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When do benefits kick in for workers under healthcare reform?

By  Scott Sinder

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The IRS established a similar set of safe harbor rules for new employees (essentially allowing an employer either to make a good-faith classification of a new hire or to employ an initial measurement period methodology). The IRS also “clarified” that no mandate requirements apply to new hires during any initial waiting period. This is provided that the waiting period does not exceed 90 days (the ACA statutory maximum). Although you would think this should be self-evident, it was not, and this issue created a lot of analyst commentary and concern.

These developments obviously are no panacea. For example, if you have seasonal workers who work eight months a year for 60-70 hours per week, they will not be exempt from the mandate. But the safe harbor rules should be very helpful to a good swath of those who employ part-time and/or seasonal employees.

To best take advantage of these opportunities, your affected clients will be well served to evaluate and implement a safe harbor regime, and sooner rather than later.

Sinder, a partner with Steptoe & Johnson, is CIAB general counsel.

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