The Obamacare trap for small businesses
Even though the employer mandate has been delayed for a year, many small businesses are still confused about the employer mandate calculation - how Obamacare turns part time employees into full time employees and makes it difficult for businesses on the cusp of 50 full time employees (the number where they are required to carry insurance for their workers) to avoid Obamacare.
Some smaller businesses had thought that if they could get under the 50 full-time employee cap that activates Obamacare by cutting full-time workers and hiring more part-time workers they would escape having to provide costly health care insurance - or pay a federal fine.
Several business organizations have been warning smaller firms of the provision in Obamacare, but many were confused and waiting for the administration to finally explain the so-called employer mandate calculation.
Said Matthew Haller of the International Franchise Association, "while its nice the administration has launched a new website, employers have been scrambling since the law was passed two plus years ago for answers to the laws complicated calculations for determining if they are 'large' employers and how many 'full-time equivalent employees' they have. The uncertainty created by the [health care act] continues to cause franchises and other small businesses to hit the pause button on job creation."
The SBA rules are easy to understand. From the SBA website: "Example: Company X has 40 full-time employees working 40 hours per week, along with 20 part-time employees working 15 hours per week. The 20 part-time employees are counted as 10 full-time equivalent employees. Company X has 50 full-time employees and is subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions."
Under Obamacare, a full-time work week is just 30 hours.
Edmund F. Haislmaier of the Heritage Foundation said the rules are a "problem for employers at the margin" of 50 full-time workers. The rules also cover seasonal workers: If a company with seasonal workers had the equivalent of 50 full-time employees for just 121 days, Obamacare kicks in.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics - the guys who figure the monthly unemployment numbers - define full time employment at 35 hours a week. Clearly, Democrats in congress didn't want many small businesses to escape Obamacare when they made the definition of full time work 30 hours. And that employer calculation will especially be a problem for fast food restaurants and some retail outlets where most workers are part time.
There will be few exemptions for small businesses who wish to avoid the costly step of paying a fine for not insuring their employees. Since the small business exchange is also delayed, employers will have only one option to purchase insurance.
Not a satisfactory state of affairs for the primary job creators in America - small businesses.