Another update from the HR jungle….
Walter owns a restaurant and catering business with 25 employees, most of them part-time. The hours can be brutal and the pay is low. Walter wishes he could pay more but in the competitive market he faces that’s not an option.
He can’t afford a group health plan for even his handful of full-time employees. Instead, he has encouraged his employees to sign up for coverage through the Exchange, also called the Marketplace. He thought some of his employees would qualify for a subsidy to help pay their premiums. Last year many of the employees decided not to buy individual health policies for a variety of reasons, including needing the money to pay bills. Now these employees will be assessed the penalty because they also didn’t try to qualify for an individual exemption.
Walter knows that he has no legal obligation to help his employees with health insurance. But he wants to help his employees because it’s the right thing to do. Walter is thinking about how to make one last effort to encourage his employees to sign up for coverage before open enrollment closes on February 15th.
What options are available to Walter?
- Walter can remind his employees that open enrollment closes in about 2 weeks. He can encourage them to go on-line to healthcare.gov or see an insurance agent.
- Walter can invite a health insurance agent to his restaurant to meet with his employees before or after their work shifts to sign up for coverage.
- Walter can remind his employees that they may be able to qualify for an exemption from the penalty, such as a hardship exemption due to low income.
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