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Federal Legislative Issues: Affordable Care Act
The National Restaurant Association has worked with federal agencies to provide some flexibility for employers in ACA regulations and has had some success in temporarily delaying some mandates, but only Congress can make changes to the law. The Association has urged Congress to make changes in four key areas:
- Bring the ACA’s definition of full-time in line with typical workplace standards.
- Simplify and streamline the employer reporting requirements.
- Raise the threshold that determines which businesses are treated as “large” under the ACA.
- Eliminate the ACA’s auto-enroll mandate that requires some companies to automatically enroll full-time employees in a company health plan.
We were optimistic that there would be bipartisan support for these changes after the election. Unfortunately the lack of cooperation and dysfunctional political environment is still preventing enactment of positive legislation on health care, immigration reform and other issues of interest to our members. Until our political leaders work through this I don’t expect these issues to be resolved. The Supreme Court reviewed the law and a majority voted that it complied with the Constitution, so it will not be subject to further judicial review.
It’s up to Congress to cooperate and make the necessary changes and on October 2nd some significant progress was made.
Restaurants and other small businesses scored a major victory when President Obama signed the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees (PACE) Act into law, just days after the bipartisan legislation passed both houses of Congress.
The National Restaurant Association was a leading advocate for the legislation, which will preserve the ability of restaurants and other businesses with 50 to 100 employees to buy health insurance plans on the more affordable large-group market.
Without the change, a provision in the Affordable Care Act would have pushed businesses with 50-100 employees into the small-group insurance market starting in 2016. The small-group market generally offers fewer options and the change would have resulted in higher costs for employers and sharp premium increases for employees. According to NRA research, more than 25,000 restaurants and 1 million employees will be helped by the change. Under the PACE Act, states will have the freedom to limit the small-group market to its traditional definition of businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Starting in 2016, the Affordable Care Act requires employers with 50 or more full-time-equivalent employees to offer health coverage to full-time employees.
“We thank the House and the Senate for working together to pass this important bipartisan legislation that ensures America’s small businesses will be free from sweeping premium increases that could severely impact their bottom line, while at the same time increasing the cost of insurance for their employees,” said Angelo Amador, NRA senior vice president and regulatory counsel.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations on overtime
Restaurateurs are voicing their concern over the Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposal that could cost jobs and decrease room for advancement in restaurants across the country. Here’s what you need to know:
- The DOL issued a proposal that could dramatically alter the white collar exemptions for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act that will greatly limit restaurant flexibility and unnecessarily increase costs for businesses across the country.
- In addition to proposing an unprecedented increase of over 100 percent to the minimum salary threshold (from $455 per week to $970), the DOL is considering adding a duties test that would limit restaurant managers ability to have the “hands on” approach needed to ensure operations run smoothly.
- Inform DOL and Members of Congress of the negative impact the changes being considered would have on your restaurant and on managers that could lose incentive compensation opportunities, benefits, flexibility and the professional status that they highly value.
- This is an administrative action that does not need congressional approval.
- The decision to implement may be delayed until late in 2016 providing limited time for you to prepare to comply before the deadline so it’s important to develop your strategy early and be ready to implement on short notice.
- There is bi-partisan support in congress to pass legislation limiting what the NLRB can and we need to keep the pressure on our congressional delegation to maintain their support for this. Click here and act now – add your name to the thousands of Americans who are petitioning leaders in Washington to protect workplace opportunity.