posted a client advisory on the recent ACA employer mandate delay, exploring the ramifications and unresolved issues that employers should consider. Following is an excerpt:

In reaction to employers’ concerns about the many difficulties posed in efforts to comply with the Employer Mandate provisions of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), the Obama administration (“Administration”) announced late yesterday that it is delaying the implementation of the penalty provisions and other aspects of the shared responsibility regulations until 2015. While the delay may have been to accommodate stakeholder requests, the delay also may have accommodated the Administration in connection with its readiness to implement the Employer Mandate. This delay could be a precursor to other implementation delays as the Administration seeks to make the ACA’s implementation successful, especially in light of intense scrutiny as to implementation and an inability to amend the law in Congress.

Read the full advisory: Employer Mandate Delayed—Employers Get Welcome Relief from Penalties Until 2015, but Many Questions Remain.

Please join Epstein Becker Green’s Health Care & Life Sciences and Labor & Employment practitioners as we continue to review the Affordable Care Act and its ongoing impact on retail employers and their group health plans.

In less than a year, retail employers employing at least 50 full-time employees will be subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions. Under these provisions, if retail employers do not offer health coverage or do not offer affordable health coverage that provides a minimum level of value to their full-time employees, they may be subject to a tax penalty under the proposed regulations just issued by the Internal Revenue Service.

During this program, Epstein Becker Green practitioners will:

  • Review the basics of the Employer Shared Responsibility provisions and proposed regulations
  • Define employer status under the proposed regulations
  • Clarify the definition of “full-time” employees and dependents who must be offered coverage
  • Discuss the determination of affordable and minimum value coverage
  • Review employer liabilities and penalties

This is the third session in the Employer Affordable Care Act Webinar Series for retail employers on upcoming rules and regulations implementing the Affordable Care Act. Please stay tuned for upcoming webinars on:

  • Exchange Implementation
  • Essential Health Benefits
  • Quality Reporting
  • And others…

Epstein Becker Green Presenters:
Mark E. Lutes
Frank C. Morris, Jr.
Adam C. Solander

Wednesday, January 9, 2013
1:00 – 2:00 pm EST
10:00 – 11:00 am PST

Registration Is Complimentary and Webinar Space Is Limited

Don’t Miss This Opportunity! To Register, please click here.

Contact Elizabeth Gannon at 202/861-1850 or egannon@ebglaw.com for more information. If you missed the first two webinars in the New ACA Implementation Regulation series, the audio recording and presentation slides are now available.

On Tuesday, December 18, Epstein Becker Green attorneys Gretchen Harders, Frank C. Morris, Jr., and Adam C. Solander offered a one-hour webinar titled “What Employers Need to Know Now!” as the second webinar in a series on the New ACA Implementation Regulations: Employer Impact.

The webinar included:

  • ACA implementation timeline
  • Structure of the law and basic concepts affecting retail employers
  • Critical employer decision making and planning for 2014
  • Alternative plan design options available to retail employers

The webinar recording and presentation slides for “What Employers Need to Know Now!” are now available. Contact Elizabeth Gannon at 202/861-1850 or egannon@ebglaw.com, to obtain a password to download the files.