Year-End Impacts of the Affordable Care Act

It’s here! Q4 of 2015 is upon us, and for the very first time, companies with 50 or more employees are facing the administrative realities of the Affordable Care Act. Many companies are also addressing unexpected projects associated with the Affordable Care Act such as benefit plan overhauls, HRIS/technology upgrades, reorganization of staff and additional budget line items for 2016.

From a human resources department perspective, the Affordable Care Act also has a significant impact on essential, end-of-year projects. Because collecting accurate data and filling out the forms has proven to be a time-consuming experience, many companies are scrambling to get adequate guidance and resources in order to meet reporting requirements enforced by the U.S. Federal Government. Additionally, the ACA is impacting other areas of human resources, including payroll, benefit plan design, open enrollments and workforce changes.

Are you prepared for the implications of the ACA before year-end?

The Affordable Care Act
As an HR consulting firm, companies and clients are coming to us to ensure they are in compliance with ACA. While they know they need to submit new forms to the IRS, they aren’t sure if they are filling them out correctly, or how to compile the appropriate data. Because notices don’t go to employees until early next year, many companies are under the impression that they can wait until December or January to pull together their data. Beware that this process requires businesses to extract information such as benefit plan enrollments, benefit plan data, employee benefits declines and payroll information about hours worked. If not already tracked electronically on an up-to-date HRIS/payroll platform, this can be a time-consuming endeavor.

Payroll Platform Conversions
A tidal wave of companies have very recently committed to upgraded payroll platforms that support automated ACA data compilation. While many HRIS/payroll companies are offering robust systems to capture employee data, going through a payroll conversion or implementation at this time of year can add a whole new level of stress on an organization’s HR, accounting and IT Departments due to all of the other Q4 activities. Because of this, many companies have been reaching out to HR consulting firms like ours for implementation assistance.

Often, when businesses scramble to implement new systems too quickly and without appropriate resources or expertise, they end up suffering later. Some of the negative issues we commonly come across after a new implementation has occurred include:

  • Data from the new payroll system doesn’t seamlessly feed to accounting in a format that’s appropriate for the existing accounting system.
  • Data from the old system may have been outdated or incorrect, and instead of cleaning it up before the migration, it gets fed into the new system. So, what should have been a fresh start turns into more of the same issues.

Because these companies are in a hurry, they are forcing themselves to continue creating issues in the new system.

Workforce Changes
While many employers have found it tempting to restructure their part- and full-time workforce in order to limit the number of full-time employees on their payroll, they are finding that it’s not as easy as it sounds. From unemployment claims due to lost wages to ACA guideline infractions, employers are struggling with getting this process down in a way that benefits employees as well as the company’s bottom line. Our Sr. HR Consultants at vcfo have already worked through many of these issues with clients.

Payroll platforms, time reporting, HR processes, workforce changes, benefit plan design and open enrollment—the ACA has an impact on all of these critical areas. Don’t wait until the end of the year to address these critical HR issues. Whether you handle the ACA requirements internally or seek interim assistance from HR consulting firms, make sure your company is able to prepare timely, accurate and compliant ACA reports and update processes for 2016.