HR Struggles to Comply With ACA

By Rita Pyrillis

Mar. 27, 2015

Meeting the complex requirements of the Affordable Care Act is pushing human resources managers to up their game, but the majority of employers are still unprepared to comply with the law, according to a recent survey by benefits consulting firm ADP.

Although the employer mandate requiring companies with at least 100 full-time employees to offer affordable health care benefits took effect on Jan. 1, both large and midsize employers expressed concern about annual health care coverage reporting requirements, penalty management and exchange notice management, according to the survey, which was conducted by the ADP Research Institute.

A key reason for this lack of preparedness is difficulty in tracking hours to determine if an employee is eligible for health care coverage and reporting compliance to the federal government. As a result, 60 percent of large companies with more than 1,000 employees indicated that they aren’t prepared for penalty management under the ACA.

Gathering the needed data from a variety of internal sources is proving to be a big challenge for HR departments, according to David Marini, ADP's vice president and managing director for strategic advisory services. For example, tracking unpaid leave hours means determining if the hours are attributable to the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act or jury duty, he said.

“HR is being held to a new standard on their data that they haven’t experience before,” Marini said. “Finance also has to get involved because they have to attest to the accuracy of the data. It’s requiring a whole level of collaboration that most organizations haven’t been set up to deal with it.”

Under the ACA, employers with at least 100 employees must offer coverage to those who work an average of 30 hours a week or face a fine. Starting in 2016, the mandate will extend to companies with at least 50 workers. 

Rita Pyrillis is a writer based in the Chicago area.

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