The Affordable Care Act, at its most basic level, was put into place to ensure universal healthcare coverage to all Americans. Part of what comes with that territory though is the burden it places on businesses in regards to compliance. Specifically, HR challenges will emerge as an organization works through the thorough process of reporting and ensuring compliance to this government standard. Most businesses have a loose grasp on what some of these challenges might look like, but below is a holistic idea on the challenges a typical HR unit will face when working towards ACA compliance.
Add Another Item to the HR Plate
A human resources department already has a lot to deal with in regards to everyday business matters. ACA compliance might sound like something that fits into their wheelhouse, but reporting figures to the IRS is not something any HR staff will be accustomed to performing. Understanding all of the subtle nuances of the law as well was what and where to send are all things that will be HR challenges, at least until they’ve done it a few times. Designated practice leaders will likely need to emerge, but it will only come through practice and general time spent developing a sound and thorough system.
One of the biggest HR challenges, as it relates to Affordable Care Act compliance, is simply understanding the lay of the employee land. To be compliant, every business needs to understand which of their employees meets the full-time guideline and which do not. While it sounds like an easy task, every individual employee within a given business has their own nuances to their schedule, including showing up tardy, leaving early, paid time off, bereavement, and other things that impact the overall amount of hours worked. ACA compliance can be tricky as knowing who qualifies is only the first action item, with many others requirements that tie to what those outlined as full-time need to be provided.
Access to Data
Just because there is data in a system, doesn’t mean it’s easy and efficient to extract. Depending on how large an organization is, data records on each employee could be buried and difficult to pull together to form a holistic report for compliance. This HR challenge is not necessarily easy to solve as a business is at the mercy of whatever system they currently use for time and attendance tracking. All reporting functionality depends heavily on the quality of data being input and how it is being labeled and tracked.
Communication is Key
In terms of HR challenges with regards to ACA compliance, communication is likely one of the biggest. The scope of what communication entails is the issue. With HR being the self-proclaimed guru, questions will arise and HR in most cases will be the ones dealing with the onslaught of employee-related questions. Beyond just the simple employee/employer relationship and the associated questions and communication, there is also the necessary communication that HR will need to initiate out to employees. ACA compliance has several communication requirements as part of the compliance and HR needs to make sure those deadlines are hit and the proper communications are sent to the correct employees. Failure to do so could pose an issue or result in a fine.
All of these elements are related in one manner or another and they make up some of the biggest challenges HR faces in regards to ACA compliance. By being aware of the common issues and headaches ahead of time, though, should allow an organization to properly plan and execute against the necessary objectives.