Continuing the long climb up the health care reform learning curve

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Disbelief is quickly turning into concerns about complying with the sweeping changes that come with the Affordable Care Act. Small business owner Dave Ratner and I spoke at the Main Street Retailing Forum held during Retail’s BIG Show in New York to help small retailers understand requirements that will begin as early as this June. Our focus was on preparation and continued work to smooth the rough edges off the health care reform law, while also highlighting NRF’s continued efforts to keep Main Street healthy through the implementation process.

Ratner and I kept our presentation simple, as the most basic issues retailers need to know about this year breed endlessly complex sub-issues: How big must you be to be subject to the law? What options will be available to you? What implications does this have for your workforce, especially at the entry level? A few of the more popular topics included averaging employee hours over time to deal with variable hour employees (a.k.a. the “look-back”), the size of penalties, and the curious exclusion of the first 30 employees. Bottom line: Health reform is coming, and the retail industry can – and should – face it affirmatively.

But as new rules roll out, NRF continues to analyze the nuances of the law for our members and retailers across the country. On February 1, I presented a more in-depth survey of retail concerns. NRF’s “Ready, set … Are You Ready for the Affordable Care Act?” webinar took another dive into some of the basics, exploring ways the ACA could shape future workforce decisions. For those who missed it or need a refresher, retailers can register for on-demand playback. NRF’s ongoing health care webinar series will continue on April 4, taking a closer look at the new regulations and challenges for retailers that take effect in June.

As always, www.retailmeansjobs.com/healthcare is full of free resources for retailers to learn more about the ACA. And NRF’s Health and Employee Benefits Committee meets on a monthly basis to evaluate the latest issues. Together, the retail industry will have a full head of steam to overcome the health care reform learning curve.

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