Starting in 2014, organizations employing a certain number of workers will be subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions under Internal Revenue Code Sec. 4980H. Under these provisions, if these employers do not offer affordable health coverage that provides a minimum level of coverage to their full-time employees, they may be subject to an employer shared responsibility payment if at least one of their full-time employees receives a premium tax credit for purchasing individual coverage on one of the new Affordable Insurance Exchanges.
Counting employees. To be subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions, an employer must employ at least 50 full-time employees or a combination of full-time and part-time employees that equals at least 50 (for example, 40 full-time employees employed 30 or more hours per week on average plus 20 half-time employees employed 15 hours per week on average is equivalent to 50 full-time employees).
Employers will determine each year, based on their current number of employees, whether they will be considered a large employer for the next year. For example, if an employer has at least 50 full-time employees (including full-time equivalents) for 2013, it will be considered a large employer for 2014.
Employers average their number of employees across the months in the year to see whether they meet the large employer threshold. The averaging can account for fluctuations that employers may experience in their workforce across the year.
Transition relief. For employers that may be close to the 50 full-time employee (or equivalents) threshold and need to know what to do for 2014, special transition relief is available to help them count their employees in 2013.
Rather than being required to use the full 12 months of 2013 to measure whether it has 50 full-time employees (or an equivalent number of part-time and full-time employees), an employer may measure using any six consecutive-month period in 2013. For example, an employer could use the period from January 1, 2013, through June 30, 2013, and then have six months to analyze the results, determine whether it needs to offer a plan, and, if so, choose and establish a plan.
Source: Questions and Answers on Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions Under the Affordable Care Act, December 28, 2012.