Like it or not, tomorrow is the day that the enrollment period begins for the health insurance exchanges created as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. Many of my readers were probably aware of that fact, but they may not be aware of the fact that it is also the deadline for all businesses subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) to provide their employees with notice of the existence of the health insurance exchanges and certain information about them and the health insurance plan, if any, provided by the business. The failure of a business to provide this required notice could subject it to a $100 fine for each day after October 1 that the required notice is not given to its employees.
In general, any business, profit or nonprofit, with at least one employee that has gross annual revenue of $500,000 or more is subject to the FLSA. However, certain types of businesses are subject to that Act regardless of the amount of their gross annual revenue. (Click here for an interactive tool to find out who they are and to see if your agency is covered.) Businesses who are covered by the FLSA must provide the required notice to all their employees, whether full-time or part-time and whether or not they are entitled to enroll in any health insurance plan sponsored by the business. All covered businesses are also required to provide this notice to any new employees they may hire on or after October 1, 2013, within 14 days after the employee’s start date.
The required notice must be provided in writing by hand delivery or first class mail or it can be provided electronically if the U.S. Department of Labor’s standards for electronic delivery of notices are met. The language of the notice must be such that it can “be understood by the average employee.” To assist business owners who may not have the time to read the requirements and draft their own notices, the Department of Labor has created two model notices that business owners may use to satisfy their obligations under this provision of Obamacare. One notice is for businesses who offer health insurance coverage to their employees and one is for businesses who do not offer such coverage. (Click here for the Department of Labor’s main webpage on Obamacare which contains links to many other resources regarding a business’s obligations under that law.) If you have trouble understanding what information the model notices created by the Department of Labor require a business to include, do not fear, you are not alone. Click here for an explanation of what information is required.
Regardless of your position on Obamacare, it would be a good idea to make sure your agency is complying with its provisions and to let your commercial lines customers know what their obligations are under that law. Failing to do so could be expensive for both your agency and its commercial lines customers.