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October 1 Healthcare Deadline
All Employers Must Meet Urgent Oct. 1st Healthcare Law Deadline

Healthcare Hub logoThe October 1st deadline for notifying your employees of their healthcare options is rapidly approaching. If you are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) you must provide written notice to every employee about their coverage options through the new health insurance marketplaces (or “exchanges” which are due to open on Oct. 1st).

This notification requirement applies to ALL employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – regardless of number of employees and regardless of whether you currently offer coverage (or plan to) and must be provided to every employee (full-time, part-time, seasonal and temporary).

To determine if your business is covered by the FLSA, click on these links for a fact sheet and an interactive tool

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has an online portal to help restaurateurs comply with the notification requirement and keep track of the employees whom they’ve notified.  Access to this portal is available to WRA restaurant members as dual members of the NRA.

We encourage WRA members to register ASAP on the portal at: http://www.restaurant.org/Notify 

Remember, the deadline is Tuesday, October 1 and the NRA needs a turnaround period to process your registration before your employees can begin using the portal.

The portal:

  • Provides the required written notice to your employees
  • Provides access to the Department of Labor’s notice templates
  • Tracks and reports which employees received the notice
  • Creates records to verify employee notification, if proof is needed

Not planning on using NRA portal?
WRA is directing members to the NRA’s portal, but if you prefer to use the Department of Labor templates and not the portal, here are the forms:

Template for employers not offering coverage
Template for employers offering coverage

Which employees must be notified?
Employers must provide notice to existing employees by Oct. 1, 2013; at the time of hire for employees hired between Oct. 1, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2013; and within 14 days of the employee’s start date beginning in 2014.

Is there a cost to using the NRA portal?
Use of the portal is free to WRA/NRA members.  If you would like to customize and brand the materials with your logo or information specific to your business, there is a $25 per month fee.

Exchanges to open Oct. 1
Government-run health insurance marketplaces, also known as exchanges, must be up and running by Oct. 1 in all states to let individuals and small employers enroll in private health care plans for 2014. Wisconsin has chosen to let the federal government run the exchange for 2014. Among other responsibilities, exchanges will play a central role in determining which individuals qualify for federal tax subsidies to help buy coverage through an exchange. If you are not providing health insurance for your eligible employees, you will be directing them to the exchanges where they can learn about their options. If you are planning on offering health insurance and need more information on what is available to you as an employer, you can also refer to the exchanges.

Be aware of potential liability for failure to notify employees
There is a very real concern that employers who either fail to notify employees about their coverage options, or are unable to prove that they notified employees, could face potential liabilities – similar to failure to provide COBRA notification. While the Department of Labor (DOL) has indicated that there is no specific fine or penalty for failure to notify employees, this failure may subject you to civil lawsuits and increased risk during DOL audits.

Imagine this scenario… you notified an employee that you would not be offering coverage and that he needed to research his options using the exchanges. He never pursued that and is uninsured. He faces potential tax penalties himself, but more concerning for you is that if he ends up in the hospital emergency room with a broken leg without any health coverage, it’s possible that the hospital, looking for payment, might ask the employee “Why don’t you have insurance? Didn’t your employer notify you about healthcare options?” If the employee denies receiving that information from you, and you have no record on file to verify that proper notification was provided, you may be in a troubling situation.

Have more questions?
NRA’s Health Care Law Primer is available free to members and is an invaluable tool when it comes to navigating ACA mandates.

The Healthcare Knowledge Center on the NRA website offers extensive information on ACA.

 
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Wisconsin Restaurant Association • 2801 Fish Hatchery Rd. • Madison, WI 53713 • Tel: 608.270.9950 • Toll Free: 800.589.3211 • FAX: 608.270.9960