Questions & Answers:
Below are the questions submitted during the live webinar, along with the answers provided by Robin Phillmore and MuhannadMalki . If you have questions of your own or require further information regarding The ACA and Your Business ,
feel free to contact intouch Insurance Services or Rogers Benefit Group. (see contact information to the left).
How does the ACA apply to temporary employees that we use through a staffing agency?
Robin: The question would be, how long have they been temporary employees?
Malki: When it comes to staffing agencies, usually federal taxes and workers’ comp are recorded on the federal and state tax ID of the staffing agency. Temporary employees are technically not your employees; however, there’s a time component.
Robin: The bottom line is the IRS wants to make sure they’re getting their money. They want to make sure that employers aren’t using employees from a staffing agency for an extended period of time to avoid offering coverage. So, somebody who’s been working through a staffing agency for a year or two years, they’re technically more than just a temporary employee, if somebody were to audit and review that. But again, that’s something that should be taken up with a labor attorney.
Malki: Definitely. Another aspect of this question is the concept of PEO (Professional Employer Organization). Similar to staffing agencies, they provide payroll, workers’ comp, and other benefits for employees. Many record payroll under the PEO’s federal tax ID; however, under the employer’s state tax ID. Some do both under the federal. Keep in mind the ACA is working on the federal level, not on the state level.
What if we are an ALE employer in 2015 and downsize in 2016?
Robin: Reporting is for the year prior. So for 2015, you would report at the beginning of the year 2016 for 2015, if in fact you are an ALE. Then, in 2016, if you’re not an ALE, you wouldn’t be responsible for doing the reporting in the year 2017.
Malki: You’re always reporting a year after. These kinds of technicalities have to do with compliance and penalties, and we have yet to see what the ACA’s impact will be. That’s something we’re going to find out fairly soon.
Shouldn’t a payroll company be responsible for reporting the ACA for me?
Robin: No, not necessarily. It’s not their responsibility. The reporting responsibility lies with the employer group. It’s their responsibility to do the reporting to the IRS. As I mentioned, ultimately most payroll companies are getting on board to assist their customers with the completion of the 1094 and 1095 C, and then there are others that will actually do the filing. Depending on the size of the group, some filing can be done electronically. If you’re a certain size group, it has to be done electronically. And if you’re a smaller group, you can choose to file electronically or on paper.
Malki: If you think you may need to report to the IRS, don’t wait to find out what will happen. Be proactive; pick up the phone; talk to your payroll company; see what they will and won’t do. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility. You are the employer.
Robin: It’s just like COBRA. It’s an employer law. Even though most people have third-party administrators doing COBRA for them, ultimately, if it came down to a penalty, it falls back on the employers.
: If we pay for 60% of employees’ health insurance premiums, do we refund 60% of the premium refund?
Robin: I’m assuming you are referring to when you get a refund from the insurance carrier, the MLR. In that case, the answer is not necessarily. There are different ways employers can go about the refund, but in that scenario, just because you pay 60% doesn’t necessarily mean that they get 60% back. The employees are only paying 40% of that, so they would potentially only get 40% of the refund.
Should we work with our labor attorney to add a network security policy? Do you have a standard policy that you could share and that we could add to our employee handbook?
Malki: Yes. This is something I would definitely advise you to speak to your labor attorney about. They should be advising you on your company handbooks as well as all your internal policies. Most labor attorneys will already have a sample policy already available—you just need to ask for it. In terms of internal risk management on network security and breach, when you go out to the market to talk to your risk manager or broker, they usually have you fill out an application. That application has many questions about how you do things internally. You need to share those questions with your IT specialist so that they can be sure that they are taking all those steps.
We are a construction company, and at times we have some people who only work 2-3 weeks for us. Would we still need to report time even though they haven’t reached their eligibility period?
Robin: The employer has to report for each employee. It doesn’t matter whether they are eligible for coverage or not.
How do you report union-covered employees? We employ union employees, but they get their healthcare through the union.
Robin: You still have to report. They’re taken into account to determine if you are an ALE. It would just be noted where their coverage is obtained.
What is the definition of hours worked? What hours would be considered?
It depends. Essentially, a definition of hours worked is what they are paid, or hours paid. So, if somebody is in training, 9 times out of 10 they’re paid for that training, so that’s considered hours worked. A lot of times, even if they’ve only worked 1 hour in a day, it’s still counted as if they worked the whole day. You know, there are a lot of variations to that, but essentially somebody who worked a regular schedule of 30 or more hours per week or 130 per month is considered an eligible employee.
Do employers still have an ACA reporting obligation for locations that had less than 20 employees in 2015 and also closed in 2015? Their medical coverage is under the "parent" company," which covers approximately +1000 employees.
Robin: That’s a tricky question. It’s a parent company, but is it really considered a controlled group or common ownership? It really comes down to that. So, I think you will have to confer with your legal advisor.
Malki: Yes. It also depends on whether each individual company had separate plans or if it’s all part of the same plan. If it’s all part of the same plan, the actual particular locations are not relevant.