New laws could mean major changes for those charged with human resources planning. For one thing, the Affordable Care Act's play-or-pay mandate will officially begin Jan. 1, 2015. The Society for Human Resources Management cited this as being part of section 4980H of the Internal Revenue Code, and means that employers must offer appropriate health care coverage to their employees for an affordable value that covers enough to be considered meeting a "minimum value." That means the insurance can not be a token provider – actually providing benefits if someone is injured or becomes sick. The section marked 4980H in the code means that companies must offer this insurance to 70 percent of their employees in 2015 or pay a penalty if anyone received subsidies to buy insurance for a health exchange.
If no one uses a subsidy to buy health care via the online ACA portal, then companies are not obligated to pay the penalty – even if they do not offer 70 percent of their employees insurance.
In 2015, the first 80 employees who buy insurance will activate a $2,000 company fine for their employer. Anyone in excess of the first 80 will create an additional $3,000 penalty per person.
Other reforms to look out for
An additional consideration is the shift in wage laws. Minimum wages are rising, and the government is taking a closer look to ensure people are getting their fair share of money for work performed. Wal-Mart was recently sued for $151 million because of wage law violations, HR Morning reported. According to the employee who began the suit in 2002, Michelle Braun, Wal-Mart forced its employees to work through breaks as well as off the clock in order to avoid paying the extra money.
Wal-Mart is protesting the lawsuit, saying that because the individual people didn't have to testify one at a time, that the trial is not technically a class action suit. However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which oversaw the ruling, says that while the different employees in the suit did not testify individually, each of their pay records were looked at to ensure the veracity of their claims.
Wal-Mart plans to continue pushing the lawsuit up to the next highest court, as well as to make revisions to its timekeeping systems. It continues to state it is paying its employees their fair share of money.