Small business owners are getting a reprieve from Obamacare’s employer mandate—again.
In July, the White House said it would delay the mandate, a controversial piece of the Affordable Care Act that will eventually require businesses with 50 or more workers to offer health insurance to employees or pay a fine. That delay pushed back the requirement back one year to Jan. 1, 2015.
On Monday, the Obama administration said it would delay the employer mandate until 2016 for companies with 50 to 99 workers. (Employers with fewer than 50 workers have always been exempt.) Companies with 100 or more workers will have to cover 70 percent of their full-time workers beginning next year, according to a new rule (PDF) published by the Internal Revenue Service.
“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,” Mark J. Mazur, the U.S. Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for tax policy, said in a statement published by Bloomberg News.
While it’s true that only a small percentage of U.S. businesses would be affected by the mandate, the second delay will likely prove welcome to small business owners who have worried that the requirement would force them to fire workers or move employees from full-time to part-time status.
The delay may also help assuage business owners frustrated by an additional Obamacare setback: the slower-than-promised roll-out of Small Business Health Option Programs, or SHOPS, which are exchanges at which small businesses can buy insurance that meets standards set by the health-reform law.