Friday, February 28, 2014

Family and Medical Leave Enhancement Act of 2014

      In January we discussed the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (the FAMILY Act), introduced in the Senate on December 12, but just this month Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) introduced legislation that would expand  the already existing Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA).  Currently, FMLA only applies to those businesses that have at least 50 employees.  This new legislation H.R. 3999: Family and Medical Leave Enhancement Act of 2014, proposes to expand FMLA to those businesses that have more than 25 employees working within 75 miles of one another.

     Not only would this new legislation expand those businesses covered by FMLA, it would also increase the benefits available.  The additional benefits would include 24 hours per year of unpaid Parental Involvement and Family Wellness leave.  Eligible employees would be able to "participate in or attend an activity that is sponsored by a school or community organization and relates to a program of the school or organization that is attended by a son or daughter or a grandchild of the employee." Not only would Parental Involvement and Family Wellness leave cover school or community programs, it would also allow eligible employees to "meet routine family medical care needs, including for medical and dental appointments of the employee or a son, daughter, spouse, or grandchild of the employee, or to attend to the care needs of elderly individuals who are related to the eligible employee, including visits to nursing homes and group homes."

President Obama endorsed the protections in a June 2008 speech in Albuquerque, New Mexico, saying, “With more and more households headed by two working parents – or a single working parent – it's also time to dramatically expand the Family and Medical Leave Act. Since more Americans are working for small businesses, I'll expand FMLA to cover businesses with as few as 25 employees – this will reach millions of American workers who aren't covered today. … We'll allow parents to take 24 hours of annual leave to join school activities with their kids.”

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Delay for Obamacare Coverage

             As discussed on the Blog on December 5, 2014, yet again, the Federal Government announced another delay in a compliance date for small businesses regarding The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.    The Treasury received many requests to offer more time for small businesses to comply with the law and in an effort to work with the small businesses, compromises where made.  “While about 96 percent of employers are not subject to the employer responsibility provision, for those employers that are, we will continue to make the compliance process simpler and easier to navigate,” said Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Mark J. Mazur to Bloomberg.

             In addition to postponing the compliance date, an announcement of weakened requirements for complying with the law was made.  Small businesses that employ between 50 and 100 full-time workers are now exempt from complying with the mandate until 2016.  A full-time worker is defined as an individual who works more than 30 hours per week.  If a business claims that it is now eligible for the 2016 delay, the business must certify that it has less than 100 full-time workers and that it did not reduce its workforce merely to qualify for this new extension.  Those businesses that are not truthful regarding this statement will suffer the penalties of perjury.

              Those businesses that have 100 or more full-time workers must still comply with the mandate by 2015 and if they do not comply with the mandate by 2015 than the businesses could face financial penalties of at least $2,000 per worker and even up to $3,000 per worker.  However, The Treasury Department did relax the requirements for those businesses as well.  Those companies that have 100 or more full-time workers must make affordable insurance coverage available to only 70 percent, rather than 95 percent of those workers by 2015.  Previously, the requirement was that 95 percent of full-time workers be offered affordable health coverage by 2015.  Nevertheless, those same business will have to offer affordable insurance to 95 percent of its full time workers by 2016.  We will keep you informed of any more changes or delays made to The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
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