Labor Laws: Are you ready for what’s coming in 2014?

December 4, 2013

It’s vital for your senior management team to stay abreast of changing labor laws that may affect your organization.  The beginning of the calendar year is a popular time for labor law changes that impact companies of all size.  To enable employers to stay informed of what’s coming down the pipeline, we have summarized a few major upcoming federal labor law changes here for your review:

Health Care Reform – This is certainly the most rapidly changing area of federal labor law at this time.  A few Health Care Reform provisions that go into effect on 1/1/2014 include:

1) 90-Day Waiting Period – For plans renewing on or after 1/1/2014, employers are required to offer a waiting period of 90 calendar days or less.  This applies to employers of all sizes that sponsor a group health plan.  It is important to note that companies currently utilizing a waiting period of “the first of the month following 90 days” will be required to change their waiting period at their next renewal, as this amount of time exceeds the 90-calendar day requirement.  Such organizations may wish to consider changing their waiting period to “the first of the month following 60 days” or keep the waiting period at 90 days, but allow for mid-month enrollments on the 90th calendar day.  Note: California will have a 60 day requirement beginning 1/1/2014.

2) Individual Mandate – Arguably the most controversial area of Health Care Reform, this provision is set to go into effect on 1/1/2014.  The Individual Mandate requires that nearly all Americans secure health insurance coverage or face a tax penalty.  A tax penalty will be accessed if the individual goes without coverage for three months or longer in the 2014 calendar year.  For the 2014 calendar year, the penalty is the greater of $95 per uninsured person or 1% of taxable household income.   If your employees have technical questions regarding the individual mandate or applicable penalties, we recommend referring them to their personal tax professionals.

3) Flexible Spending Account Changes – The maximum that an employee will be permitted to contribute to a medical Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is $2500 for the 2014 calendar year.   This will not limit the amount that an employer may contribute to an employee’s medical FSA.   In addition, the federal government has changed the rules slightly with respect to the “use it or lose it” provision that applies to medical FSAs.  Currently, any money that is left in an account at the end of the calendar year is automatically forfeited. Beginning in 2014, however, up to $500 can be rolled over to the following year. There is one downside of the new carryover allowance, though; if a plan takes advantage of the carryover, it may no longer use a grace period to allow prior year balances to cover expenses incurred during the first two and a half months of the current year. Any pre-set grace period will need to be eliminated once the carryover provision is implemented.  It’s important to note that employers make the choice as to whether they would like to continue using the grace period or allow the $500 roll over, and it applies to all employees within the organization.

Minimum Wage Increases – January 1st is a popular time for states to increase the minimum wage.  The HR Support Center will publish a 2014 minimum wage increase guide once we have current information regarding 2014 minimum wage increases, so look for that in December.  Also, please make sure you are enrolled in the HR Support Center’s e-Alert program so that you will receive an alert should the minimum wage in your state experience an increase.  (To sign up, simply log into your HR Support Center and click on “My Account” and then “e-Alerts.”)

State-Specific Laws – Some states will experience other labor law changes beginning in 2014, such as changes to E-Verify requirements, social media laws, statutory leave laws, posting requirements, etc.  So again, it’s important to sign up for the HR Support Center’s e-Alerts for all states in which you conduct business.