Five Hot HR Topics in 2016: Health Care Reform

healthcare-reformThe new year tends to bring new HR trends and topics to the forefront. In the following days we will look at five topics we expect to dominate HR-related conversations in 2016: health care reform, marijuana in the workplace, proposed changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act, minimum wage increases, and paid sick leave trends.

Health Care Reform
Reporting for the Employer Mandate begins this year. All mid-sized and large employers are required to perform Section 6056 reporting. Generally, just like W-2s, copies of the forms must be provided to employees before February 1st and filed with the IRS before February 29th (paper) or by March 31st (electronic). This year, however, the IRS has granted an extension of two months for the distribution to employees and an extension of three months for the filing with the IRS.

The other big health care reform news: much of the transitional relief that softened the blow of the Employer Mandate ends in 2016. This means the employer mandate penalties will now apply to employers with 50-99 full-time equivalent employees. It also increases the percentage of full-time employees to whom covered employers must offer coverage—from 70% to 95%—and decreases the number of full-time employees that can be subtracted from the penalty calculation—from 80 to 30. Finally, employers must now use an average of the number of employees calculated from all 12 months of 2015 (rather than any six consecutive months as allowed under transitional relief) when determining whether they qualify as an applicable large employer.

And that’s not all! Legislative attempts to repeal or delay the “Cadillac Tax” will no doubt keep health care reform in the news for some time to come. This unpopular excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage was just delayed until 2020. We can expect the efforts to repeal it to continue.

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